Tag Archives: mid-major

Vandal Nation Live in Reno: (7) Idaho at (2) Nevada

11 Mar

RENO, Nev. — It’s a tough challenge, being the No. 7 seed facing off against a No. 2 seed. It’s even tougher when you’re playing the No. 2 seed on their own home floor.

That’s the task facing the Idaho Vandals tonight in the Lawlor Events Center, as they square off against the Nevada Wolf Pack in a Western Athletic Conference Tournament quarterfinal. The winner goes on to the WAC Tournament semifinals tomorrow.

Don Verlin’s squad has struggled to find consistency this year, as chemistry and mental lapses cost the Vandals valuable victories. Idaho’s season, which started so promisingly with an upset of Utah in Salt Lake City, now comes down to this game. Win, and the dream is alive. Lose, and it’s back to Moscow for the long wait until November.

Can the Vandals pull off the improbable bracket upset? Join us, live from courtside, and find out.

Complete pregame coverage begins at 5:30 p.m., with tipoff at 6.

Click here for Vandal Nation Live commentary, analysis and chat!

Good Afternoon Vandal Nation: WAC Tournament Day 2

11 Mar

RENO, Nev. — We’re back in the Lawlor Events Center for the second day of quarterfinal action in the 2010 Western Athletic Conference Basketball Tournament.

The bracket for the men’s quarterfinals looks like this:

(1) Utah State vs. (8) Boise State — noon

(4) Louisiana Tech vs. (5) Fresno State — 2:30 p.m.

(2) Nevada vs. (7) Idaho — 6 p.m.

(3) New Mexico State vs. (6) San Jose State — 8:30 p.m.

We’ll have complete liveblog coverage of the Vandals/Wolf Pack showdown, with pregame analysis starting at 5:30 p.m., tip at 6.

The winners will play Friday in the semifinals, with the 1/8 and 4/5 winners squaring off in one matchup, the 2/7 and 3/6 winners in the other.

Yesterday, Idaho’s women made history, becoming the first Vandal team to reach the semifinals in any WAC basketball tournament since Idaho joined the conference in 2005. They defeated New Mexico State, 75-63, and will play the No. 1 seeded Fresno State Bulldogs on Friday at noon.

Men’s basketball

  • Follow us on Twitter — @VandalNation — for live courtside scoring updates throughout the WAC Tournament.
  • The Spokesman-Review’s Josh Wright has a game preview of this evening’s Idaho/Nevada showdown.
  • Idaho’s “sneaky” squad could pose a threat to the Wolf Pack’s NCAA Tournament hopes — at least, so says the Reno Gazette-Journal’s Chris Murray.

Monson’s homecoming spoils Idaho’s BracketBuster hopes

20 Feb

Dan Monson came back to his alma mater this week, and a sweet homecoming it was for the son of legendary Idaho coach Don Monson. Unfortunately for the Idaho Vandals, Dan was coaching their opponent.

In an ESPNU BracketBusters non-conference showdown, Long Beach State pretty well dominated Idaho from start to finish, coming away with a 77-66 victory in the Cowan Spectrum. Turnovers, missed field goals and porous defense characterized the Vandals’ play, and only a 13-point, 14-rebound night from Marvin Jefferson kept things interesting for the home team.

“(Long Beach) beat us in every aspect of the game,” Idaho coach Don Verlin admitted.

As well as the Vandals (13-13, 4-8 WAC) played Thursday against Seattle, they played just as badly tonight — continuing a theme for this season, in that the only thing consistent about Idaho’s performances has been their inconsistency. Mac Hopson led the team in scoring with 15 points, but didn’t make a bucket until the game’s final 67 seconds and finished an awful 2-for-9 from the field, 0-for-3 from downtown. Hopson and several other starters sat on the bench for long stretches of the game in favor of some of the Vandals’ younger guns. Verlin made no bones about his displeasure with the performance of his seniors.

“I’m very disappointed in my seniors’ effort — except Marvin Jefferson, he played his tail off,” Verlin said. “The seniors have to lead this team, and I don’t think they had their team ready to play. We’re two years into this deal and our senior leadership has to show itself. It didn’t tonight.”

The 49ers (13-14) took advantage of nearly every Idaho mistake, converting 16 Vandal turnovers into 21 points, including an 8-0 edge in fastbreak scoring. It would be that old ball-handling bugaboo that ultimately doomed the home team’s hopes.

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Vandal Nation Live: Idaho vs. Long Beach State

20 Feb

Idaho’s women opened up today’s hoops doubleheader with a thrilling, nail-biting 60-59 win over New Mexico State. Now it’s the men’s turn!

It’s the annual ESPNU BracketBusters non-conference showdown, as Long Beach State travels to Moscow to take on the Vandals. No, it won’t count in the WAC standings, but a victory this afternoon would help Idaho mightily in the quest for a second consecutive winning season.

The 49ers are led by coach Dan Monson, a Moscow High and University of Idaho graduate and son of Vandal coaching legend Don Monson. It’s an old-school Big West rivalry renewed, too. Both of these teams were picked to be near the top of their league, but have struggled to meet expectations. Who’ll come out on top? Join us and find out.

We’ll have pregame coverage starting at 5:15 p.m., tip at 5:30

Click here for Vandal Nation Live commentary, analysis and chat!

Vandals hold Garcia in check, complete Seattle sweep

18 Feb

Seattle RedHawks center Charles Garcia has been called one of the best players on the West Coast, with a dominating inside game based on unstoppable post moves. But tonight it was the homestanding Idaho Vandals who owned the paint — Garcia notwithstanding.

Holding off repeated RedHawks charges down the stretch, Idaho (13-12, 4-8 Western Athletic Conference) captured an 82-72 victory over Seattle (13-14) in the Cowan Spectrum, giving the Vandals their first winning record since early January. With just five games remaining in the regular season, every win is precious for an Idaho team trying to claw its way back into the postseason conversation. In the teams’ previous meeting this season, on Jan. 30, the Vandals took down the RedHawks in KeyArena, 87-85.

Idaho’s starting inside duo, Marvin Jefferson and Luiz Toledo, combined for 26 points and shot .750 from the floor, contributing mightily to the Vandals’ 44-30 edge on points in the paint. They collectively held Garcia to 14 points on 5-for-12 shooting, well below his average. Meanwhile, Kashif Watson juked and slashed his way to 20 points on a .750 field-goal percentage of his own.

“Coach has been preaching all along that the seniors are going to lead this team in February and March, and it was a night for me and Marvin to step up and have a big game,” Watson said. “The way we played tonight fits my style, getting up and down in transition and converting the easy opportunities.”

As a team, the Vandals shot 57 percent from the field while holding the RedHawks to just 38 percent. Unusually, Idaho hit just one 3-pointer all night on only six attempts, nearly a season-low. Clearly, coach Don Verlin instructed his team to eschew the quick jump-shot in favor of driving the lane and pounding Seattle in the paint.

The fast-paced battle was a pitched, back-and-forth affair for the opening 11 minutes, as the lead swapped back and forth seven times in that span with no team drawing more than a three-point advantage. But the RedHawks’ third-leading scorer, Cervante Burrell, was whistled for three personal fouls in 14 seconds — from 17:57 to 17:43 — and spent the rest of the half on the bench. That might well come back to haunt Seattle coach Cameron Dollar, as Burrell fouled out late in the second half and finished with zero points and one rebound.

Though he was relatively quiet the rest of the night, it was Luciano de Souza who would break the logjam and give Idaho the lead for good with a textbook top-of-the-key 3-pointer. His nothing-but-net jumper gave the home team a one-point edge with eight-and-a-half minutes remaining and ignited the small but vocal crowd of 1,287. Seemingly feeding off that energy, the Vandals closed the half on a 22-10 run, punctuated by dunks from Watson, Jefferson and Kyle Barone, and took a 38-28 lead into the locker room.

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Vandal Nation Live: Idaho vs. Seattle

18 Feb

It’s BracketBusters week in Moscow, and the Vandals’ final pair of non-conference battles are on tap. First, the Seattle RedHawks visit the Cowan Spectrum tonight. The RedHawks are a transitional Division I team that will look to avenge a home loss at the hands of Idaho earlier this season. On Saturday, Dan Monson’s Long Beach State 49ers come to town for the ESPNU BracketBusters matchup.

For the Vandals, this pair of games is key to securing the potential of a second consecutive winning season. Sweep the week at home and the prospects for finishing above .500 get much brighter.

The star of the RedHawks, all-everything stud Charles Garcia, gave Idaho fits last time in Seattle. Big-time scorers have stepped up big against the Vandals time and again, as Don Verlin’s defense has had trouble containing playmakers. Will Marvin Jefferson, Luiz Toledo or Kyle Barone be able to slow him down? Will Kashif Watson’s foot injury keep him from being 100%? Can Idaho snap out of its home-court funk? Find out, tonight.

We’ll have Vandal Nation Live complete courtside coverage, with pregame at 6:30 p.m., tip at 7.

Click here for live commentary, analysis and chat!

Nevada 67, Idaho 66

11 Feb

Heartbreak.

The Idaho Vandals closed up a 16-point deficit to lead Nevada with just seconds to play, but an Armon Johnson layup-and-one gave the visiting Wolf Pack a 67-66 victory.

We’ll have a postgame wrap this afternoon, but for now, here’s raw video from an angry Don Verlin and a disappointed Jeff Ledbetter.

Vandal Nation Live: Idaho vs. Nevada

10 Feb

Vandal Nation is back, and just in time!

Tonight, Idaho takes on Nevada in a pivotal Western Athletic Conference battle in front of ESPN2’s national television cameras. It’s the Vandals and the Wolf Pack, each team desperate to prove something. Nevada needs to show it can win big games on the road, while Idaho wants to climb its way back into the WAC Tournament conversation.

Can Mac Hopson, Steffan Johnson and Luiz Toledo keep the momentum rolling at home against the star-power of Luke Babbitt and Armon Johnson? Join us and find out.

We’ll have all the action live from courtside in the Cowan Spectrum. Pregame coverage begins at 7:30 p.m., tip at 8.

Click here for Vandal Nation Live commentary, analysis and chat!

WAC Power Rankings: Feb. 10, 2010

10 Feb

It’s been a long month since our last power rankings — academics and a three-day spell in the ICU are to blame for that. We’re trying to get back in the groove here at Vandal Nation, and we appreciate your patience. The stretch run to the 2010 WAC Tournament is underway, and these final weeks will set the stage for those amazing three days of basketball.

1. Utah State, 18-6, 8-2 (7) — What a difference a month makes. Last time around, the Blue Aggies were 0-2 in the conference and seemingly had lost their mojo. Not so, and we’ll never think that about a Stew Morrill team again. Since then, Utah State has ripped off eight straight conference wins to take control of their own destiny in the conference race. Finding their groove was pretty simple: just go back to what works, like Jared Quayle droppin’ in jumpers and Tai Wesley banging it in the post. Then, like Stew always manages to do, find some random guy to just have a huge breakout season — like Brian Green’s ridiculous .667 shooting percentage from downtown. It’s the Aggies’ race to lose.

2. New Mexico State, 15-8, 8-2 (4) — OK, we think it’s really fishy that Wendell McKines and Troy Gillenwater just somehow magically managed to get cleared mid-season, but you can’t argue with the results and the record for New Mexico State. Marvin Menzies’ team is hitting its stride at the right time, as shown two nights ago with a gutty win over Louisiana Tech. Their defense is still utterly atrocious but in Menzies’ trademark style, they have enough firepower to make up for it. That loss at San Jose State could haunt them down the stretch, though, as the all-Aggies season finale in Logan is now shaping up to be a titanic battle for the conference title.

3. Louisiana Tech, 19-5, 7-3 (1) — The WAC’s early juggernaut has staggered somewhat midseason, having lost three of their last five games and with a tough fight at Utah State looming just over the horizon. It seems opponents have maybe started to figure out Kerry Rupp’s system and the Gulf Coast Bulldogs don’t have the depth to withstand foul trouble in the paint. Still, by any measure this has been an excellent season for Louisiana Tech, though their weak non-conference schedule is going to come back and bite them right about now. Thanks to a slate full of cupcakes like UT-Pan American (twice!) and Nicholls State, the Bulldogs have no hope of an at-large bid to the NCAAs despite their gaudy record. If they want to go dancing, they’ll have to be the last team standing in Reno.

4. Nevada, 13-9, 5-4 (2) — The Wolf Pack: they are who we thought they were. Yes, Luke Babbitt and Armon Johnson are studs — but Nevada’s lack of depth has cost them dearly, most notably in a pair of losses to Utah State and a shocker road upset by Fresno State. Not to worry, Nevada fans, because there’s still more than enough firepower and talent to get the Wolf Pack back into the WAC Tournament title game on their home court. But they’ll have a much tougher path than last year. Nevada hasn’t been great on the road, and a loss tonight at Idaho would put paid to any hopes of a top-two seed for David Carter’s squad.

5. San Jose State, 12-11, 5-6 (5) — We like San Jose State. Scrappy, upset-minded and currently undefeated on their home court. Unfortunately, the Spartans have also suffered some inexplicable losses, most notably being one of Hawaii’s two victories. They’re one of only two WAC teams with no road wins. That perfect home record is also about to get its toughest challenge of the season, too, as Utah State comes calling on Saturday. Still, if you’re looking for a sleeper pick to make some noise in the WAC Tournament, San Jose State is my choice. Their balanced offense and strong rebounding gives the Spartans the tools to maybe pull an upset.

6. Idaho, 11-11, 3-7 (3) — Ugh. January was monthus horriblis for Don Verlin’s Idaho Vandals, who went on a six-game losing streak capped by a heartbreaking overtime defeat at home to arch-rival Boise State. Fortunately for Vandal fans, that seems to have been the final straw for a squad that was way underachieving its talent level. Since then, Idaho has won three of its last four games, including a huge 24-point revenge victory in Boise powered by .500 shooting from downtown. Tonight, a nationally-televised showdown against Nevada awaits. Are the Vandals for real this time? A victory in front of the ESPN2 cameras would say “yes.” Then it’s on to Fresno State, and a road win there would put Idaho in the drivers’ seat for a 5-seed.

7. Fresno State, 12-12, 5-5 (6) — This is a team on the way down, unless they can find a way to put things back together, and fast. The WAC’s West Coast Bulldogs have lost five of their last seven, with only a nice home win over Nevada to hang their hats on. Some of the blame can be put on Paul George’s absence for some of those games, but some of it has to fall on coach Steve Cleveland. Fresno State was a talented but utterly disorganized mess against Idaho, and they lost to Boise State, too. A two-game homestand against New Mexico State and the Vandals awaits this week, and we’ll find out whether the Bulldogs can get back together or not.

8. Hawaii, 9-14, 2-8 (8) — Bob Nash’s team has hit the wall with a sickening “splat.” His best players are walking wounded, his marquee transfer guard is suspended indefinitely and he hasn’t recorded a win in nearly a month. Next up for the Rainbow Warriors? The doubly-grueling road trip to Louisiana Tech and New Mexico State. Ouch, ouch, ouch. Nor does the rest of the schedule promise any relief — in fact, it’s quite possible they won’t get a win the rest of the season. If that happens, Nash is toast. For students of sports history who want to see what a program in crisis looks like, book your tickets for Honolulu now.

9. Boise State, 11-12, 2-8 (9) — Boy, we feel for Greg Graham. No sooner does he look like a hero for spoiling Idaho’s season with an upset win in Moscow… than he becomes the goat of the Broncos’ worst-ever home loss to the Vandals in the history of the basketball rivalry. The things that were said about him on various Internet message boards are not fit for family consumption. Even the Idaho Statesman’s Nick Jezierny got in on the action, wondering if the Broncos had shown up to Taco Bell Arena thinking it was bake sale day — they sure brought the turnovers. Ouch. Nor do things get easier, with games against Utah State and at Nevada on the docket this week. Boise State is on the verge of the unthinkable: missing the WAC Tournament.

Late Spartan surge ends Idaho’s bid to sweep road trip

5 Jan

SAN JOSE, Calif. — With four minutes and change to play in San Jose State’s WAC opener against Idaho last night, Spartan forward C.J. Webster looked at the opposing shot clock across the court — it was about to expire. In desperation, he flicked up a no-look shot backwards over his head from the free-throw line.

Back of the rim. Net. Score. The 1,287 fans in the Events Center sounded like 10,000.

It was just that kind of night for the home team.

In a hard-fought road battle for the Vandals, San Jose State made just enough plays down the stretch to thwart Idaho’s designs on a 2-0 start to Western Athletic Conference play away from the comforting confines of the Cowan Spectrum.

How hard-fought? How about 28 lead changes and 12 ties. Yeah, that hard-fought.

Despite putting four players in double digits, Idaho fell to the Spartans, 78-75, thanks to a late-game surge that pushed the home team over the top. The Vandals dropped to 8-5 (1-1 WAC) while SJSU improves to 8-5 (1-0 WAC).

San Jose State was powered by big inside buckets from the forward-center duo of Webster and Chris Oakes, who combined to shoot 18-for-24, leading the way for a Spartan team that scored 44 points in the paint.

“You have to pick your poison against these guys and we decided not to double-team Webster,” Idaho coach Don Verlin said. “They found him and drove him down our throats.”

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Vandal Nation Live: Idaho at San Jose State

4 Jan

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Tonight, Idaho visits the Silicon Valley to take on the Spartans of San Jose State, as the Vandals look to open their conference season with back-to-back road victories.

After getting a crucial road win at Hawaii on Saturday night, Don Verlin’s Vandals have a chance to head back home on a three-game winning streak — and with the WAC conference race looking tight as can be, every road win is precious.

Time constraints kept us from doing a full game preview, but the excellent Spartan Hoops has a game breakdown from the SJSU perspective.

We’ll have all the action for you from courtside in the Event Center. Pregame starts at 6:30 p.m., tipoff at 7.

Click here for Vandal Nation Live commentary, analysis and chat!

Hoops Preview: Lewis-Clark State (Neutrality violated edition)

29 Dec

Welcome back, Idaho fans — tonight it’s a showdown between the Vandals and Lewis-Clark State on a Qwest Arena floor that promises to be anything but neutral. Word is, the game’s nearly sold out, and with the Humanitarian Bowl tomorrow, it’s going to be a house packed with Vandal backers.

On paper, this should be a blowout — a Division I program that should contend for the WAC title against a middling NAIA squad. But the Vandals are in a deep funk, having lost two of their last three games and playing terribly in the one game they did win — a squeaker over NAIA Eastern Oregon. Conference play begins on Jan. 2 in Hawaii, and last year the Vandals were torched in Honolulu by the bottom-feeding Rainbow Warriors. If Idaho hopes to live up to its billing and fight for the WAC championship, they’ll have to turn their play around, and quickly.

Tonight’s contest is their last shot to show it.

We’ll be courtside with Vandal Nation Live play-by-play coverage. Pregame starts at 5:30 p.m. Pacific, tip at 6. Click here to join.

Lewis-Clark State Warriors (8-5)

Frontier Conference — 2009 record: 11-14 (lost to MSU-Northern in Frontier Conference Tournament First Round)

The Warriors started the season hot, but much like the Vandals, have struggled of late. They’ve lost four of their last six, including a narrow loss last night at home to NCAA Division III (non-scholarship) Wisconsin-Stout. They’ll jump on the bus and head for Boise today to play on one night’s rest, which does not bode well for their chances at pulling off a shocker upset.

In their two prior games against NCAA Division I opponents, Lewis-Clark State was comprehensively destroyed — an 82-53 pasting by Montana and an 73-51 beatdown by Washington State.

Nor does history provide comfort for the Warriors — the Vandals have won all 13 previous regular-season meetings between the Gem State’s northernmost four-year colleges.

However, for the Warriors the game counts only as an exhibition, not as part of their win-loss record, so there’s not much penalty for losing. Therefore, going for broke is always an option, and we’ll probably see LCSC throw everything they have at Idaho. It almost certainly won’t be enough, but as the Vandals found out to their terror against Eastern Oregon, it could scare the living daylights out of Idaho fans if Don Verlin’s crew don’t come out firing on all cylinders.

The “Key statistic” feature is taking the night off because it’s not particularly illuminating to compare season-long stats between NAIA and NCAA teams.

Projected Starters:

  • G #20 Markus Monroe, Jr. — 19.3 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 1.9 apg

A bigtime scoring machine for the Warriors, Monroe quickly earned himself a starting spot with smart shooting and bigtime moves. He’s the best backcourt shooter LCSC has, hitting at a .461 clip, and like Mac Hopson, he can clean up the glass, too. But Markus has been off the mark from beyond the arc, making 9 of 35 attempts for an awful .257 pace. Nor is he a great ball-handler, with 32 turnovers for just 19 assists. But he can go off for 30+ points in a game, so keeping him in check will be another key test for Idaho’s defense.

  • F #24 Tanner McIntosh, Sr. — 12.2 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 1.0 apg

Boasting some serious power forward size, the 6-8 big man has been the workhorse of Lewis-Clark State’s paint rotation. McIntosh is the team’s best shooter, knocking ‘em down at a .542 pace, and leads the Warriors in rebounding. He also plays nearly 32 minutes per game, also a team high. While McIntosh’s moves might not be up to Division I standards, the Vandals have proven vulnerable inside and Luiz Toledo needs to lock him down if Idaho wants to quickly dispel any upset hopes. Hack-a-McIntosh is a valid strategy, as he averages just .500 at the charity stripe.

  • G #5 Daniel Williams, Sr. — 11.7 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 3.2 apg

OK, forgive us for chuckling, but this guy is listed at 6-4, 220. Yipes. That’s not the normal setup for a shooting guard, and he might be huffing and puffing up the court against the Vandals’ Kashif Watson. That said, Williams can score in bunches. He’s not a great shooter — just .410 on the season — but he’s a solid ball-handler and grabs plenty of rebounds while cutting and slashing to the hoop. Note to Idaho’s defense: Let him shoot outside all he wants. He’s 3-for-22 (yeah, that bad) from downtown.

  • C #22 James Craft, Sr. — 8.3 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 0.3 apg

A Division I-quality big man who’s filtered down to the NAIA ranks, Craft’s 7-foot frame will even overshadow (if barely) Idaho center Marvin Jefferson. For a guy in the paint, he doesn’t shoot that well — just .444 from the floor — but he’s an astounding .864 free-throw shooter, so the Vandals’ inside rotation will have to be very careful not to send him to the foul line. One reason he might have lost his spots at Wright State and Tennessee State? Terrible ball-handling. He has 25 turnovers in 12 games for a .12 assist-to-turnover ratio.

  • G #2 Terrell Wallace, So. — 6.5 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 3.2 apg

As a freshman last season, Wallace was thrust into the starting spotlight after the Warriors’ returning point guard was sidelined with a season-ending back injury. He made a fine account of himself, posting a team-best 1.3 assist-to-turnover ratio and hitting a respectable .341 from downtown. Now a sophomore with a year of starting experience under his belt, Wallace is picking his shots better and is dishing up assists more efficiently. He’ll present an interesting defensive challenge for Mac Hopson.

Key reserves:

  • G #4 Derek Gianukakis, Jr. — 6.9 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 0.8 apg

The Warriors’ designated Annoying White Jump Shooter, Gianukakis takes two-thirds of his shots from beyond the arc and cans them at a team-best .426 clip. When he’s out on the floor, Idaho’s defense will have to watch out and lock down, or risk being peppered with 3-point rainbows. The good news? That’s pretty much the only dimension to his game, as he’s neither a great ball-handler nor does he have strong inside moves.

  • G #3 Jared Giammona, Jr. — 6.3 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 2.4 apg

Another reserve guard with a weird last name that starts with a G, Giammona is nearly as committed to the 3-point shot as Gianukakis. He’s started more than half of the Warriors’ games but seems to have fallen out of favor with the rise of Markus Monroe. Giamonna doesn’t seem to excel anywhere but he’s got a good set of skills all over the ball and that makes him a solid candidate to be first off the bench for Lewis-Clark State.

Hoops Preview: Portland (Deja vu edition)

22 Dec

Yes, the Vandals are playing Portland tonight — and yes, we’ve been there before.

Idaho took down the then-No. 25 Pilots in Moscow on Dec. 6. The stunning 20-point blowout helped knock Portland out of the Top 25.

Now, Idaho travels to Portland, and the Pilots will undoubtedly be out for revenge. Can the Vandals do on the road what they did at home? We’ll find out — the game tips at 7 p.m. We’ll have live scoring updates on Twitter.

The Pilots opened the season with five straight wins, including victories over Oregon, UCLA and No. 22 Minnesota, before losing a close fight to West Virginia. That was enough to earn them their first Top 25 ranking since the 1950s. But from there it was downhill — Portland dropped a close game at home in the city battle with Portland State and then fell to the Vandals.

In their two games since, they’ve edged Denver at home and were torched by Washington on the road. So the Pilots are 6-4.

A win over Idaho would avenge the brutal defeat in Moscow and put the Pilots back on the right track.

For the Vandals, the story is much the same — a win tonight would exorcise the demons of back-to-back disappointments against Washington State and Eastern Oregon, launching Idaho into the WAC season on the right track.

To get the win, the Vandals will need to return to the formula that made them a formidable hoops power: a balanced scoring attack with inside power from Marvin Jefferson and Luiz Toledo and outside sharpshooting from Steffan Johnson and Mac Hopson. After sitting the last two games with injury troubles (a big reason why Idaho struggled) Toledo’s scheduled to return to the lineup tonight. He’s got to play well for Idaho to leave the Beaver State with a win.

For our full breakdown on the Pilots from the last game, click here.

Vandal Nation Live: Idaho vs. Eastern Oregon

12 Dec

The Vandals hit the Memorial Gym hardwood for the last time this season, facing off against the Eastern Oregon Mountaineers. Will Idaho take out its frustrations on a squad they’ve never beaten by less than 19? Will the third digit on the scoreboard get lit up? Join us and find out. For our complete game preview, click here.

Pregame coverage starts at 4:30 p.m., tip at 5.

Click here for Vandal Nation Live courtside commentary, analysis and chat!

Three Thoughts From the Cougar Slaughter

11 Dec

So, with the benefit of a couple days’ hindsight, I’m going to swipe another idea from Chris Murray of the Reno Gazette-Journal (good artists copy, great artists steal) and post up three postgame thoughts from the Idaho Vandals’ beatdown by Washington State on Wednesday.

  1. We *need* either Luiz Toledo or Brandon Wiley, and preferably both, to be 100% healthy. Otherwise, we don’t have the muscle in the low post to get the job done. Downtown de Souza is a fine 3-point specialist winger, but he’s not suited for banging in the paint. With both Toledo and Wiley riding the pine with injuries on Wednesday, I should have recognized the mismatches would hurt us and hurt us a lot.
  2. In a related matter, our 3-point-heavy offense just doesn’t work if we don’t have an inside game. Without Toledo to make the easy layups and force them to pack the paint, Washington State sat in a zone and just dared us to jack up threes all night long. When we drove inside with Kashif or Mac, we got layups more often than not — but we couldn’t buy a basket from downtown, nor were we able to rebound the misses without Toledo’s hands up there. That’s what let Washington State pull out and blow the game wide open.
  3. Kashif Watson and Jeff Ledbetter are two of this team’s keys. Both are guys who know what their role is, play it to the hilt and don’t try to be what they’re not. You see Kashif get the ball, you know he’s going to fearlessly drive to the bucket and a. make a layup, b. get fouled or c. make a layup and get fouled. As for Jeff, he would have been 4-for-6 from 3-point range if not for jacking up a pair of desperation shots in the final minute. As it was, he canned back-to-back threes, including a contested NBA-range rainbow, to make it a 7-point game with 64 seconds left. That’s clutch.
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