Tag Archives: Washington Huskies

WAC Hoops Power Rankings: Dec. 1, 2009

1 Dec

As hoops season heats up, we’ll take this opportunity to begin our weekly Power Rankings of the Western Athletic Conference’s men’s basketball teams. These are, of course, our subjective opinion, so please feel free to agree or disagree at your leisure.

1. Idaho, 4-1 — The Vandals are off to their best start in more than 20 years. There’s more depth than on any other bench in the WAC and newcomers like Steffan Johnson, Luiz Toledo and Jeff Ledbetter have contributed lights-out shooting. Led by Mac Hopson, Idaho has one of the nation’s most efficient offenses, and the defense isn’t far behind. But the season’s toughest tests lie ahead, with a brutal three-game stretch — Big West champ Northridge, #25 Portland and red-hot Washington State. The next week may be the Vandals’ crucible.

2. Nevada, 2-3 — There’s still a lot of questions about the Pack’s depth, but nobody can challenge the talent found in the star pairing of Luke Babbitt and Armon Johnson. After taking defending national champion North Carolina right to the wall, Nevada showed it can compete score-for-score with the best teams in America. What remains to be seen, however, is how well Babbitt and Johnson will hold up down the stretch with virtually no bench support. Right now, the Pack can’t afford an off night from either of them.

3. Utah State, 3-2 — For a “rebuilding year” without inside-outside-do-everything superstud Gary Wilkinson, Stew Morrill’s Aggies are starting off reasonably well. Both losses came in close games on the road against quality opponents, and Nate Bendall is growing into the big shoes Wilkinson left. It’s not clear, though, that the Aggies have the firepower to be the unstoppable juggernaut they were last season. Two big home tests against BYU and Saint Mary’s await, and wins there might answer that question in the affirmative.

4. San Jose State, 2-3 — This may be too high, but I like the spunk the Spartans are showing early. They beat previously-undefeated Pacific, hung with Pac-10 favorite Washington and, last night, very nearly upended WCC powerhouse Saint Mary’s. These are long-awaited promising signs for a long-suffering San Jose State team. The question has long been whether coach George Nessman can put together the talented pieces he has on his roster, and this might be the year he finally pulls it off.

5. Louisiana Tech, 5-1 — The win number is gaudy, but as Chris Murray of the Reno Gazette-Journal pointed out, those five wins came against teams with a combined six victories of their own. Now, you can only win the games you play, so it’s a little unfair to dock them too much, but racking up big victory margins over terrible opponents doesn’t really tell us that much about how well the Bulldogs will do against a WAC schedule that’s practically bursting with depth and firepower.

6. Boise State, 4-2 — OK, so there’s not many quality wins here either, and Anthony “Guarantee” Thomas seems to be regressing, but Ike Okoye is growing into a certifiable stud in the paint and the Broncos do have some talented newcomers making contributions. A 26-point thrashing at the hands of a very mediocre Wyoming squad, however, says Boise State has a long way to go before it can think about contending for a spot in the conference’s top tier.

7. New Mexico State, 2-3 — Until the Aggies show some semblance of defense, this might be as high as they go. Getting back Troy Gillenwater and Wendell McKines after next week will be huge, but the fact is right now, Marvin Menzies’ crew is giving up 85 points per game and allowing opponents to shoot 46 percent. When you win your gimme game against a D-II school by only 10 points, there’s something very wrong. This evening’s game against UTEP could get ugly.

8. Fresno State, 2-3 — A pair of weak wins to open the season has been followed by three straight weak losses, as the Bulldogs fell to Division I newcomer Seattle and perennial WCC mid-packer Santa Clara. Fresno State’s put together a solid defensive package, but despite their obvious talent on the floor, they’re still the WAC’s lowest-scoring and most inefficient team. There’s a lot of youth so it might take a few games to come together as a team — but that seems to be the excuse for Fresno State every year, doesn’t it?

9. Hawaii, 2-3 — The WAC’s basket case program can’t catch a break, as Dwain Williams, a transfer from Providence and a key piece of Bob Nash’s plan to rebuild the Rainbow Warriors (and save his job), was suspended for two games and is reported to be quite unhappy in Honolulu. They’re producing the second-worst shooting percentage and worst shooting defense in the conference. Unless things turn around quickly, it’s shaping up to be another very long season in paradise.

Good Morning Vandal Nation: Nov. 21, 2009

21 Nov

FARGO, N.D. — Good morning from the tundra of North Dakota, where it’s a balmy 50 degrees.

The Vandals take on North Dakota State in college hoops this afternoon at 2 p.m. Pacific. We’re on the road, and we’ll have Vandal Nation Live courtside coverage with pregame at 1:30. Click here to join or set an e-mail reminder.

Basketball

Football

Good Morning Vandal Nation: Nov. 20, 2009

20 Nov

SPOKANE, Wash.— Just sneaking in under the bell, it’s this morning’s link roundup. We’re en route to Fargo, N.D. for tomorrow’s basketball game, so posting will be pretty light today. We’ll try to get a game preview up tonight when we stop in Denver.

Last night, Idaho’s spikers ran Boise State right out of Mem Gym with a straight-sets sweep of the Broncos — made even sweeter by it being Senior Night. The Vandals have the No. 3 seed in next week’s WAC Volleyball Tournament and will play… No. 6 seed Boise State. The Argonaut’s Lisa Short has a preview.

The women’s hoopsters weren’t as lucky, falling 54-51 in overtime at Eastern Washington, after coughing up a big late lead with a slew of turnovers.

Again, Vandals/Bison men’s hoops tips off at 2 p.m. Pacific time tomorrow, and we’ll have Vandal Nation Live courtside coverage, with pregame at 1:30. Click here to join, or set an e-mail reminder.

Basketball

  • Another pair of Idaho’s future opponents — Seattle U. and Fresno State — went toe-to-toe last night and this time it was the Redhawks pulling off the upset on Elgin Baylor Night. The Seattle U. Basket Blog has the story.

Football

Idaho’s bowl dreams hinge on home opener

17 Sep

I was wrong.

Last week in this same space, I said the Idaho Vandals’ game against the Washington Huskies would be a key turning point for the program. After seeing them in action in Seattle, I’m not so sure of that anymore.

About Saturday’s game against the San Diego State Aztecs, though, there is less doubt. If the Vandals can’t win their home opener against a mediocre Mountain West squad that went 2-10 last year, hopes for something dramatically better than last year’s 2-10 campaign will quickly dim.

In Seattle on Sept. 12, third-year coach Robb Akey’s team pretty much split the difference between my two projected outcomes. The game wasn’t an utterly confidence-destroying blowout, but neither was it particularly close. The Vandals only managed to cover the spread by scoring a garbage-time touchdown against the Huskies’ scrubs.

The game can pretty much be summed up by the first-half offensive stats.

Idaho marched down into Washington territory three times. The result? Three Trey Farquhar field goals.

Washington marched down into Idaho territory three times. The result? Three Jake Locker touchdowns — two passing, one rushing.

That resulted in a halftime score of 21-9 in favor of the Huskies. The score would not get any closer.

But the Washington Huskies of 2009 are not the 0-12 Huskies of 2008. Steve Sarkisian is one of the game’s great offensive minds and with a team loaded full of Pac-10 talent, the Vandals really never had much of a chance. To be 1-1 after the season’s first two games — both of them on the road — is no mean feat for a Vandal team that hadn’t won a road game, period, under Akey’s leadership.

This Saturday, though, the action shifts to the Kibbie Dome and the stakes are raised. The Aztecs dominated the Vandals last year, 42-17, one of just two wins for a woeful San Diego State squad that even lost to the FCS Cal Poly Mustangs. Avenging that loss, in the remodeled Dome’s first game, would be a sweet christening indeed.

For the Vandals to improve on last year’s 2-10 record, the winning needs to start now, at home in the non-conference calendar. Moreover, for Akey’s Army to back up its stated objective of going bowling, it’s essentially a must-win game.

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Locker, Huskies unstoppable as Vandals fall, 42-23

12 Sep

SEATTLE— Jake Locker and the Washington Huskies had their way with the Idaho Vandals’ defense today, as the Huskies scored touchdowns on all three of their first-half possessions en route to a 42-23 victory in Husky Stadium.

Junior quarterback Nate Enderle effectively led Idaho’s offensive attack, throwing for 279 yards on 22-of-33 passing. But the Vandals (1-1, 1-0 WAC) racked up seven penalties for 63 yards in the first quarter alone, including three consecutive flags that killed the opening drive. Once the Vandals reached the red zone, the offense sputtered — three first-half drives inside the 20 resulted only in three Trey Farquhar field goals.

“We had opportunities, we just didn’t capitalize on them,” Enderle said. “If those drives had been touchdowns, we’d have been tied going into halftime (instead of being down by 12). That’s a huge swing. We shot ourselves in the foot.”

Coach Robb Akey was frustrated at the flag-filled first quarter, and was quick to lay the blame squarely at the feet of his squad.

“I’ve never seen so many holding penalties called in one game. It’s not that they were called, it’s the fact that we did it and I’m not happy about it,” Akey said.

The Huskies (1-1), who had lost 15 consecutive games dating back to November 2007, took full advantage of Idaho’s missteps to break the nation’s longest futility streak. On their first three possessions, they scored touchdowns, and out of nine total drives, six ended in the end zone. Locker threw for 253 yards and 3 touchdowns on 17-25 passing, and ran in for a touchdown of his own. Chris Polk rushed for 92 yards and a touchdown, including several huge third-down conversions.

Overall, Washington converted 11 of its 14 third downs and, just to rub it in, a key fourth-down conversion which resulted in the Huskies’ third first-half score. The Vandals managed just 4 of 12 on third-down plays.

“When we give up those kinds of third-down conversions, we lose the game,” Akey said. “Every third down is an opportunity to take their offense off the field and get something going. We didn’t make those plays and the Huskies did.”

As the game’s second half began with the Vandals trailing 21-9, the Huskies’ Curtis Shaw fumbled the kickoff return and Idaho linebacker Korey Toomer grabbed what seemed like a game-changing turnover. The Vandals were suddenly deep in Husky territory and on the verge of bringing the game within a score. But on the drive’s third play, Enderle was picked off by Husky linebacker Mason Foster, and four plays later, Washington had its fourth touchdown.

“I just didn’t see (Foster),” Enderle admitted. “He dropped right in and grabbed the ball. That’s all I can say.”

Max Komar led the Vandals’ receiving corps with 5 catches for 111 yards, and made several big kickoff return plays. He said the offense was able to effectively exploit weaknesses in the Huskies’ secondary, but the inability to finish drives was “a killer.”

“We saw on the film that (Washington) had a really good front seven but a vulnerable secondary, and that’s where we wanted to push,” Komar said.

The Enderle interception may have been the nail in the coffin for Idaho’s comeback hopes, and Komar said the offense has to take the blame.

“We came out excited, the kickoff return team got us a turnover and that’s something you have to take advantage of. You have to be able to score in that situation. We didn’t,” Komar said. “I saw a lot of people with their heads down after that play.”

Backup quarterback Brian Reader came out for the Vandals’ final series, and led an efficient, 92-yard touchdown drive in the game’s waning minutes that saw  running back De’Maundray Woolridge punch in from 6 yards out. Reader performed solidly, throwing 4-of-7 for 70 yards. Akey said he was just getting Reader some game time, not auditioning for a potential starting quarterback change.

“We were 26 points down, I just wanted to see what Brian can do because he has to be ready for whatever the need may be. I saw some good things,” Akey said.

Woolridge led the Vandals’ rushing attack and scored both touchdowns. Here, though, “led” is relative — he managed just 41 yards on 7 carries. A frustrated Woolridge said he wasn’t happy with anything but a W.

“I may have put some points on the board, but overall that doesn’t satisfy me at all,” Woolridge said.

The Vandals return to Moscow for their home opener on Sept. 19, when they’ll take on the San Diego State Aztecs in the newly-remodeled Kibbie Dome at 2 p.m.

Halftime Report: Washington 21, Idaho 9

12 Sep

The Idaho Vandals defense is being carved up left and right by Jake Locker and the Washington Huskies, and at the halftime break, Washington leads Idaho by the score of 21-9.

Nate Enderle and the rest of Idaho’s offensive unit has been effective at moving the ball up to Washington’s red zone, but on three successive drives the forward progress has stalled there. Trey Farquhar is a perfect 3-for-3 on field goals, but the Huskies are a perfect 3-for-3 on touchdown drives.

Enderle has been a solid 16-for-22 passing, with 202 yards, no interceptions and just 1 sack. But hitting the red zone, his offense sputters and dies. The Vandals have just 19 rushing yards, as the Vandal offensive line has been unable to open up holes as it did last week against New Mexico State.

This game is by no means out of reach, but the Vandals have to find a way to stop the Huskies, and it starts with the opening drive of the half — Washington will receive the kickoff.

Join us in the Vandal Nation liveblog for complete coverage, including postgame updates.

Vandal Football Gameday: Washington

12 Sep

Fresh off their first season-opening win in a decade, the Idaho Vandals take on the Washington Huskies in Seattle today. Last week, Akey’s Army took control early in Las Cruces — the 1-0 (1-0 WAC) Vandals need to do the same against an 0-1 Huskies squad that hasn’t won a game since November, 2007.

Kickoff is set for 12:30 p.m. Pacific time at Husky Stadium.

Click here to join us for live, play-by-play commentary and chat beginning at noon.

We’ll also have regular scoring updates on the Vandal Nation Twitter — follow us!

Pregame Roundup

Here’s the Idaho official pregame notes.

GoVandals.net’s Matt Dessert has a comprehensive game preview and a handy depth chart.

WACSports.com has an official preview of the day’s seven games involving WAC teams.

We’ve got a Better Know a Foe on the Huskies and a commentary on what the Vandals need to do today to hang with the Huskies.

The Arg’s Jennifer Schlake also has a game preview.

The Idaho Statesman’s Nick Jezierny talks about the Vandals’ deep corps of rushers.

The Tacoma News-Tribune’s Todd Milles has yet another story about the Vandals’ connections to the Huskies.

ESPN.com has an article on Colorado’s meltdown vs. Toledo last night. The Buffs gave up 624 yards of total offense and were down 30 at one point in the fourth quarter. Final score, 54-38 Rockets. The Big 12 never looked so small.

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