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.

Better Know a Foe: Washington

11 Sep

In this edition of Better Know a Foe, we asked longtime Seattle Post-Intelligencer sports journalist Jim Moore to tell us about the Washington Huskies.

Vandal Nation: After 15 straight losses, what’s the mindset of Huskies fans?

Jim Moore: Husky fans think the losing streak will end tomorrow. They don’t think Idaho will be much of a test. That’s the feeling I get around town. It’s pretty much based on the impressive performance they turned in during a 31-23 loss to LSU last week. People figure if they can hang with a team like that, they should be able to crush a team like the Vandals. I personally hope that’s not the case.

Is anyone on the Husky side predicting that it might be a close, hard-fought game, or is everyone dismissing the Vandals offhand?

I saw that a couple of guys at Dawgman.com, one of the main Husky fan websites, picked Washington to win but not cover the 21-point spread. And Bud Withers of the Seattle Times took Washington to win 38-20. I’m hoping for a 38-35 Idaho victory with Robb Akey leaving the field on his players’ shoulders but feeling like Washington will probably slop out a 14-point win.

How could the Huskies turn the game into a blowout?

They’ve got one of the best players in college football in my opinion in Jake Locker, who might throw for 300 yards and run for another 100 against the Vandals. He’s super fast for such a big kid. And James Johnson is a true freshman who’s an extraordinary receiver. The Huskies also have a game-breaker in RB Chris Polk. If the Vandals win, it’ll probably be in a high-scoring shootout.

How could the Huskies blow it?

I like answering this question better than the previous one. How can the Huskies blow it? It would be beautiful if they did, and it’s certainly possible. A team that has lost 15 in a row surely could lose 16 in a row. They haven’t proven that they know how to win.

I think a big key, and it’s probably cliche to say this but is really huge in this game, is for Idaho to win the toss, take the ball and score on its first drive to take the win-starved Husky fans out of the game a little bit. I tend to think that the atmosphere might be a little overwhelming for the Vandals unless that happens.

Then the Vandals need to just hang around. If they’re in the game in the fourth quarter, either within seven or tied or ahead by three, anything in that ballpark, the Huskies might start feeling like they’re going to blow it again. That would work to the Vandals’ advantage, and that’s what I’m hoping will happen.

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The WAC Lunch Hour: Sept. 11, 2009

11 Sep

Today in the WAC Lunch Hour, we’ve got a pile of links previewing tomorrow’s Vandals/Huskies Battle in Seattle.

Vandal Nation will have an interactive liveblog beginning at noon Saturday - click here to join!

We’ll also provide periodic updates on our Twitter.

Football

Basketball

Volleyball

Vandal Spotlight: Princeton McCarty

10 Sep
Princeton McCarty

Princeton McCarty

Princeton McCarty’s unassisted faceplant a yard shy of the end zone in the Vandals’ victory last week over the New Mexico State Aggies is a sure bet for the year-end sports blooper shows.

But that one moment overshadowed a strong season-opening performance from the sophomore running back. He punched in for a touchdown on the next play, and ended the day gaining 96 yards and one TD on eight carries. Overall, the Vandals rushed for 171 yards, with four players racking up double digits on the ground. The resurgent rushing offense is a key to the rebirth of Akey’s Army.

We sat down with McCarty this week to talk about his big trip, his big play and the Vandals’ big game Saturday against the Washington Huskies.

Vandal Nation: OK, we have to ask. What happened there at the goal line? Did you hit a divot or just get tangled up?

Princeton McCarty: I just tripped. That’s all I can really say. I don’t think there was a divot or anything, I just turned around to check behind me and bam, I was down.

Was it planned that you’d get a second chance?

Definitely. After I got to the sideline, it hit me. I realized, “Oh my God, I’m at the one, I gotta finish this off.” I told coach (Robb Akey) that I wanted the ball on the next play. The offensive line really set up that hole, though. The way they lined up, I knew there’d be an opening. I ran exactly behind Kevin Small and I remember his block just driving over a guy.

What does it mean to the team to get that first win in the season opener?

It’s big. You know, we feel confident now — it’s a new year, what’s happened before is in the past. This is exactly what we wanted to come out and do, because from spring ball on, your first opponent is marked on the calendar. You want to come out strong and that’s exactly what we did.

Quite a difference from last year’s opening game (a 70-0 loss to Arizona), wasn’t it?

Oh yeah, I forgot all about that. I had to think about who we played. Starting the season like this, it helps a lot. You realize your team’s identity, you see people make plays and you realize how good of a team you can be. We’re leading the WAC now. That’s a great feeling, and it makes us all want to build on that so we can stay there.

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The WAC Lunch Hour: Sept. 10, 2009

10 Sep

Today’s WAC Lunch Hour has plenty to say about the Idaho/Washington matchup, a new WAC bowl tie-in plus some basketball tidbits.

Football

Basketball

The WAC Lunch Hour: Sept. 9, 2009

9 Sep

Plenty of news in today’s Vandal Roundup, which will become a regular noontime feature here:

Football

Basketball

Soccer

Akey’s Army: A crossroads in Seattle

9 Sep

Last Saturday, the Idaho Vandals did something they hadn’t done in a decade: they won their season-opening game, and in dominating fashion. The New Mexico State Aggies were never even close, falling to the Vandals by the score of 21-6.

With 60 minutes of chain-moving offense and stifling defense on the hostile turf of Aggie Stadium, coach Robb Akey and Akey’s Army just may have done something even more important: bring hope to a program that, for much of the last decade, has known little but futility and despair.

This Saturday, when the Vandals travel to Seattle to face the Washington Huskies, we should find out whether or not Idaho football is truly on the road back to respectability. Vandal Nation will bring it to you live from Husky Stadium.

An acid test in Husky Stadium

If the Vandals’ season-opening win in Las Cruces provided a much-needed confidence boost, the upcoming contest in Seattle will provide a sobering reality check. The Washington Huskies may be on a 15-game losing streak, but under new coach Steve Sarkisian, they looked like a whole new team and were nearly a match for nationally-ranked LSU. Jake Locker is one of the best QBs in America right now. Make no mistake, Washington desperately wants a victory and smells blood in the water with Idaho coming to town. The oddsmakers have laid their bets — the Vandals are 21-point underdogs.

Akey’s Army certainly wants a win too, and the upset is by no means out of the question. But a loss would not be unexpected, nor need it be disastrous. What would be both of those is a loss in which the Vandals are never even close. Idaho needs to score early, score often and not fall behind by too great a margin. Keep the game within a touchdown going into the fourth quarter, and the last 15 minutes will be anyone’s ballgame.

Either way, the Vandals can come back to Moscow with heads held high after battling a Pac-10 team to the final whistle. If that happens, Akey’s Army will be in great shape to take down San Diego State in the Kibbie Dome next week in the home opener. But if the Vandals return home with slumped shoulders, having been mercilessly destroyed by the Huskies, the hard-won confidence of this week will be but a distant memory.

There’s every reason to believe the Vandals can take the fight to the Huskies and come out victorious — but it won’t happen unless the flaws exposed by the Aggies are fixed, or at least patched up. Read on to find out what gives us hope and what gives us pause.

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The Vandals win!

5 Sep

There’s still work to be done, but the Idaho Vandals have picked up their first season-opening victory in a decade by taking down the New Mexico State Aggies, 21-6, in Las Cruces.

We tentatively will be liveblogging from Seattle as the Vandals take on the Washington Huskies next Saturday!

More soon.

On the Record with Don Verlin: “I wish we had more home games”

3 Sep
Courtesy UI Athletics

Don Verlin

The 2009-10 Idaho Vandals men’s basketball schedule has been released, and we sat down yesterday with coach Don Verlin to find out his thoughts on the Vandals’ foes and the chase for the Western Athletic Conference championship.

Tomorrow, in the second half of the interview, we’ll quiz Don on his scheduling philosophy and the challenge of putting together a winnable mid-major schedule.

Vandal Nation: I have to say, this looks a lot like a Stew Morrill schedule down at Utah State.

Don Verlin: Well, I did them at Utah State, so it would look pretty similar! We don’t have as many home games as those guys have. They have 19 home games and are hosting a tournament — it’s a great deal for them. I wish we had more home games. That’s the thing I don’t like about our schedule.

You’re opening up the season with some real road challenges, at Utah and North Dakota State.

That’s going to be a tough trip. Utah, they’re a real good team that won the Mountain West and went to the NCAA Tournament last year. Then we’ve got to get to Fargo, not an easy journey, to play North Dakota State, which won the Summit League. Two of our first three games are played against conference champion, NCAA Tournament teams. Early on, we are going to find out exactly where our team is at.

Comparing the tentative schedule to the final one, you were able to move the Portland game up to early December. Was that so the student crowd will be in full force?

Yep, that’s exactly why we did it. It’s going to be on a Sunday afternoon, 5 p.m. start. I thought that after Sunday football, our fans would come out and watch us play. It’s going to be our first game back in the Dome and we’re excited about that. Portland’s a very good West Coast Conference squad, they beat Nevada and Washington last year and took Oregon to overtime. They return everyone so it’ll be a real test.

They beat us last year too.

Yes they did, and we’re going to want a little payback for that.

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