Tag Archives: Utah Utes

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!

Boise State 77, Idaho 67

25 Jan

Somewhere in the locker room, there’s an Idaho basketball team that dropped 94 points on Utah and beat No. 25 Portland by 20 points. But those are now distant memories.

Idaho blew a 9-point lead over arch-rival Boise State, giving up an Anthony Thomas buzzer-beater to send the game into overtime — and from there the Broncos took over. Boise State avenged its sweep at the hands of the Vandals last season by defeating Idaho, 77-67.

The Vandals fall to 1-6 in the Western Athletic Conference, while the Broncos get their first win of the conference season and improve to 1-7.

We’ll have a complete postgame report later, but for now, here’s postgame interviews with coach Don Verlin and center Marvin Jefferson.

Vandal Spotlight: Jeff Ledbetter

8 Dec

With his flowing locks and dead-eye shooting, Jeff Ledbetter has had no problem at all making the transition from sunny Southern California to the wintry Idaho Palouse. The junior guard, who hails from Irvine, Calif., where he starred for the Irvine Valley Lasers, wasted no time establishing himself as one of the Vandals’ top threats from downtown.

In his first Division I game, on the road at Utah, Ledbetter exploded off the bench for 16 points on 5-for-7 shooting, and nailed four of six shots from beyond the arc. Those buckets were key to the Vandals’ season-opening 94-87 upset of the defending Mountain West Conference champion Utes.

While Ledbetter has not had a big-numbers night like that since, as coach Don Verlin plays with lineups and rotations, in virtually every game he’s provided a spark or forced defenders to take notice.

Take Sunday night’s victory over #25 Portland, for example. Jeff played a key role in a quick 8-0 Idaho run midway through the first half that broke the back of the visiting Pilots.

First, he dished to a wide-open Marcus Lawrence, who drilled the Vandals’ first 3-pointer of the afternoon. Just 57 seconds later, it was Ledbetter’s turn to score. Finding himself in position at the top of the key, Jeff pump-faked, stepped back and canned a contested trey. It was his only field goal of the night, but was it ever a big one.

Plus, he’s already grabbed a share of one honor: best hair in the WAC.

We sat down with Jeff last week to find out why he chose Idaho, how he’s developing as a student and an athlete and where he hopes the Vandals will go this season.

How did you get your start in basketball?

As far back as I can remember, my dad grew up playing basketball and my two brothers were playing, so a ball was put in my hands from day one.

I went to Orange Lutheran, and high school ball was a lot of fun. We had a great crowd, it was great to play in front of your friends. We never won CIF or state or anything but it was a fun time and a really good learning experience. It was the perfect school for me to go to.

Tell us about your career at Irvine Valley, and how did you end up with the Vandals?

I ended up going there after high school, I had a shoulder injury so I sat out and put on a bunch of weight, like 20 or 30 pounds. I knew I had to work hard, because my ultimate goal was to get to D-I.

My teammate, Kashif Watson, came up here first. I heard nothing but good things about Idaho and Coach Verlin and everyone, so I made it my mission to get up here too.

Moscow must have been quite a change!

Yeah, it was a lot different. I came out here in the summertime and didn’t know what cold meant, but I loved it from my first visit. All the guys chill together and we all get along, the chemistry was there from the start. I like having the college environment, too. I wanted to get away from California, experience something diferent, experience the seasons and the college town. As soon as I got here, I knew I wanted to play here.

Did you get any other offers?

There were a couple that I almost signed with after my freshman year, because Idaho didn’t have any scholarships available. But I decided to go back and play another year at Irvine. I didn’t want to rush into something because it’s a big decision to decide where you want to play. After that, Verlin called me up and it worked out how I wanted it to.

How do you think you’re developing as a player?

You know, I put on a lot of size in juco and that helped me a lot, getting in the weight room. You have to have strength to play at this level. A lot of is mental, though — you have to keep working, stay humble and never be satisfied with the way you are.

If you think you can always play better, you’ll keep getting better. That’s how we’ll have success this year. We are going to be the hardest-working team in the WAC.

What does it mean to put that Idaho uniform on and know you’re playing Division I?

It means a lot. That’s what happens when you work hard — you can do whatever you want. I had a few setbacks with injuries that made it really difficult. I spent a lot of time sitting out and wondering if my career was over and my dreams were done.

But my family and my close friends got me through those times. They kept pushing me to get back in there. Without them, I wouldn’t have made it.

You made a strong first impression in that Utah game.

It was fun, it was just fun to get out there and play. My adrenaline was rushing, I don’t even remember how I made those shots. It was fun to be with this group of guys, we played together, we all rallied together and won as a team. It wasn’t me, it was a team effort.

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Shootout in Northridge leaves Idaho’s defense in tatters

3 Dec

Set loose in Southern California, Idaho’s shooters once again ran wild, putting nearly enough points up on the scoreboard to light the third digit.

But homestanding Cal State-Northridge was able to counter the Vandals shot-for-shot, and down the stretch found Kenny Daniels to have no equal in an Idaho uniform. With his 39 points powering the defending Big West champions, Idaho fell to the Matadors tonight, 95-93, in the Matadome.

Led by Kashif Watson’s 15-for-15 performance from the free-throw line, Idaho (4-2) pulled out a 14-point lead early in the second half, and seemed to be on its way to a clean sweep of three NCAA Tournament teams on the road.

But backed by Daniels’ astounding scoring, the Matadors (4-3) closed the gap and pulled away. The Vandals simply couldn’t find a matchup answer to the versatile big man, who shot 12-of-17 from the field and sank 13 of 15 from the charity stripe, while pulling down 10 rebounds.

“We just didn’t get it done, and that’s the bottom line,” Idaho coach Don Verlin said. “We didn’t get the stops we needed to in the second half of this ball game. We score 93 points and lose – that’s a tough one to swallow.”

With 15:43 left in the second half, the Vandals held a 63-49 lead, but from there on out it would be all Northridge. In the next 12 minutes, the Matadors would go on a 36-14 run to take the lead for good, fueled by the Vandals going 8-for-20 from the floor and coughing up the ball four times.

Verlin’s team never quit, and Idaho was able to close the gap in the last minute, making it a one-possession game several times. But the Matadors always found a way to pull it out, usually by just handing the ball to Daniels and letting him go to work.

With just 1.5 seconds on the clock, Luciano de Souza was fouled on a last-second 3-point attempt and nearly earned a chance for a game-tying four-point play. His shot bounced out and denied that opportunity. de Souza did get three trips to the line and sank two, but his intentional miss on the last attempt was rebounded by Northridge, ending the game.

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Good Afternoon Vandal Nation: Nov. 19, 2009

19 Nov

Hey look, it’s another edition of everyone’s favorite link roundup!

A reminder: Tonight’s your last chance to see Idaho volleyball at home, as the Vandal spikers will take on Boise State in an intra-state grudge match at 7 p.m. in Memorial Gym. Idaho is locked into the No. 3 seed in the WAC Volleyball Tournament. If you can’t make it, we’ll have scoring updates on Twitter joined in progress.

Also, on Saturday we’ll be on the road from Fargo, N.D. with Vandal Nation Live coverage of men’s hoops: Idaho at North Dakota State. Pregame at 1:30 p.m., tipoff at 2. Click here to set an e-mail reminder.


  • The Vandal women picked up four top recruits, including 6-3 post Kelsey Bybee, who’s helped the Coeur d’Alene Vikings to consecutive Idaho State 5A Championships. She turned down Big 10, Big 12, WCC and other WAC offers in favor of the trip down US 95 to Moscow.


Good Afternoon Vandal Nation: Nov. 18, 2009

18 Nov

It’s another edition of our daily links roundup, again pretty slow because of a football bye week and because of academic stuff. However, tomorrow Vandal volleyball plays its final home game of the season, the grudge match against Boise State.



Good Afternoon Vandal Nation: Nov. 17, 2009

17 Nov

We’re slightly belated today by a couple interviews and projects in the hopper this morning, so let’s get right to your links.


  • I’ve got an Argonaut game story on the Vandals’ opening victory at Utah, but the lede got butchered in the editing process. The opening should read: Utah Utes coach Jim Boylen told the media Friday night’s game between his squad and Don Verlin’s Idaho Vandals was “Idaho’s Super Bowl.” If that’s so, then give the Vandals the Lombardi Trophy right now.


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