In just a few hours, the Vandals will take the court against Utah (6 p.m. PST tip) in their season opener. It's not an easy opening game, but it sure beats playing at Gonzaga and Michigan State in the first week like last year. Read on for more about tonight and some quotes from Don Verlin about UI's latest recruits and his philosophy of targeting high school vs. JC players.
The Vandals have some pretty heady expectations with four returning starters and lots of promising newcomers. The Utes, on the other hand, are a hard team to figure. They lost their two best starters (Luke Nevill and Lawrence Bohra) off last year's team and were picked fourth in the Mountain West. But they have a 7-foot-3 center and 6-11 forward in their lineup, so size will clearly be in their favor tonight.
These teams haven't met since 1976 and Idaho has never won at the Huntsman Center. It would obviously be a rousing start to the season if the Vandals were able to pull this one off.
Earlier this week the Vandals signed three recruits -- two JC players and a high schooler from Walla Walla. I talked to Don Verlin about the players and also asked him about the mix of JC/prep players he wants to recruit. Clearly in first two years, the Vandals have leaned to the JC route -- probably out of necessity.
Here's what Verlin had to say on the subject: "We would obviously like to base some or most of our recruiting at the high school level because you obviously have them longer.
But losing six seniors I thought we needed immediate help, and I thought we addressed some of those needs with Renado (Parker) and Idell (Bell)."
Verlin wants to fill the six scholarship spots and he said one more fall signing is possible, with another one possibly coming in the fall. That might leave a scholly to walk-on guard Marcus Lawrence.
About the six seniors who will depart, Verlin expressed his pleasure that all are on track to graduate.