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College basketball 2014-2015

It’s a year of change in the local college basketball scene, especially at Washington State University and the University of Idaho. The Cougars welcome in veteran coach Ernie Kent who brings his positive style to a basketball program in desperate need of energy and wins. Across the border in Idaho, the Vandals return to their old stomping grounds – the Big Sky Conference to renew old rivalries with the likes of Eastern Washington and Montana. The Whitworth men and Gonzaga women are looking for guards to step in a fill big shoes, but the WSU women and Washington women are loaded in the backcourt. Check out our college basketball special section for all this plus rosters and schedules for every team in the area.

Washington’s Shawn Kemp Jr. has health under control, aims to make the most of his senior season

Some of the baggage and burden of Shawn Kemp Jr.’s basketball life has been assigned, and some has been courted. He didn’t pick his name, for instance – that came from his father, the former NBA superstar. But he did choose his dad’s game, and when it came time to pick a college, he elected to attend the University of Washington in the same town where the senior Kemp polished his star with the Seattle SuperSonics.

Idaho Vandals men’s basketball 5 keys to success

1 Growing up quickly. Coach Don Verlin’s eligible roster includes nine freshmen and sophomores, plus a JC transfer. Not that this is all so different – Verlin had 10 new faces last year, though half were seasoned transfers. He knows he needs to get them game-ready quickly, which is why he scheduled two exhibitions rather than just one, plus a doors-closed scrimmage. There are also two long trips to accelerate the bonding process, and rivalry games with Boise State and Washington State in a nine-day span to ramp up the intensity. Soon enough, some of the kids are going to have to play older than their years. One early possibility: 6-5 freshman Victor Sanders, who the Vandals landed a week before school started. 2 Replacing Stephen Madison’s production. That’s 20 points and eight rebounds that left with the 6-6 forward, Idaho’s leading scorer in 23 games last year. This should be no bulletin: it’ll be by committee. “I’ve told our guys, some of the best teams have four of five guys average in double figures,” Verlin said. “We’ll be different. This is going to have to be a team effort.”

University of Idaho 2014-2015 men’s basketball roster

No. NamePos.Ht.Wt.Yr.Hometown (Previous school)1 Callandret, PerrionG6-2180So.Bothel, Wash. (Bothel HS)2 Wiggs, SekouPG6-4182So.Seattle, Wash. (O'Dea HS)3 Straughan, JakeG6-1175Fr.Colton, Wash. (Colton HS)5 Hill, ConnorG6-3190Sr.Post Falls, Idaho (Post Falls HS)11 Sanders, VictorG6-5195Fr.Portland, Ore. (Jefferson High School)12 Scott, MikePG6-0180Sr.Los Angeles, Calif. (Antelope Valley CC)13 Seck, BiraPF6-6215Sr.Dakar, Senegal (Olney Central College)14 Sherwood, ChadG6-2180Fr.Albany, Ore. (West Albany HS)15 Mpawe, PaulinF6-10227Jr.San Bernardino, Calif. (San Bern. Valley)21 Mkrtychyan, ArkadiyF6-7235Fr.Portland (Columbia Christian HS)23 Sherwood, NatePF6-8Fr.Albany, Ore. (West Albany HS)24 George, NahshonF6-9200Jr.Kapolei, Hawai`i (Shoreline CC)33 White, SkylerF6-7238So.Bellevue, Wash. (George Washington)41 Egbert, TyF6-9195So.Coulee Dam, Wash. (Lake Roosevelt HS)44 Scott, JordanSF6-6200Fr.Colorado Springs, Colo. (Lewis-Palmer)50 Asencio, RobertoC6-9245Jr.Haina, D.R. (Des Moines Area CC)

Washington Huskies men’s basketball 5 keys to success

1 Finding C.J.’s surrogate. Guards Nigel Williams-Goss and Andrew Andrews are obviously more-than- capable scorers, but C.J. Wilcox was the kind of weapon who forced teams to game plan for him. What’s more, he took 42 percent of the Huskies’ 3-pointers last season and was far and away their most accurate long-distance shooter. His presence allowed Williams-Goss to blossom, and now he’ll be the one getting all the defensive attention. 2 There is no “I” in “D.” But there needs to be an “E” – as in everyone. Statistically, the Huskies were the Pac-12’s worst team in field goal defense (47.5 percent? Ugh!) and easily the worst by the eye test. This was largely an interior failing – the graduated Perris Blackwell was hardly the human eraser. The arrival of 7-footer Robert Upshaw figures to be a significant upgrade in this department, but Shawn Kemp Jr. needs to assert himself as a rebounder, too. And mostly, the Huskies have to look like they care about stops.