Everything tagged

Latest from The Spokesman-Review

Idaho offers Tobeck’s son; Petrino chats about QBs, more

Paul Petrino wore a wide smile after practice on Monday evening. Maybe that was because the Vandals had another solid spring session, or maybe it was because of who was in attendance. Standing on the sideline were former Seahawks offensive lineman Robbie Tobeck and Tobeck's son, Mason. Earlier in the day, Idaho offered a scholarship to Mason, a junior tight end and linebacker at Cascade Christian in Puyallup, Wash. He's also been offered by Colorado State. Robbie played at Washington State and spent 13 years in the NFL.

After Petrino shook hands with both Tobecks following practice, we ran through a quick one-on-one interview with the second-year coach. Petrino said he doesn't foresee naming a starting quarterback before the start of fall camp, and he also gave us his philosophy on long scrimmages.

Epps, Olugbode star in Idaho’s second spring scrimmage

Dezmon Epps and Deon Watson had huge receiving days. Kris Olugbode churned out yards on the ground. And Irving Steele made his presence felt at linebacker.

Epps, Watson and Olugbode were three of several offensive standouts for the Idaho football team on Friday, which held its second scrimmage of spring practice at the Kibbie Dome.

After converted receiver Josh McCain put up big numbers in the first scimmage last week, Epps had the spotlight on Friday with 17 catches for 218 yards and four touchdowns. Watson, a redshirt sophomore from Coeur d'Alene, had nine catches for 170 yards and two TDs, while McCain went for seven catches for 73 yards.

Olugbode rushed for 200 of Idaho's 321 yards. And once again, redshirt freshman quarterback Matt Linehan attempted significantly more passes than Chad Chalich. Linehan was 33 of 52 for 401 yards, but Chalich (18 of 32 for 304) squeezed more yards out of his attempts.

Steele, a JC newcomer, had 18 tackles, matching cornerback Jayshawn Jordan's total. Zach Cable had four tackles for loss.

More below.

Idaho hires Ambrose as secondary coach

Ashley Ambrose, a 13-year NFL veteran with experience coaching at high-level college programs, has joined Paul Petrino's staff as secondary coach. Ambrose spent three years at Colorado (2008-2010) and two seasons at Cal (2011-2012), where he coached defensive backs. He played with the Colts, Bengals, Saints and Falcons and was named the AFC Defensive Back of the Year in 1996.

“We’re real excited to have Coach Ambrose on the staff,” Petrino said in a statement. “He was a great player in the NFL and played under some of the greater coaches ever. He brings great knowledge of the game.”

Ambrose has a big task in front of him — Idaho ranked second-worst in the FBS last year in passing yards allowed (315.8 per game) and its best cover corner, Solomon Dixon, left the program after the season.

Ambrose has worked at UI as a consultant to the coaching staff during the first week-plus of spring ball. He replaces Mike Mickens, who spent one year at Idaho before leaving for Bowling Green.

Petrino on Idaho’s first scrimmage

The Idaho football team spent three hours inside the Kibbie Dome on Saturday morning and early afternoon. Most of that time was dedicated to the first scrimmage of spring, which spanned roughly 190 plays. We've posted the full comments from coach Paul Petrino after the scrimmage.

Read on.

Photo of quarterbacks Chad Chalich and Matt Linehan (10) courtesy of the University of Idaho.

Petrino pleased on eve of scrimmage

Late in Idaho's fourth practice of the spring on Friday evening, running back Jerrel Brown turned to teammate Kris Olugbode and yelled, “I could do this all day!” Tomorrow, he might actually get a chance to.

The Vandals will hold their first scrimmage of spring at the Kibbie Dome at 10 a.m., and if it's like most of UI's scrimmages last season, it could be a marathon. Coach Paul Petrino likes to run through 100 or more plays in rapid succession to get his team acclimated to a fast game tempo. He even told Idaho defenders during Friday's practice to ease up on trying to tackle offensive players who were off-limits, because “we're going to hit for three hours tomorrow.”

On the eve of scrimmage No. 1, I talked to Petrino, offensive coordinator Kris Cinkovich, quarterback-turned-receiver Joshua McCain and linebacker Marc Millan. Their thoughts — and few of my observations — are below.

Idaho opens spring football

It came two days later than scheduled because of the weather, but Day 1 of spring practice at Idaho is complete. And coach Paul Petrino said the Vandals are way ahead of where they were a year ago.

We have a quick recap of the Sunday afternoon practice below. The Vandals will go Monday at 3:30 p.m., followed by sessions on Wednesday and Friday before the first scrimmage of spring on Saturday at 10 a.m.

Read on.

Previewing Idaho spring football

Paul Petrino's second spring football at Idaho will look similar to his first a year ago. But there will be key differences. The quarterbacks will be off-limits after getting whacked last year. The coaches might try to install the playbook quicker now that many of the players are in the second year of the system. And for at least the first little bit, the Vandals will have Robert Asencio, a 6-foot-9 basketball player who's never played football, trying out with them at wide receiver. “You don’t see too many 6-9 guys walking around who can run and catch,” Petrino said, “so I’m excited to get him out there and see what we can do.”

Our spring preview story can be found here, and we've posted more from Petrino heading into the first day of practice (4 p.m. at the SprinTurf field weather permitting). Read on.

Vandals fall short of NCAA bid

Idaho's late-season mojo was no match for New Mexico State's size and athleticism.

The Vandals' best conference tournament showing in more than two decades ended one win shy of an NCAA tournament bid on Saturday when they fell quietly to New Mexico State, 77-55, in the WAC championship game in Las Vegas. Idaho shot just 38 percent and was outrebounded 38-21 by the much bigger and more physical Aggies.

After winning four straight and six of seven, Idaho's season ended at 16-18. This was its first conference title game since 1993. UI was seeking the school's first NCAA tournament bid in 24 years.

NMSU, which has won three straight WAC tournament crowns, controlled the paint with center 7-foot-5, 355-pound center Sim Bhullar and athletic big man Tshilidzi Nephawe. Bhullar, the tournament MVP, had 14 points and nine rebounds while Nephawe went for 12 and 7.

The Vandals knew they couldn't match up with NMSU's monstrous front line. But when the shots stopped falling after going up 8-3, Idaho was in trouble. The Aggies unleashed a 15-3 run and led by double digits most of the rest of the way.

Senior Stephen Madison led the Vandals with 17 points in his final game at Idaho, and point guard Mike Scott had 14 points. Shooting guard Connor Hill, who helped UI get on a late-season roll, was 0-for-5 from the 3-point line and finished with six points.

Idaho men upend Utah Valley to reach WAC title game

Suddenly, everything is coming together for the Idaho men's basketball team. One more win, and it will find itself in the NCAA tournament for the first time in 24 years.

The fifth-seeded Vandals showed poise in crunch time to knock off No. 1 seed Utah Valley 74-69 in the WAC semifinals in Las Vegas. Their fourth straight win — and sixth in seven games — put them in their first conference championship game since 1993.

UI last went to the NCAA tournament in 1990.

Both the Idaho men and women will play in the WAC title game on Saturday. The Vandal men will face the winner of the New Mexico State-Cal State Bakersfield game at 7 p.m. on ESPNU.

Senior Stephen Madison was superb again for the Vandals (16-17). He scored 25 points and grabbed five rebounds, after his 26-point, 17-rebound performance on Thursday against UMKC. Mike Scott carried the Vandals in the first half and finished with 14 points, while redshirt freshman Ty Egbert came up with a team-high seven rebounds and hit 2 of 4 free throws late.

Vandals, Verlin get elusive WAC tournament win

Idaho's ineptitude in the WAC tournament? It's history. Senior Stephen Madison put in a masterful performance and his teammates stepped up in the final minutes as the Vandals vanquished the University of Missouri-Kansas City, 73-70, in the quarterfinals of the WAC tourney in Las Vegas.

This was Don Verlin's first win in the WAC tournament after going 0-5 to start his tenure at Idaho. And it was only Idaho's second win in this event since joining the WAC before the 2005-2006 season. It came at the right moment, too — the Vandals will depart for the Big Sky Conference this summer.

“It feels awfully good, and Stephen and I enjoyed a special moment because we hadn’t gotten one yet,” Verlin said.

Fifth-seeded Idaho (15-17) moves on to the semifinal tomorrow night, when it will face No. 1 seed Utah Valley at 6 p.m. The Vandals lost both regular-season matchups against UVU, but the games were decided by a total of six points.

Keep reading for more.

Can the Idaho men break through?

Since joining the WAC, the Idaho men's basketball team has won one conference tournament game, and that was an opening round affair in 2007. The Vandals are 1-7 in the event all-time and 0-5 under Don Verlin. But Idaho's postseason struggles go back even further: Since 1997, the program is 2-14 in conference tournaments as members of the WAC and Big West. That's right — 1-7 in the WAC, 1-7 in the Big West.

The Vandals will try to break through this afternoon against UMKC when the quarterfinals of the WAC tourney get under way in Las Vegas. The topic of our preview for this morning's paper was Idaho's suddenly aggressive transition game. We've posted a longer version of the story below, as well as a few quotes from coaches and players.

Postseason beckons for UI men, women

The WAC men's and women's basketball tournaments will again be held at one site — Orleans Arena in Las Vegas — over the next four days. The top-seeded Idaho women (22-8) get things started Wednesday at noon with a quarterfinal matchup with Chicago State. The Vandals are looking to get back to the NCAA tournament for the second straight year, but the situation is different this time. We wrote about this in our preview.

The Idaho men take on UMKC on Thursday at 2:30 p.m. The Vandals are just 1-7 in the WAC tournament since joining the conference in 2005-06, and Don Verlin is 0-5. We'll have more on this tomorrow. Idaho star Stephen Madison was named to the US Basketball Writers Assocaition's All-District VIII team on Tuesday, two days after being named a first-team all-WAC player. Meanwhile, guard Connor Hill was selected as the WAC player of the week on Monday — the seventh such honor for a Vandal this year.

Madison misses out on WAC’s top award

In the end, the Western Athletic Conference's nine coaches went with the best player on the one of the league's two best teams instead of the league's leading scorer. New Mexico State's Daniel Mullings was named WAC Player of the Year on Sunday afternoon, beating out Idaho's Stephen Madison.

Madison led the WAC in scoring, averaging 19.9 points per game in his senior campaign for the 14-17 Vandals. He was a first-team All-WAC selection along with Mullings, Utah Valley's Holton Hunsaker and Ben Aird and Grand Canyon University's Killian Larson. No other Idaho players were honored in the postseason awards.

Utah Valley won the league, just ahead of NMSU. Idaho, which finished tied for fifth, will square off Thursday with University of Missouri-Kansas City — the team they beat 87-80 on Sat — in the first round of the WAC tournament. Tipoff is set for 2:30 p.m.

Last year, Idaho's Kyle Barone nabbed the WAC's Player of the Year award despite the Vandals going 12-17 in the regular season.

Idaho completes road sweep at UMKC

The Idaho basketball team entered the week with three road wins all year. In the span of three days, it pocketed two victories away from Moscow — and the latest was arguably the Vandals' most impressive road victory of the season.

Idaho thundered back from a late 10-point deficit to dispatch the University of Missouri-Kansas City, 87-80, in Kansas City. Senior Stephen Madison poured in 26 points and Connor Hill had 24 for the rejuvenated Vandals (14-17, 7-9), who finished the regular season by snatching their fourth win in five games.

“We’re playing our best basketball,” sixth-year coach Don Verlin said. “If this team will make a bigger commitment to defense and rebounding, we’ll have a chance to win the WAC tournament.”

The fifth-seeded Vandals will play fourth-seeded UMKC again in the quarterfinals on Thursday at 2:30 p.m. in Las Vegas. Idaho is still searching for its first WAC tourney win with Verlin at the helm. Its only victory at the WAC tournament came in a play-in game in 2007.

Click below for more.

WAC tourney seeding scenarios for Idaho

After last night's 79-76 win over Chicago State, Idaho is still in play for the No. 4 seed in next week's WAC tournament. But it could also drop down as low as the seventh seed depending on what happens tomorrow. The full scenarios are below. The Vandals (13-17, 6-9) close the regular season at Missouri-Kansas City. Tipoff is 7:35 p.m. PST.

Possible seeds for Idaho:

4      If Idaho beats UMKC and Seattle U beats Chicago State
 
5      If Idaho beats UMKC and Chicago State beats Seattle U OR
        If Idaho loses to UMKC, Chicago State beats Seattle U and UTPA beats Grand Canyon OR
        If Idaho loses to UMKC, Utah Valley beats Bakersfield, Chicago State beats Seattle U and Grand Canyon beats UTPA
 
6      If Idaho loses to UMKC, Utah Valley beats Bakersfield and Seattle U beats Chicago State OR
        If Idaho loses to UMKC, Bakersfield beats Utah Valley, Chicago State beats Seattle U and Grand Canyon beats UTPA
 
7      If Idaho loses to UMKC, Bakersfield beats Utah Valley and Seattle U beats Chicago State
  

Vandals fend off Chicago State for rare road win

It looked like Idaho might absorb another excruciating loss after going up big on Chicago State. This time, though, it was the Vandals who made the winning plays in the closing seconds — on the road, no less.

Connor Hill carried Idaho in the first half and buried the game-clinching free throws with 6 seconds left in the Vandals' 79-76 win at Chicago State on Thursday night. UI nearly let a 17-point lead disappear, but the Cougars missed four straight foul shots and threw the ball away with 11 seconds left to help Idaho escape.

More below.

Examining the Idaho Vandals’ road woes

The Idaho men's basketball team finishes the regular season with two games against beatable opponents — Chicago State and MIssouri-Kansas City. The problem for the Vandals? Both games are on the road.

It's almost been two full months since the Vandals last won away from Moscow, and they've won a total of three road games all season. After the jump, we take a look at what's gone wrong for Idaho (12-17, 5-9) on the road ahead of tonight's game at Chicago State and overall the last two seasons under Don Verlin. Read on.

Umipig, Seattle U streak past Idaho

For much of Saturday night, Seattle U's Isiah Umipig was magnificent and Idaho's Stephen Madison was in foul trouble.

The duel between the WAC's top two scorers never really materialized in the Vandals' 76-68 loss to Seattle U at Key Arena. Madison finished with a quiet 18 points in 21 minutes after sitting for long stretches of both halves. That was half of the scoring total for Umipig, who drained eight 3-pointers and set a career high with 36 points.

Umipig had 23 points in the second half, when the Vandals (12-17, 5-9) struggled to get stops and looked disjointed on offense with Madison out of sync and Connor Hill quiet after playing superbly earlier in the game. Hill finished with 18 points but didn't score after his 3-pointer put Idaho up 48-45 with 15:29 left. Two possessions later, Seattle U took the lead and never trailed again.

More below.

Idaho starts season-finishing stretch

Don Verlin and the Vandals close out the regular season with three road games. The first is tonight at Seattle U, and it's a big one for Idaho. The Vandals are 12-16 and 5-8 in the WAC and have a chance to grab the third seed in the conference tournament. But they lost by one point to the Redhawks (12-14, 4-9) in Moscow on Feb. 1.

Read on.

Idaho releases road-heavy 2014 slate

The Idaho football team will open the 2014 football season at Florida — after its second-to-last game of 2013 was at Florida State — and play five of its first seven on the road. The Vandals announced their full slate for 2014, their first in the Sun Belt Conference since leaving the SBC to join the WAC prior to the 2005 season.

The Vandals have five home games, starting with Western Michigan (which went 1-11 in 2013, the same record as Idaho) on Sept. 13. Their other games in the Kibbie Dome are against South Alabama (Sept. 27), New Mexico State (Oct. 18), Arkansas State (Nov. 1) and Troy (Nov. 15).

“You have to win at home,” UI coach Paul Petrino said in a release. “It will important for us to make (the Kibbie Dome) a tough place to play. We need to win our home games.”

Idaho starts spring practice on March 28. We have more below.

Madison nets fifth weekly WAC award

Fresh off a 34-point performance in the final home game of his year, Idaho senior Stephen Madison was named WAC Player of the Week for a record fifth time this season on Monday. No other WAC player has won the award that many times during a season, according to the Idaho media relations department. Madison leads the WAC in scoring (19.8 ppg) and is fourth all-time in scoring at Idaho. With 1,495 points, Madison needs 91 more to become UI's second-leading career scorer. The Vandals (12-16, 5-8 WAC) have three road games left before the WAC tournament.

Madison, UI seniors get special sendoff

After Idaho gritted out an 83-77 win over Grand Canyon, it felt like a festive family reunion on the Memorial Gym court. Glen Dean's cousins shot hoops with a few of the Vandals. Stephen Madison took photos with his baby, girlfriend, sisters and parents. Dean and Madison had just played for the final time on their homecourt, and they wanted to soak it in.

You can read an early version of my story on Idaho's fourth straight win to close out its home schedule below.

Senior Day for Madison, Vandals

The last home game of the season at Idaho is usually Senior Night. Tomorrow, because of the Lionel Hampton Jazz Fest, it's Senior Day. The Vandals (11-16) will play host to Grand Canyon at 1 p.m. at Memorial Gym. And they'll bid farewell to one of the most accomplished seniors in recent program history. Read on.

Hill, Vandals erupt in win over Northridge

Connor Hill felt comfortable on Tuesday night, and why not? He was shooting at Memorial Gym, where the Vandals are unbeaten this season (albeit in just three games). Hill sank 8 3-pointers and finished with 28 points in Idaho's 96-88 victory over Cal State Northridge. The win over an old Big West Conference foe moved the Vandals to 11-16 with one home game left in the regular season (Saturday at 1 p.m. vs. Grand Canyon).

We've got our usual recap below.

Idaho’s Madison scores 42 in loss

Stephen Madison will go down as one of the best scorers in Idaho history. And Saturday night might very well go down as his masterpiece. Unfortunately for UI, it came in game with an all-too-familiar outcome — a one-point loss.

Madison, a 6-foot-6 senior from Portland, dropped in 42 points — the most for a Vandal since Orlando Lightfoot in 1993 — in a 89-88 setback at Utah Valley. The Vandals fell to 10-16 and 4-8 in the WAC despite Madison's career-best performance.

Before Saturday, Madison had made a strong case that he was the best player in the WAC. But his most convincing argument yet came against the WAC's leading team. He went 16 of 21 from the field, 8 of 11 from the free-throw line and missed just one shot from inside the arc.

Madison tied Steve Weist for the third-most points in a single game at Idaho, and he passed Kyle Barone for fourth all-time in scoring at UI with 1,440 points. The only Vandals in front of him are Lightfoot (2,102), Brian Kellerman (1,585) and Kenny Luckett (1,571).

We have more on Madison and Idaho below.

Defense lets Idaho down in second half

The Idaho Vandals had the lead, and a chance for their third straight win, in the second half at Cal State Bakersfield. But like has happened so many times this season, the Vandals fell flat down the stretch in a 76-67 loss to the Roadrunners. Idaho gave up 48 points in the second half against a team it beat by three points last month in Moscow to drop to 10-15 overall, 4-7 in the WAC. CSUB shot 60 percent after the break.

Stephen Madison led UI with 18 points, Connor Hill contributed 12 and Sekou Wiggs had 10 off the bench. But none of the Vandals' top offensive threats shot particularly well — Madison was 7 of 15 from the field, Wiggs went 3 of 10 and Glen Dean was 2 of 8.

Idaho plays at Utah Valley on Saturday at 6 p.m. Pacific. UVU got thumped tonight by Seattle U, 71-57.

More below.

Madison, Vandals nudge UTPA in OT

Idaho finally got it going at Cowan Spectrum — just in time to say goodbye for the year to its primary home venue. After upsetting New Mexico State on Thursday, the Vandals gutted out a 70-63 overtime win over Texas-Pan American to collect back-to-back WAC wins for the first time this year.

Idaho is now 10-14 and 4-6 in the conference, which puts them in sixth place and a half-game behind Missouri-Kansas City. The Vandals finish the regular season with five of seven on the road, and their final two at home will be at Memorial Gym with the Lionel Hampton Jazz Fest in the Kibbie Dome.

The last crowd at the Spectrum was one of the best of the year — an announced 1,717. Our unedited game story is below.

Vandals upset New Mexico State, 73-67

It was hard to imagine before tonight. Idaho had lost eight of its last 10 games. New Mexico State had giant center Sim Bhullar back healthy and had just creamed league-leading Utah Valley. But the Vandals frustrated NMSU just enough and were clearly the more hungry team in pulling off a 73-67 upset of the Aggies at Cowan Spectrum.

Our story on the game is below.

Vandals go heavy on JC recruits, speed

Paul Petrino announced his second recruiting class at Idaho, one that's heavy on junior-college transfers and speedy players at almost every position. Idaho signed 17 players today and 27 in all, including three grayshirts. The biggest signing came at the end of the day, when highly regarded defensive tackle Alfonso Hampton sent in his letter of intent.

We talked to Hampton's JC coach as part of our story, which you can read below.

Vandals find a way to lose again

After another puzzling loss, this one a 68-67 defeat at home to Seattle U, Idaho coach Don Verlin was asked if his team had played its worst basketball of the year during an eight-minute stretch when the Vandals went from leading by 16 to trailing by five. “I don’t know if ‘worst’ is the way to describe it,” he said. “Lack of discipline, lack of fundamentals, lack of execution. So I guess if that’s worst, yeah it is.”

That pretty much sums up the Vandals' 14th loss of the season, and their sixth loss in seven games at Cowan Spectrum. The Vandals fell apart — not once but twice.

Our recap of the game is below, and we also have a note on part of the bleachers at the Spectrum collapsing before the game.