MOSCOW, Idaho – Their friendship took form, almost instantly, in 2007. Brandon Brown was a new member of the University of Idaho men’s basketball team. Will Blackburn was living in Moscow and happened to grow up with one of Brown’s junior-college teammates.
MOSCOW, Idaho – Two loose balls, two heady saves under the basket. At any other time in the game, Luiz Toledo’s hustle scarcely would have been noticed. But his extra effort in Wednesday night’s waning moments gave Idaho two extra scoring chances – and just enough to fend off Nevada.
MOSCOW, Idaho – If the final hours of 2010 are any indication, the first few months of the new year hold promise for the University of Idaho men’s basketball team – much more, at least, than most expected in October. The Vandals, two days after a last-second loss, smothered Louisiana Tech 77-47 on Friday night with a quiet New Year’s Eve crowd of 511 watching at Cowan Spectrum.
MOSCOW, Idaho – Left to digest another last-minute loss, the Idaho men’s basketball team could point to defensive letdowns or missed rebounds – among other things – as reasons why Wednesday night’s game didn’t swing in its favor. But just like two weeks ago against Montana, the Vandals had a chance to tie New Mexico Sate with less than 10 seconds remaining. And just like in the loss to the Grizzlies, they didn’t get the shot they wanted when it mattered most.
MOSCOW, Idaho – The Idaho Vandals could use more time before the Western Athletic Conference men’s basketball season opens this week. That much is certain, and it’s not just because coach Don Verlin’s overhauled roster is so inexperienced. The Vandals usually kick off WAC play after Jan. 1, when students at least are thinking of returning to campus. But Wednesday night, in the middle of holiday break, they’ll host New Mexico State at Cowan Spectrum – followed by a game with Louisiana Tech on Friday night.
MOSCOW, Idaho – Idaho coach Don Verlin left Montana three weeks ago after a 42-point drubbing from the Grizzlies and made a simple, candid declaration.
The Vandals didn’t compete, he said.
That wasn’t the case Saturday night in a nonconference rematch with the Griz. But a much more respectable performance – easily the Vandals’ finest this year – didn’t make another loss any easier to digest.
PULLMAN – Eighty-one seconds were left in Saturday night’s Apple Cup when, on fourth-and-1, Washington tailback Chris Polk watched teammate Eric Folk begin to line up for the go-ahead field goal. Polk and his teammates’ reaction to the play call?
MOSCOW, Idaho – Nate Enderle settled in at the University of Idaho a semester before the rest of Dennis Erickson’s 2006 freshman class, and it didn’t take long for the even-keeled Nebraskan to set himself apart at quarterback. Enderle started the 2007 season opener – as a redshirt freshman – at the Coliseum against No. 1 USC. Since that illuminating experience, he’s played in 43 more games and attempted the most passes in program history.
MOSCOW, Idaho – Fresno State, after consecutive losses, is trying to avoid a late-season meltdown. Idaho is eyeing back-to-back wins to all but assure the first back-to-back bowl trips in program history. On both sides of tonight’s Western Athletic Conference clash, the implications are clear. But when it comes to determining which team needs a win more, Robb Akey – in full playoff mode – said the answer is obvious.
MOSCOW, Idaho – When the Idaho football team conjured up a breakthrough last year after a decade of losing, the Vandals had the luxury of banking on a solid-as-granite offensive line. The same five players started every game, and four of them were seniors. From the start, no one questioned the group’s durability or consistency.
Idaho offensive line coach Dan Finn knew this season would be much more taxing than 2009, and that’s been the case since the start of spring camp. Injuries, inexperience, miscommunication – the Vandals (5-6) have dealt with these issues and more while breaking in four new starters up front.
MOSCOW, Idaho – There were moments Saturday night when the many new faces on the Idaho men’s basketball team appeared to be meshing just how coach Don Verlin envisioned before the season. But those stretches were too brief and too rare to go blow-for-blow with the University of Portland, which scooted past the Vandals 66-53 at Memorial Gym.
MOSCOW, Idaho – In his four years as Idaho football coach, Robb Akey has made his stance clear many times – he doesn’t want a playoff in major college football, largely because he thinks it would zap the tradition and joy out of the bowl season. But Akey still sees the value in his team operating with a playoff-like urgency. That’s especially been the case since last week’s loss to Boise State nudged the 4-6 Vandals into must-win territory.
Idaho football coach Robb Akey sees the value in his team operating with a playoff-like urgency. That’s especially been the case since last week’s loss to Boise State nudged the 4-6 Vandals into must-win territory.
MOSCOW, Idaho – Aaron Lavarias was just beginning an interview with a reporter Tuesday when Idaho football coach Robb Akey walked past the Vandals’ most productive defender and offered the simplest of compliments. “Good work,” Akey told the fifth-year defensive end shortly after practice had ended.
PULLMAN – Forty minutes into the season, Washington State sophomore guard Marcus Capers can already sense the difference from a year ago. Klay Thompson doesn’t feel as much pressure to score. DeAngelo Casto has help in the paint. And Faisal Aden, a junior college transfer, seems poised to make a big splash.
MOSCOW, Idaho – They congregated around midfield, unwilling to budge. Boise State had yet to enter the field before kickoff, but Idaho players weren’t about to see a repeat of 2008, when their jumbo-sized logo was trounced on with a BSU sledgehammer. Mission accomplished on that front for the Vandals – after words were exchanged and a few skirmishes were averted.
Kellen Moore threw for a pair of touchdowns in the first half, Chris Potter returned a punt 76 yards for a score the first time Boise State touched the ball, and the No. 4 Broncos routed state rival Idaho 52-14 on Friday night.
MOSCOW, Idaho – Reporters from all over the state this week asked Idaho players and coaches variations of the same question: What’s it going to take to finally bring down one of the nation’s most consistent programs? For the Vandals, the answer begins with something that’s been painfully absent against elite competition all season.
MOSCOW, Idaho – A few days before the start of the 2010-11 season, Idaho men’s basketball coach Don Verlin is certain he has four roster spots to fill for next year. Three will be created by departing seniors, and another opened up when freshman guard Gary Winston left the team recently. Yet Verlin also has come expect at least some turnover – such as Winston’s exodus – on Idaho’s roster each year. That’s why he and his staff aren’t done recruiting after bringing in three players Wednesday to open the early letter-of-intent signing period.