MOSCOW, Idaho – Idaho women’s basketball coach Jon Newlee has said it for years, and he said it again this week. The regular-season champion of each conference should be rewarded with an automatic NCAA tournament bid, and if a different team wins the league tournament, it should get in, too. As it is, only the winner of each conference’s postseason tourney is automatically slotted into the 64-team event – a setup that Newlee called “ridiculous.”
Idaho women’s basketball coach Jon Newlee has said it for years, and he said it again this week. The regular-season champion of each conference should be rewarded with an automatic NCAA tournament bid, and if a different team wins the league tournament, it should get in, too.
MOSCOW, Idaho – With 13 seconds left, Stephen Madison rose above the best rebounder in the WAC, stretched his arm as high as he could and came down with the biggest rebound of the game – a ferocious one-handed board. Then, after icing Idaho’s 83-77 victory over Grand Canyon with two free throws, a smiling Madison walked to the bench at Memorial Gym to a standing ovation from the crowd of 1,080.
MOSCOW, Idaho – Nearly every time Idaho went up for a free throw on Tuesday night, a zealous Cal State Northridge fan (yes, a few were at Memorial Gym) unleashed a high-pitched scream. At first, the shrieks were unnerving to the Vandals at the line and even to coach Don Verlin, it seemed. But by the time Joe Vandal, Idaho’s mascot, went over to stand in front of the Matadors fan, UI was on its way to its most complete offensive game of the season.
MOSCOW, Idaho – After the final game of his career at Cowan Spectrum, a satisfying 70-63 win over Texas-Pan American in overtime, Stephen Madison was asked for his favorite memories of playing on Idaho’s homecourt. “Oh, there’s a lot,” he said.
MOSCOW, Idaho – Of the 1,105 fans at Cowan Spectrum on Thursday night, more than a few chuckled when Sim Bhullar – New Mexico State’s 7-foot-5, 355-pound center – moseyed out of the paint early in the game to guard 5-10 Glen Dean. Idaho coach Don Verlin probably didn’t see that matchup coming, but he did have one thing pegged: The Vandals could take advantage of Bhullar’s presence on the court by going small.
MOSCOW, Idaho – Thirty minutes after another excruciating loss, this one that ended on his turnover, Stephen Madison looked beaten down. His senior year at Idaho has been three months of close calls and lost chances, and on this night the Vandals had dropped a one-point decision for the third time at home. On his way out of the Kibbie Dome, though, Madison held on tightly to a reminder of why in some ways it’s been the best (and most memorable) season of his career.
MOSCOW, Idaho – The Idaho football program has a conference home after a year of FBS exile. It has a coaching staff that’s in its second year together. And because of those things, it has momentum in recruiting. The best indicator of the Vandals’ progress on the recruiting trail came late on Wednesday, when highly regarded defensive tackle Alfonso Hampton of Southwestern College (Calif.) signed his letter of intent.
MOSCOW, Idaho – It was a basic 2-on-1 fast break with Idaho firmly in control, and guard Sekou Wiggs had two options: He could go hard to the basket himself or try to lob it to teammate Joe Kammerer, a 6-foot-9 center not known for his soft hands. Wiggs went with option B, which clearly wasn’t the choice Vandals coach Don Verlin would have made.
MOSCOW, Idaho – The Idaho Vandals made their free throws in the final seconds, and they won. It sounds simplistic, and it is. But after being haunted for the past month at the foul line, the Vandals earned a 64-61 victory over California State University Bakersfield on Saturday night with a 6-for-6 closing stretch from the line.
MOSCOW, Idaho – Stephen Madison flew into the Idaho bench to chase down a loose ball, Mike Scott knifed into the lane for two crafty buckets and, finally, the Vandals’ holiday fog started to lift. They had trailed almost all of Saturday night against Chicago State, another Western Athletic Conference newbie making its conference debut. But Scott’s offense and a refreshed defensive energy helped the Vandals draw even in the final minute.
MOSCOW, Idaho – The late-game misadventures, from the free-throw line and elsewhere, are mounting for the Idaho men’s basketball team. And they’re starting to overshadow some weighty individual achievements. The Vandals failed to sustain two five-point leads late in the second half in an 80-74 defeat to Missouri-Kansas City on Thursday night in their final Western Athletic Conference opener before moving to the Big Sky next season.
MOSCOW, Idaho – Searching for words after another dumbfounding home loss to Montana, Idaho coach Don Verlin at different times tossed his hands up in the air, laughed and rubbed his eyes for long stretches. He was just as stunned as the 1,427 that witnessed Montana’s 72-71 victory on Saturday at Cowan Spectrum. And just as appalled by the Vandals’ free-throw shooting.
MOSCOW, Idaho – After a successful freshman year as Idaho’s punter and kicker, Austin Rehkow could soon join the Vandals’ basketball team. Rehkow, who leads the FBS in punting average and set the Idaho single-season punting mark, will participate in basketball practices for the next week to 10 days and then decide with coach Don Verlin if he’ll stick with the club as a walk-on.
MOSCOW, Idaho – Today isn’t the first time Idaho has served as a schedule-filler for one of college football’s glamour programs. The Vandals collected huge sums of cash after playing at USC, Nebraska and Louisiana State, and they’re in line for even more lucrative payouts the next two seasons. But this afternoon’s game has a different feel. Idaho tangles with No. 2 Florida State (12:30 p.m., ESPNU), which has steamrolled its first 10 opponents by an average of 41.6 points.
PULLMAN – It dominated for long stretches, outshot Illinois nearly 3-to-1, had the would-be winning goal wiped away by offsides – and still, the Washington State women's soccer team lost on Saturday. The defeat would have been painful regardless of the circumstances. But this one came on penalty kicks in the first round of the NCAA tournament – a repeat of last season's season-ending loss – which made it all the more heartbreaking for the 21st-ranked Cougars.
MOSCOW, Idaho – For a good part of Saturday night, it was hard to tell if Idaho was playing poorly or if Northwest Nazarene – an NCAA Division II school from Nampa, Idaho – was playing way over its head. Either way, Vandals coach Don Verlin looked perturbed on the sideline. And his frustration carried over to his postgame message to Idaho players after a 78-64 victory in front of 1,148 at Memorial Gym.
MOSCOW, Idaho – When Idaho’s Connor Hill came off a hard screen from Joe Kammerer and contorted his body to get set for the biggest shot of the game, Western Illinois coach Jim Molinari noticed something. “He literally wasn’t even looking at the hoop when he started to jump,” Molinari said.
MOSCOW, Idaho – Dropped passes and blown coverages. Those two things don’t fully explain Idaho’s 59-38 football loss to Old Dominion on Saturday, but they were the dominant story lines on Senior Day in front of perhaps 9,000 at the Kibbie Dome.
1 Sustain intensity. Verlin has seen his young team play at a high level at practice and scrimmages, but only for brief stretches. Part of the issue, he said, is fighting through fatigue. “That’s part of youth,” the sixth-year coach said. It’s also to be expected with so many new faces. Still, maintaining intensity throughout the season is Verlin’s top key for the season – and it’s perhaps his top concern, too. 2 Rebounding. The WAC’s top rebounder last year, Kyle Barone, is no longer at Idaho. In his place is a group of unproven post players. The Vandals have talented guards, but will they be able to rebound against bigger teams? Verlin sees promise in Paulin Mpawe, a 6-foot-10 junior-college transfer, and wing Stephen Madison, who averaged 4.8 rebounds per game last season.
MOSCOW, Idaho – They grew up in the same house in Seattle, half-brothers with a mother who held jobs that often bled into the evening or night. T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, the open-at-all-hours QFC grocery store – these were Judi Sinclair’s places of work at different times, and her sons knew what she required of them when she worked late. Glen Dean had to watch over Perrion Callandret, his younger brother by six years, after school. Callandret had to listen to his big brother, who at times seemed more like a father to him. And together they made a pledge to not let their mom down.
MOSCOW, Idaho – It was one of the most remarkable and bizarre touchdowns Idaho has scored in years. Unfortunately for the Vandals, it was also one of the only completions down the field for quarterback Taylor Davis on Saturday. Other than a wild deflected touchdown midway through the first quarter and another promising performance from running back James Baker, Idaho went quietly in a 37-21 loss to future Sun Belt foe Texas State.