There are sure to be strange feelings on both sides.
Don Verlin, the longtime protege of Utah State coach Stew Morrill, said it was awkward to square off with his old boss five weeks ago.
Now the second matchup of the season between USU and Idaho is set for tonight at Cowan Spectrum, and Morrill insists it won’t be any more enjoyable.
“Never fun to play friends and worse to play family,” Morrill said this week. “And he’s family. When a guy is with you 15 years, he’s like family. So I never look forward to those kinds of games.”
There are other reasons Verlin is dreading the Western Athletic Conference game with the 21st-ranked Aggies (23-1, 11-0). Utah State has coasted to 18 straight wins and brings the nation’s top field-goal shooting percentage (.506) to Moscow.
A win tonight would give USU at least a share of the WAC title.
“It will take our best effort in every phase of the game to have a chance to win,” Verlin said.
The Vandals (10-12, 4-5) have lost twice in a row after toppling Boise State at home and having a chance to nab second place in the WAC against Nevada.
Yet even after a 71-49 drubbing at Hawaii, its worst loss in conference play, Idaho is just 11/2 games out of second place. The team’s drastic improvement hasn’t surprised Morrill, who said he was the only WAC coach in the preseason to not have UI pegged for last place.
“He’s doing a great job,” Morrill said of Verlin, his former top assistant. “They are a very competitive team every night out. And they are, like a lot of us, good at home.”
Cougs hurt by 3-pointers
Since late in the Arizona game, when the Wildcats got hot from the outside, Washington State has allowed the opposition to hit 20 of 28 3-pointers. The 71.4 percent streak has dropped WSU’s shooting percentage defense from beyond the arc to 36 percent, ninth in the Pac-10. Only tonight’s opponent, Oregon (39.3), is worse.
Teams are shooting 38.4 percent overall against the Cougars, still first in the conference but 17th in the nation. WSU was third nationally in that category in late January.
Davis leaves Binghamton
Former Gonzaga University player Theo Davis has left the Binghamton University men’s team, the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin reported Wednesday.
“He just doesn’t want to play anymore,” BU coach Kevin Broadus said. “It is what it is.”
Broadus said Davis is still on campus and is in good academic standing, and that this was not a disciplinary move.
Davis played in six games for BU this season, scoring four points and grabbing 11 rebounds in limited minutes.
The 6-foot-9, 235-pound forward from Brampton, Ontario, transferred to Binghamton last February to be closer to his father, who suffered a stroke. He played at Gonzaga as a freshman, but sat out the beginning of his sophomore year with an infection of his foot before leaving school.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Follow along with the Zags
Subscribe to our Gonzaga Basketball newsletter to stay up with the latest news.