Two things have remained constant for Idaho men’s basketball since Don Verlin took the helm of the program in 2008.
Verlin blessing Moscow with his should-be trademarked thin mustache is one of them. The other? A revolving door at point guard that has never produced a starter lasting more two seasons.
And so it is in 2015 that Idaho will, once again, need to find a new player to dub himself the floor general worthy of leading the Vandals into their second season of Big Sky Conference is.
Gone from Idaho is Mike Scott, a second-team All-Big Sky selection last season, who scored 14 points per game and dished out 5.3 assists per game. Scott solidified the job heading into last season, leading the Vandals to a 13-17 record (8-10 Big Sky) and a berth into the conference tournament.
Scott took over for Glen Dean, who followed Mike McChristian, who followed Landon Tatum, who followed Deremy Geiger and Mac Hopson.
Now, four players will have the honor of competing for the right to be Scott’s successor.
Chris Sarbaugh, a University of San Diego transfer via Gonzaga, and a Spokane native, is a graduate transfer on the Idaho squad who dished out eight assists in Idaho’s exhibition opener against Saint Martin’s.
Pat Ingram, a Trinity Valley Junior College transfer via Iowa, is Idaho’s newest JC addition at the position.
Myles Franklin, a true freshman, will likely avoid redshirting and be in the mix.
The fourth player in the mix is a familiar face to Vandals fans: third-year junior Perrion Callandret.
Coach Don Verlin confidently told the gathered media at his preseason news conference what he had told Callandret:
“I’ve challenged Perrion to be the best guard in the league, I think he has that ability and he’s got to be a marquee player in this league for us to be successful at the level we want to be,” Verlin said. “I like what’s Perrion has done so far in fall workouts and really happy he’s back.”
Callandret joined Idaho two seasons ago out of Bothell (Washington) High School after transferring to the suburban Seattle school from O’Dea in Seattle. He quickly cracked Idaho’s starting lineup in exhibition play as a freshman before quietly falling off to a 12.5-minute-per-game output that saw him score barely over 2 points per game.
He’s a freakish athlete known for his high-flying dunks in high school, and even has a couple of them under his belt at Idaho. He dished out 49 assists last season and shot 43 percent from beyond the arc last season, perhaps a preview what he can bring to the point guard battle this season.
His combo guard experience means he can also help offset Idaho losing its three leading scorers. Along with Scott, the Vandals bid farewell to all-time leading 3-point shooter Connor Hill to graduation as well as second-leading scorer Sekou Wiggs, a sophomore who transferred to Division II Alaska-Anchorage.
The three combined for 41.9 points per game.
Russian sophomore Arkadiy Mkrtychyan should take the torch as Idaho’s leading scorer. The power forward scored 8.8 points per game in only about 21 minutes of work per game while he battled foul issues. Sophomore Victor Sanders and redshirt freshman Jake Straughan will take over as Idaho’s 3-point shooters. Forwards Nahshon George and Jordan Scott will help supplement the scoring from the wing.
Verlin hopes his scoring formula will involve a number of players on any given night.
“I think it’s a good thing, I think it makes us harder to guard when we have four or five weapons instead of teams keying on one or two,” Verlin said. “It makes you a lot more difficult to guard.”
The Vandals open their season Nov. 14 at San Jose State and open at home Nov. 21 against Linfield. Idaho will be doing so with a staff that will include two interim assistants.
Joe Ford jumped to Idaho from Pacific but resigned in October pending an investigation into his conduct while at Pacific. Zac Claus was hired on as Director of Basketball Operations and was promoted to Director of Player Development when Ford stepped down. Tim Marrion was brought on as Director of Basketball Operations.
Verlin said Idaho will address the coaching staff at the end of the season.
“We’re going to cross that bridge at the end of the season when the season gets over and then we’re going to have a chance to look into which direction we want to go as far as our full-time coaching positions,” Verlin said.
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