Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Partly Cloudy Day 42° Partly Cloudy
Sports >  NCAA basketball

College basketball 2022-23: After rare struggles a year ago, Idaho looks to bounce back with better depth

Nov. 3, 2022 Updated Thu., Nov. 3, 2022 at 2:35 p.m.

By Jim Allen For The Spokesman-Review

The Idaho women expect to have a little more gas in the tank this season – good thing, because there’s a long road ahead.

The Vandals will hit all the compass points in an 11-game nonconference schedule, including tournaments in Maryland and California, a couple of games at Pac-12 venues and two more in the Southwest.

The Vandals have just one home game prior to Big Sky Conference play, Dec. 15 against Denver.

“I say let’s go,” coach Jon Newlee said. “We’re off on the Harlem Globetrotters tour and we’re going to see the country. And that schedule is going to get us ready for the Big Sky.”

Usually a contender, the Vandals slipped last year to 11-9 in the conference and 14-18 overall, partly because of depth issues. Starters Beyonce Bea, Tiana Johnson and Sydney Gandy each logged more than 30 minutes per game.

“But I think we have a lot more depth than we’ve had in a while,” said Newlee, who has taken four teams to the NCAA Tournament in 14 seasons at Idaho.

However, success will depend partly on Bea, a 6-foot-1 senior guard-forward from Washougal, Washington. Last year she led the Vandals in every major category, averaging 15.3 points and 8.6 rebounds while playing almost 34 minutes per game.

That was enough to make Bea a unanimous pick on the All-Big Sky first team, but there’s always room for improvement.

Looking ahead to this year, Newlee hopes Bea will “really just be herself, to (take) better advantage of the opponents. She’s really selfless, and I think sometimes she’s passed up some shots. But she’s come back quicker and leaner, and really getting at it on the glass.”

Few players are more versatile than Johnson, a 6-2 grad student from Kalispel, Montana, who transferred a year ago from Big Sky rival Sacramento State. Last year, Johnson not only averaged six rebounds but shot a team-best 38% from long range.

Gandy, a 5-5 junior guard, averaged 11 points and dished out 111 assists while committing only 68 turnovers.

Inside, Newlee expects to get some help from Madison Rubino and Skyler Bea, Beyonce’s younger sister.

Freshmen Rosa Smith and Asha Phillips are expected to contribute on the perimeter.

“I think it’s going to be a fun season, and I personally haven’t seen this kind of energy for a while,” Newlee said.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

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.

Active Person

Subscribe to the sports newsletter

Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.