Vandal Men 75, Eastern Michigan 60

Sunday night the Vandal men registered their fourth consecutive victory of the young season, beating Eastern Michigan by 15 in the final game of the Basketball Travelers Classic at Memorial Gym. Idaho went 3-0 in the tourney and improved to 5-3 on the season. Vandal guard, junior Deremy Geiger, was named Tourney MVP, while LUIZ TOLEDO, a junior forward, joined him on the All Tournament team.

The Basketball Travelers Classic at Memorial Gym was a well-balanced, hard fought four-team round-robin tournament. No games were decided by more than five points…that is, until in the final game of the weekend when the Idaho Vandals took on Eastern Michigan. As it turned out the EMU Eagles, arguably the most athletic team in the tourney, were simply no match for Idaho as the Vandals posted a 75-60 victory to finish 3-0 in the tournament, their fourth consecutive victory, to improve to 5-3 on the season.

Although his stat sheet was fairly quiet Sunday night, Vandal guard Deremy Geiger was named tournament MVP for the weekend and was joined by teammate Luiz Toledo on the All Tournament team (as voted by the media attending the three-day affair). Also named to the all-tourney team were Will Campbell and Mike Myers Kelt of Monmouth (2-1), Patrick Mitchell of North Dakota (1-2) and Brandon Bowdry of Eastern Michigan (0-3).

Asked to comment on his all-tournament players, Idaho coach Don Verln said, "Luiz Toledo is just rock solid. He plays good defense inside. He's a good rebounder. He scores his ball. We rely on him a lot. Most importantly he's a great person. Deremy Geiger is playing up to my expectations. I have very high expectations for him. I thought he played a great tournament. I don't know what his numbers were tonight, but the first two nights he put up some pretty good scoring numbers."

At the start of Sunday's game the Vandals might have appeared to be at a disadvantage against the very athletic Eagles, but by playing within the guidelines established by their coaching staff the Vandals were able to weather several challenges by the Eagles to steadily pull away, leading by as many as 17 points in the second half.

A very positive factor for the Vandals was they accomplished this dominating win by playing 10 men, nine of whom had 10 or minutes of floor time. The Vandals showed discipline, a good shooting touch, and outstanding defensive instincts throughout the game which, other than several vocal UI students, was witnessed by only 417 fans.

"We played very well tonight," Verlin said in his post-game comments. "When you shoot over 50%, out rebound them by 10 and have an assist-to-turnover ratio of 20-9 you've got to be really happy with the way your basketball team played. I thought we played as well tonight as we have any night in this tournament.

"We made some shots, made some good offensive plays, and we got some stops at the defensive end," he added. "We played well. You can't take anything away from that. I thought we executed our offense very well. I thought we shot the ball very well. It was just a good team effort. I can't think of a guy who didn't play up to his potential."

The Vandals again started their "small" lineup, but throughout the contest every substitution Idaho made seemed to pay off with problems for the Eagles. Verlin said his primary goal was to control the tempo of the game against the high-octane EMU transition game, and in doing so the Vandals were able to cash in on Eagle mistakes for baskets to maintain a comfortable lead throughout the contest.

Again the Vandal bench was a major factor in the contest. "Djim Bandoumel played very well tonight," Verlin said. "He came off, gave us a spark off the bench. Luiz Toledo and Brandon Wiley both had two (fouls) and he (Bandoumel) came in and did his job tonight. I was very happy with the way he played. I thought our defense threw 'em off a little bit in the first half…we got 'em to turn it over a little bit. They shot too high a percentage in the first half, but we got 'em to turn it over nine times. I thought that was the difference to their lead in the first half."

Asked if he had tried to control the pace of the contest, Verlin said. "Absolutely. The number one key to the game was transition defense. I thought our point guards did a great job slowing 'em down at half court. We protected the basketball. I don't know if we gave them a basket in transition tonight, and that goes a long ways. Not just this game but any game. You have to start with your transition defense."

Nine of the ten players the Vandals used against EMU logged at least 11 minutes of playing time and got onto the stat sheets in a positive way - points, rebounds, assists, steals, or blocked shots.

Sophomore post Kyle Barone did not start the game, but by the final horn he had a career high 18 points (6 of 10 from the floor, 5-of-6 from the line), 7 rebounds, an assist and a steal. Senior Jeff Ledbetter checked out with 12 points, 2 assists, 2 rebounds and a steal. Senior Shawn Henderson wound up with 11 points, 5 assists, and 7 rebounds. Geiger, a junior, netted only 6 points but chalked up 3 assists in addition to leading the Vandals at both ends of the floor.

Senior Brandon Wiley had 8 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocked shots. Toledo (a junior) also collected 8 points in addition to 2 rebounds and a steal. Junior Djim Bandoumel came off the bench for 13 quality minutes with 5 points, 2 points and a blocked shot. Junior Landom Tatum checked out with 4 points, 4 assists, 2 rebounds and a steal. True freshman Stephen Madison fit right into the team-first Vandal pattern with 3 points, 3 assists, 3 rebounds, and a steal. Redshirt freshman Joe Kammerer collected a rebound for Idaho.

As a team Idaho shot 50% from the field and 64% from the line. The Vandals held a 32-22 edge in rebounds, posted an eye-popping 20 assists to just 9 turnovers (EMU had 11 and 13 in the same categories), blocked 3 shots, and chalked up 5 steals.

The Vandals will be off this week to take care of business with finals and end-of-semester projects as the U of I closes out the first semester. Saturday (December 11) Idaho's men's and women's basketball teams head west to take on Seattle University in a non-conference double header. The following Saturday (Dec. 18) the Montana men come to the Cowan Spectrum for the second meeting between the two teams.

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