POST-GAME QUOTES: Idaho vs Utah State

Following the biggest win at the helm of the University of Idaho Vandal basketball program, head coach Don Verlin addressed the media following Idaho's 64-56 victory over Utah State. Joining coach V in the post-game media room was senior shooting guard Jeff Ledbetter and junior point guard Deremy Geiger.

Jeff Ledbetter:

Q: How about everybody wearing a shirt that says, "BeLIEVE?"

JL: "We did that for a reason. Tied two things together."

Q: Your threes weren't falling in the first half. What made you keep shooting them in the second half?

JL: "That's the coaches; just kept telling me if I'm open fire it. I mean, that's what I'm here for. I've got to jump up and shoot every shot like I just made the last five. That's what they kept telling me. I knew they'd start falling eventually. Not near as many fell as I wanted to, but my teammates did a great job of picking up some O-boards on those missed threes and picking up the slack in other areas."

Q: What happened there at the end of the first half?

JL: "As far as?"

Q: A little bit of an incident between…

JL: "Oh, yeah. We just got tangled up on the glass. There was nothing big, just tangled up and neither one of us really like getting tangled up like that. There were no hard feelings there."

Q: Didn't it seem like you guys have obviously let some leads get away. Finally after the final few seconds …

JL: "Yeah. We've been good this year at ignoring, forgetting the past. At one point someone said in the huddle, 'don't let this one slip away like we did against San Jose' and stuff, and I told 'em, 'Don't even mention that. That's the past. We're a different team now.' Like you said with these BeLIEVE shirts. We wore 'em for a reason. We believe that we can play with the best in the conference, and we proved that tonight. "

Q: Offensive rebounding, they really got a lot at the beginning of the game, but the second half like you said some of those long boards you guys were able to get and that seemed to be pretty key.

JL: "Yeah. That was huge. They killed us on the offensive glass in the first half. We were lucky to have a little lead going into halftime. I was on our guys at halftime hard about the bigs boxing out and the guards coming down to help. It had to be all five of us getting boards, and we did a great job responding to that. We were able to cut 'em down, because we knew if that kept up we weren't going to be able to beat these guys. They're too good for that."

Q: Obviously a big win for you guys. You don't have another home game now for almost a month. You get Boise State, Montana State, Nevada and Utah State again all on the road. Nice way to leave home, right?

JL: "Yeah. Yeah. It feels good. It feels great. We needed this one going into this road trip. Yeah, it feels great for everybody. Yeah, we got the momentum we needed going into this four-game road trip, and take care of business on the road."

Q: We asked this to Mac Hopson three years ago: What's it like playing a team that plays exactly the same way you guys do?

JL: "It's weird. It never happened before. I've never had that happen before, but I mean we each have our own little twists to plays and throw in new plays to try to throw 'em off; so I mean it's kinda in the sense that we know what's coming. We play against it every day. I think that's why we preach so much on it's all about who played harder. That's why we need to bring our energy because we both know each other's stuff. It was just a matter of who executed and who played harder."

Q: Talk a little bit about your defense – not just you, but the team today.

JL: "That was huge. I don't know what we held 'em to, but I don't they had that many points. That's huge. That's what we banked on all year long. That's what's kinda been slipping the last couple of games is our second half defense, and we were there tonight so that was big for us."

Q: Talk about knocking off a ranked team.

JL: "It's fun. We live to play this kind of game. That's what you grow up dreaming of, playing teams like that. It's huge for the program. It's fun to see the students get involved like that and great to get this win for Vandal Nation. They deserve it."

Deremy Geiger (transferred to Idaho from Utah State):

Q: You scored.

DG: "Man. I know. Off the schnied.

Q: You're smiling.

DG: "I don't think I've ever felt like this right now. Trying to hold in so much emotion. Me going to Utah State, playing there for a year and then them being ranked and such a good program and the record they have. For us to come in here and hold our home court down and the fans show us the amazing support, it's an unbelievable feeling right now. Indescribable."

Q: You're one of the smaller guys on the team. How did you get so many rebounds?

DG: "Being the smallest guy I usually am on the court all the time on any team. I just try to play fearless and just do all the little things. I just try to be a pest on defense and on the court. That's what I have to do to make up for my lack of size."

Q: Talking about those rebounds, you kinda struggled with your scoring. You picked up today, but you struggled a little bit. You talk about last game that you wanted to do some other things. That came out with assists last game. This time it comes out rebounds. That was a huge piece of this game. You guys really struggled in the first half. What did coach talk to you about that you guys adjusted and really picked it up on the defensive end?

DG: "Before the game he had a little motto that was just 'Believe.' Just go out there and play hard, believe. He also has a motto that I take: Just play hard on the court and the scoreboard will take care of itself, and that's what we try to do. Just left everything we had on the court for 40 minutes and came out with a victory."

Q: Did the box-and-one throw them off a little bit?

DG: "Yeah. That was in our game preparation to run a box-and-one and a lot of different defensive schemes, and I think that really threw 'em off. I think that we really caught 'em unexpected. They're a great team. They had great halftime adjustments to do something to try to counter us, but we still stuck with our game plan and that won us over."

Q: Last Saturday when you had 11 assists you told us that you knew you were not shooting real well and you came out to go for the assists. What was your goal going in tonight besides winning?

DG: "This game I didn't have a goal in mind like I did last game with assists. I just wanted to just do all the little things. Sometimes in games in a season your shot's gonna be off and not gonna fall, but you've still got to do the intangibles: Rebound, assist, do all the little things. That's all I try to do – just do the little things."

Q: Did you have this game circled on your calendar?

DG: (big smile) – "I mean, if I said I didn't have it circled I'd be lying. I'd be lying. Each game is important, but seeing that it was Utah State, being that I played there, have good friends on the team, still have great relationships with the coaching staff, it was just a big game for me, my team, coach Verlin himself coming from (Utah State). I think we just had a lot to prove tonight."

Q: You obviously weren't looking ahead.

DG: (laughing). "Nah, we weren't looking ahead. We knew we had this on our schedule. We've been having a lot of good practices this week, a good shoot around today, and it really just translated over to the game."

As DG is leaving: "I appreciate that you guys. Go Vandals!!

Don Verlin:

DV: "What a great win for our program, for our players. I couldn't be happier for them and for the University of Idaho. It's been a long time since we've beaten those guys, Spencer (Farrin of the Athletics Media Relations Office) told me it was 1982 since we beat a ranked team that high; so obviously we're very excited. I told our coaches before the game 'the first one to 60 wins,' and we got there before they did; so that's how we won tonight – got to 60 before they did."

Q: Tai Westley said this is the best Idaho team he's played against.

DV: "That's nice of him to say that. Tai is a wonderful young man. I was involved a lot in the recruiting of him. Our team has gotten better throughout the year and obviously played very, very well tonight. We missed very few assignments. I thought we got 'em out of their rhythm which we felt like we had to do. We threw a little surprise at 'em with the box-and-one and they didn't handle it very well. Everything just kind went our way. We were very fortunate. They missed some wide open shots, and in the first half they rebounded 'em and in the second half we rebounded 'em and that was kinda the difference in the game."

Q: What was the thinking behind the box-and-one?

DV: "Well, there were a number of different reasons why we did it, but first and foremost is Brian Green's such a great shooter. We felt like he was their third leading scorer coming into the game and we felt like we needed to take somebody away, and when he came in I obviously coached the system. I've been there, and I knew that they probably didn't have a box-and-one package prepared; so we decided to throw a little wrinkle at 'em and see what happens and it worked. You know, it wouldn't have looked as good if they'd made those open shots, and they missed some wide open shots. We got lucky tonight. That's what happened with that part of it."

Q: You've talked about the team's character the whole year. There wasn't one player who stood out today. How did that contribute to the win tonight?

DV: "All year I've told you guys I like this team. I like the way this team works. I like the way this team prepares. They've battled all year long. We've had a number of chances to quit this year. We had a chance to quit in Missoula, Montana early in the year. We had a chance to quit after San Jose, after they ripped heart out there in a game we should have won, but this team just keeps battling and that's the character of the guys in the locker room. It's kinda what I expect from 'em, and it's kinda what they expect of each other. I thought tonight we had a number of guys play very, very well. I thought Kyle Barone played his best game as a Vandal. You'd say, 'Well, coach, his numbers aren't…' But I thought he rebounded out of his area. I thought he came up with big rebounds. He had some big, huge offensive rebounds when we were struggling a little bit, and I thought Deremy Geiger rebounded the ball very well. It seemed like he'd come out of nowhere for the rebound, and that's what we needed to do. I don't know what the rebound differential was at half, but it only ended up four and they're plus eight on the boards; so we did a good job especially in the second half rebound our ball."

Q: You were down seven.

DV: "So we out rebounded 'em by 3 in the second half."

Q: Talk about your guys' abilities to get loose balls. Utah State is a team that typically makes lots of plays on rebounds much better than its opponents, and you guys were tough against them in those areas all night.

DV: "Yeah. I thought our guys played really hard. We've preached all week about winning plays. If you're gonna win a big game you've got to make winning plays, and that means getting the loose balls, taking some charges, making a key block, making an extra pass. One of the things we talked about all week is we've got to make some winning plays. I thought we took some charges. I thought we took some charges that weren't called tonight. I thought we did a very good job making the sacrifice, making the winning plays, and when it's a game like that if you're gonna beat somebody that good you've got to make some of those plays and we did that."

Q: You seemed to play very disciplined and under control at all times.

DV: "Yeah. You know what? We didn't lose our composure, and I think some of that was I didn't lose my composure. This team plays better when I don't lose my composure. I thought that our guys never got rattled once, it didn't feel like. You know there were times we could have gotten rattled and we didn't. That's just a credit to our guys and their character."

Q: Deremy Geiger has been struggling offensively; tonight he puts up 12 points and again he puts up numbers in a stat that he has not had to necessarily in the past with nine boards. How big was his performance tonight?

DV: "It was huge. He played very well. Those games are hard to play in. It was his birthday today. It was his old team. He still stays in touch with a lot of the guys on that team; so those games are hard to play. I talked to him all week about 'Don't try too hard. Just let the game come to you,' and I thought he did a good job of that. Deremy is a good shooter. He's a very good shooter. He's just in a little bit of a slump, and he'll break out of that here hopefully sooner than later…hopefully this Saturday, but he played very well tonight. He played very well against Hawai'i. He had 11 assists; so he's doing the things to help his team win, and that's what he needs to do."

Leaving the room: "It's always good to beat those guys," (chuckles). "We hadn't beaten 'em yet since I've been here."

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