PLAYER POST-GAME: Idaho falls to WSU

INSIDE ARE IDAHO PLAYER POST-GAME COMMENTS from sophomore Stephen Madison and Mansa Habeeb, as well as coach Don Verlin. Idaho dropped a hard-fought battle with Washington State on Reggie Moore's buzzer beater that gave WSU their final 66-64 edge with .9 seconds left in the game.

Not a bad comeback. Talk about what happened in the second half. You guys really turned it around.

MH: "Coach just focused on getting back and stopping the transition, containing 'em and not letting 'em get to the basket as easy as they did in the first half; so that's what we did in the second half to get back in."

You guys started off kinda slow. What did coach tell you guys at halftime?

SM: "Just take it one possession at a time. You can't get all back at once; so just grind it out and come down to the end."

Mansa, you played Reggie (Moore) pretty tough there…

MH: (chuckles) "I'll give all the credit to Reggie. He's a good player. I just felt I had to stop him; don't let him score layups, no threes. Just stop him and prove to coach that I can be out there and be a defensive player."

Despite the loss, you guys played very well against pretty good Pac-12 team. Did that give you guys confidence going into the rest of your nonconference games and then going into the WAC season?

SM: "Yeah. A game like that, we played 'em tough and know they're Pac-12. We always want to win, but they're a very good team. Yeah. Even though it hurts now it is. It gives us confidence for the next one. It'll help us."

Talk about what it was like playing in front of crowd like that, that was that involved in the game. It's a little different for Stephen, he's been here.

MH: "It was different for me being a junior college player last year. I loved it. I loved being out there. Next time I hope we just get the win."

SM: "You feed off the energy. It's good to have a crowd like that. It really helps us out."

You guys are sitting at 4-4 now in kind of a WAC that no team has really emerged. Do you guys feel like you're still getting better every game and really you have a chance still to take that…"

SM: "Definitely. It's still really early and we're competing and we're getting better every day. You can see it, and even though our record's showing it right now, but I feel…we have a really good chance to compete this year."

Looking at the bottom stat line…you outscored (WSU) in the paint and off turnovers, second chance points, fast breaks…what was the game plan?"

MH: "We knew they could it and they have shooters, stay out on them, but the big thing was like shrinking their floor on transition, shut 'em down driving, and get the rebounds, not giving up second chances…"

SM: "Contest every shot, no open shots, because if one of 'em gets hot and starts going it's going to be a long game."

About midway through the second half you guys were down and all of a sudden you got a spark and hit a run, and turned the game around. Anything in particular that happened?

SM: "It starts with stops. We started getting the stops, getting the rebounds, and we were out on transition. I mean, we're tough. That's where we really want to get to and get out there in transition."

Do you guys feel like you were prepared enough coming into the game?

SM: "Yes, definitely. We had a very good week of practice and we were well prepared for this game."

Stephen, you're a pretty consistent starter…how important when you have players like Mansa and Djim especially tonight who come in and kinda give that little spark?

SM: "It's big. We that help off the bench, because everyone can't play the whole game, and coming in being a spark on defense and attacking the rim like Mansa's been doing and Djim finishing, that's huge for us, and we'll need that through the whole season."

Idaho HEAD COACH Don Verlin

Well coach, that's about as heartbreaking as you can get, to lose it right there at the end, but you guys hung with 'em. Talk about what worked well in the game for you guys.

"Well, in the first half not much, but I thought our guys played extremely hard tonight. I thought we played hard enough to win this basketball game. No question about it. You've got to give WSU credit. When it came time to make the winning plays they did. We got a number of stops in the second half and we don't come up with the rebound. I really thought them getting those extra possessions in the second half was the difference in the game. It comes down to a one possession game, and Reggie Moore, like I said before the game, is an excellent player. He's an all-Pac-12 type guy, and he made a heck of a shot for them to win this basketball game. I think you're right in your assessment. I thought we got better the first half of this week. I thought we battled really hard and we showed a lot of heart and a lot of guts coming back against a very well-coached team."

That last play of the game, the possession prior to WSU's last possession. It looked like to me you were trying to run out the clock and then shoot a three-pointer to seal the win. What was the coaching decision on that play?

"You mean the one where Landon (Tatum) drove the lane? No…we were trying to score right away. They did a good job defending our first option, and we got to the end of our motion at the end of our play and we came off a ball screen, Landon countered it and went to the hoop. We were trying to score immediately. It was not a three-point play setup. It was basically a two-point play. We thought that we wanted to get that game tied and tried to get into overtime if we could and we got it tied. I didn't feel like our defense was bad the last possession of the game. I felt like we had that shot pretty guarded. He just made a good shot. I was even kinda cringing, I thought maybe we even fouled him on that last shot, but he made it. You've got to give credit to them. Ken (Bone) does a fabulous job. I thought they were very well prepared tonight. For as good an offensive team as we are they did a great job taking away our guys early, and I thought we made some good adjustments at halftime and we were able to come out and shoot 60% in the second half scoring 39 points. It just wasn't enough to get it done."

You outscored 'em in the paint 34-22, on second chance points…inside presence.

"Yeah, I thought we did a pretty good job. I thought they did a good job of taking Kyle (Barone) away. I thought they did a good job early in the game. I thought their size really bothered us. I thought we had the ball in there a few times that we didn't come up with the baskets. You go back through in your mind…Kyle missed a couple of shots he doesn't normally miss. He gets blocked on a dunk. He missed a couple close shots, but I think you've got to give them credit. They were challenging every one of those shots up there around the rim, and their size was a factor tonight, especially with Marcus Capers. I thought him on Deremy Geiger was a key part because his length really disturbed Deremy's shot. When we were able to get him free in the second half he was able to knock 'em down, but I thought that their length and size really bothered us."

Talk about Djim Bandoumel. He's kinda shuffling in and out of the lineup. He didn't play in the first half, came out in the second half and scored nine points, six right off the bat. Talk about the decision not to play him in the first half.

"Well, Djim didn't make the last road trip. I haven't been happy with his effort in practice, but I felt like tonight in the second half he gave us a tremendous lift. He gave us a lot of energy, was able to score the ball down there and did a lot of good things. I think for your team to grow as a basketball team and a basketball coach everybody's got to bust their tail, and I didn't think Djim was giving this basketball team the effort that we needed, but we're working through that and obviously he came out and gave us a huge lift in the second half. We need him to continue to give us a lift because he can really help this basketball team."

Coach, only seven minutes for Connor (Hill) after coming off a 15-point game. Was it just that they kinda had him figured out?

"I thought they were playing strung out tonight. They were really getting out on our three-point shooters, and it felt like in that game, and you always look back and go 'maybe we should have gotten him a few more minutes,' but I thought Habeeb was more effective driving the ball to the basket. I think there's two ways to break down pressure. One is you throw it to the past and I thought they were doing a good job of pushing us out of our post area that we need to be our post spots; so I thought Mansa gave us a really good lift as far as driving the ball to the basket and breaking down their defense for some kicks…and they were on Connor. They know Connor can shoot; so…it was just kind of more of a gut thing that I thought Mansa was giving us a better lift. Also I was really happy with the way Mansa guarded Reggie Moore. I thought that was a good matchup for us even late in the game. I mean, he scores it over him, but I thought there for a period when they scored four or five possessions in a row and two or three of 'em were dunks because they were beating us on penetration, I thought Mansa was a guy who could keep Reggie in front of him."

Coach, Idaho loses to Eastern Washington, Eastern Washington gets blown out by WSU, and you guys take WSU to down to the wire. Do you look at the bigger picture there or is it just game by game?

"It's game by game. We've got to just work on getting better. I mean, that's this time of year in college basketball and that's what's so great about our game. Anybody can beat anybody, and that's why we have upsets. We've just got to, game by game, get better and just do the things we do. I think where we fell short tonight was that we just didn't come up with rebounds when we needed to. You look at our stat sheet some of our big guys have got to get a few more rebounds. That's just the way it is. That's the way basketball is, but you've got to give WSU credit. They did a good job in some areas tonight."

We asked Stephen and Mansa about the atmosphere tonight, first game in the Spectrum.

"It was awesome. It was great. I really believe for this program to take the next step we've got to establish a quality home court, and we had one tonight. That's what's probably more disappointing for us selfishly as coaches and players is we want to reward those people when they come out. Those guys were hurting in the locker room, and they were hurting because we had a great crowd and it was a great game. It would have been a great game and a great program builder to win this game, but we didn't; so we've got to go back and get better. We've got to hope that the next time December 17… I know students aren't there, but they come out and then when we open WAC we've got Nevada and Fresno State. Even though students aren't here we need their help because I really believe in time this is going to be a team that will be able to compete very high in the WAC conference."

Perimeter defense. Early in the game they got a bunch of open threes, knocked down five in the first half. Second half they didn't seem to get those open looks. Did you change anything up or was it just getting the shooters?

"I thought in the first half it was more the post guys that gave up those three-point shots if I remember right...on a couple of missed assignments there. They got a three pointer in the zone when we didn't bump back. I don't know if it was our perimeter defense or more just a couple of missed executional things. They got a couple against the zone. I was not happy in the first half because I thought we let (Patrick) Simon get a couple easy looks and that was a game plan emphasis…that's the only way we felt like he could score his basketball, and when he got his shot you've got to give him credit. He knocked it down…We didn't really talk much about that at halftime to be honest with you. What we talked more about was executing our defensive game plan. I thought we did a lot better job in the second half."

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