Verlin on Idaho's development in 2011

After falling to Washington State 66-64 Wednesday, Vandal coach Don Verlin was asked by the media to assess the progress his team has made about one-fourth of the way through the 2011-12 schedule, the pre-conference schedule itself, and how the WAC is shaping up.

Q: You're 4-4 right now with a couple non-conference games left then you get into conference…How's your confidence right now compared to the start of the season?

"We've got to get better. I think the conference, you look at New Mexico State and they're very talented. I watched them play Arizona right to the wire. They are, from what I've seen, the best team in the conference. Then Nevada beats Washington the other night at home in a game very similar (to Idaho vs. Washington State). I think that those two teams are far and away better.

"I think that you can throw the rest of us in a hat. It is very similar to the football deal (no runaway leader in the conference standings). You've got to find a way to win these close games, and you've got to do it by winning those close possessions, those winning play possessions. You have to come up with them. As coaches we've got to find a way to help our guys do that, and as players you've got to find a way to get that done if you want to compete in the conference.

"We've got a tough, tough road coming up here. We've got five out of our next seven on the road with the neutral court game in Boise. This is the toughest pre-season we've ever had here, but we've got to find a way to fight like crazy and see what we can get done."

Q: Was this tough pre-season by design? I know (women's coach Jon) said he specifically schedules a tough pre-season to get his girls up and running, get all the nerves out and then hit the WAC. Is that your philosophy as well?

(Deadpan) "Heck, no. I'd schedule every easy opponent I could get (laughter). You know, it was just the way it worked out with the return games. We've had a harder time scheduling lately because we're getting better as a program. When I first got here everybody wanted to play us. Now no one wants to play us. It's just kinda the way it worked out. I mean, good opponents, good regional rivalry opponents I think with obviously (Washington State) and Eastern and Seattle U, and those teams are all better. Wisconsin-Green Bay and Wright State was something that we're going to get back in the future, and our money game is Oregon State. It's just kinda the way it worked out. Playing a good pre-season always, you hope, gets you ready for WAC play, but also what gets you ready is confidence, and we've got to make sure we keep our confidence about us, and losing always hurts that."

After facing Oregon State in Corvallis Friday the Vandals are at Seattle Sunday. Their next home action will be Saturday, Dec. 17 against Cal State Bakersfield.

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