Now that the Vandal football season is over, Vandal basketball can play its home games in the Cowan Spectrum in the Dome, meaning the team is no longer forced to play in Memorial Gym. A welcome change of venue for the Vandals, being able to practice and play games in the Cowan Spectrum.
The Spectrum has been reconfigured for the 2008-09 Idaho basketball season; the team benches have been moved to the South sideline (in front of the chair back seats and the Bob Curtis press box), the official scorer's table is now on the South sideline, and the media table is now on the North sideline.
Below are news and notes from Friday night's victory:
- Idaho's 54-point margin of victory was the most against an NCAA Division I team since the Vandals beat University of Pacific 103-50 under coach Bill Trumbo in 1983.The Vandals will travel to California this weekend to face Sacramento State Monday at 7 p.m. Below are coach and player quotes following Idaho's victory over UC Irvine.
- By winning Friday night, this becomes the first Vandal team to win three games in the month of November since 1998.
- Irvine series records erased: Most points by Idaho (old record was 84); largest Idaho winning margin 54 (old record was 17). The victory snapped a 5-game Irvine win streak against Idaho.
- Irvine is 0-3 having lost at USC 78-55, and home games against Eastern Washington 74-69 and Oregon 84-77 in Irvine.
- Last year in the ESPNU Bracket Buster game, UC Irvine beat the Vandals 69-55 at Irvine. This year both teams returned 4 letter winners and one starter from those teams.
- All five Vandal starters scored in double figures, and all 11 Vandals scored. Terrence Simmons led all scorers with 18, Mac Hopson had 16, Luciano de Souza and Marvin Jefferson had 12 each and Kashif Watson had 10. Trevor Morris and Luis Augusto had 8, Brandon Brown 6, Brandon Wiley and Drew Eisinger 4 and Brandon Blackstock 3.
- Idaho dominated on the glass, finishing with a 50-26 advantage. Jefferson had 9; Hopson and de Souza 7 each; Wiley and Augusto 6 each; Watson 5; Simmons, Eisinger, and Blackstock 2 each, and Morris one.
- The Vandals shot 62.9% from the floor and 61.5% from three-point range; so there were a ton of assists. Watson led with 7, Hopson had 6, Simmons and Wiley 3 each, and Watson, Eisinger, Brown and Blackstock 1 each.
- The Vandals had 11 turnovers to 16 for Irvine, and the Vandals added 7 steals (two each by Augusto and Watson, and one each from Hopson, Morris and Blackstock), versus just one for Irvine. Jefferson blocked two shots, and Morris and Brown blocked one each.
- In team rebounds the Vandals dominated: Points in the paint favored Idaho 46 to 10; Points off turnovers favored Idaho 27-2; Idaho had 16 second-chance points to 8 for Irvine; Idaho had 14 fast break points to 2 for Irvine; and the Vandals had 33 bench points to 28 for Irvine.
- Unusual statistics: The score (other than just before tipoff) was never tied and there were no lead changes. The Vandals scored the first 15 points of the game and never looked back.
University of Idaho first-year Head Coach
Q: General comments on the game?
DV: "I thought we played great. I thought we played hard from start to finish, and that's what we needed to do. As most of you were at the press conference on Tuesday, I wasn't very happy with the way we played at Eastern, and obviously our guys knew that. The thing I like most about [tonight's victory] is they listened, they worked hard two days in practice, and it all paid off tonight."
Q: That was a fast start.
DV: "Fast start. Good start. You always like to get a start like that. We haven't started a game like that [yet this year], and I thought we came out of the gate right from the get-go and jumped on them 15-0. We never really let up, and that was a tribute to the players. They did a great job with the game plan, and a great job pushing the ball on the break. I can't tell you how excited I am for this team. Like I told them in the locker room: 'They made a mistake tonight, because now they raised the bar up, and that's the kind of effort we need every night.'"
Q: Five players in double digits. That helps, obviously.
DV: "Absolutely. Balanced scoring. Obviously Terrence Simmons played a great game. I think he was 7/7, 8/8 at one time…just hit his open shots. We've got to have balanced scoring with this basketball team, and I thought a lot of guys came off of the bench and played well. You know, the stat that I liked the best is Kashif Watson - 7 assists, one turnover. We have to be an unselfish basketball team, and we were tonight by our assist-to-turnover ratio."
Q: Was there any point where you were a little bit worried about the passion coming on? There were some times the kids were separated, but it didn't look like it was out of hand. Were you ever at a point…"back off a little, guys?"
DV: "No, no ... never. I coached with coach Douglass and I know how tough his teams are. No. I want them playing hard. We've had a hard enough time getting them to play with that amount of passion; so I want it to continue. If I have to set a guy out to cool off a little bit, that's a good problem to have."
GAYLEN WOOD: You seemed to totally dominate at the defensive end, and you almost doubled them on the glass on rebounds. Can you talk about that?
DV: "I thought our coaching staff did a great job. Coach Lopes has done a great job. Coach Freeman had the game scouted, and coach Lopes is our defensive coach, and I thought those guys did a great job getting ready to play tonight. A lot of it was just effort. The second part of it is we haven't been very good at guarding dribble penetration. We did that tonight, and once they couldn't drive on us then we were able to keep our bigs around the basket, and our big guys got some rebounds tonight; so that's really how simple it was tonight. But it was very effective because we stopped dribble penetration."
TERRENCE SIMMONS, 6-3, 170, Senior
Q: Did it help that you were playing in the Cowan Spectrum tonight?
TS: "Everybody was excited to play here. The 'Mem' [Memorial Gym] is cool, but this is the real thing right here."
Q: This is a pretty good atmosphere here?
TS: "It is."
Q: Were you happy with the crowd?
TS: "Oh, yeah. I'm surprised a lot of people showed up. That was a good thing. They helped us a lot."
MAC HOPSON, 6-2, 175, Junior
Starting Point Guard
Q: Nice win tonight.
MH: "Thank you. I appreciate it."
Q: You guys look like you started with a little more fire tonight.
MH: "Yeah, a little bit. We were kinda excited to be playing in the dome, in Kibbie. We were excited to be back out here. We lost to Eastern Washington, and we thought we shouldn't have lost; so we wanted to come back out here and kinda get our energy up and get us a win, because we thought we should have won against Eastern, but we came out real slow [in Cheney]. We had to come out today. Coach gave us…"
Q: A pep talk maybe?
MH: "Kinda like that. He kinda like…I don't know what it is, but we wanted to come out with some fire tonight."
Q: You certainly did, and everyone seemed to…tonight it was the whole team.
MH: "I think tonight was the first time everybody came out with fire. It's usually just a couple of guys…coach was really challenging everybody to come every day. Bring their stuff every day, not just in the game but in practice, too. That's how he's been challenging us."
Q: The last couple of days in practice, anything different going on?
MH: "Nah, not really. Just coach challenging people to play hard. That's what it really is. I mean, if everybody plays hard we're going to be in every game and we're going to win like that, because we've got talent here, and coach has a good system here. We should get wins as long as everybody plays hard."
GAYLEN WOOD: Was tonight more of a case of you guys trying to force Irvine to do what you wanted do or were you trying to play off their weaknesses, or did you just get out and get with it?
MH: "We just went out there and played hard. That's what it really was. We ran our stuff. Everybody was concentrating. Everybody was on the same level; so we just came out and played hard. That's really what it was. That's what it really came down to."
Q: Fun basketball tonight?
MH: "Yeah. Real fun. Everybody was pretty much even. We got five people in double figures, people off the bench."
Q: Yeah. It looked like everyone got some significant minutes tonight.
MH: "Yeah, really. Everbody pretty much scored I think…yup; so it was a good day. It was a good day to be a Vandal today."
GAYLEN WOOD: When you guys shoot that high percentage, the statistics go up for assist. Nice passes don't count too much (if the shot is off). What about tonight?
MH: "Everybody had assists – Me, Shif, I mean it was a good day today. It's because of God, though. Couldn't do it without God."
Q: What do you like right now about your team, like the last week or so?
MH: "Stepping up. I mean, everybody stepping up, giving their all, because that's what we need for us to win. We're not the best team, not the most talented team, but we have a lot of talent; so we've got to use that. Everybody's got to play hard."
Q: Good to finally play (after sitting out a year)?
MH: "Oh, man! It's so fun to be out there. I'd rather not sit the bench. I mean, I'd rather be out there and play. It's so fun out there. It's like home just being here."
GAYLEN WOOD: Was it a good move for you? Do you think you made the right move coming over here [transferring from Washington State to Idaho last year and sitting out a season due to transfer rules]?
MH: "That was the best move I ever made, in my opinion. Washington State is a good team, and a good school and everything. But I think this is the place I always wanted to be, and needed to be. There's a lot of family involved. I lived here for a couple of years when I was younger, too. My dad went back to school here; so it's like I've always been tied into Idaho, and always looked up to Idaho - always wanted to go to Idaho for some reason, because of my dad, because I look up to him…I mean, this is the place I always wanted to go pretty much. But I couldn't pass up the Pac 10. Can't pass up Pac 10, but this is the place I really wanted to be I think."