POST-GAME: Idaho tops Boise State

Wednesday night proved to be an enormous night for the Vandal basketball team as they completed the season sweep of Boise State with a last second shot for a 56-54 win in Boise. After the game Idaho head coach Don Verlin talked to the media, along with point guard MAC HOPSON and center Marvin Jefferson.

Idaho Coach DON VERLIN, post-game quotes

LARRY JOHNSON: Coach, your thoughts on the game?
DV: "Well, unbelievable. What I've told the media all year long, this team has a lot of character, and they showed it tonight. We were double digits down in the first half. I thought they did a great job of listening to the adjustments we made at halftime, and we executed our game plan in the second half. We got it to a half court game and we found a way to win, and that was really it. I mean, I thought our guys were just tough as nails down the stretch. It's their character. That's the way it's been all year."

Q: When you called the timeout at about five minutes into the first half, your guys were down, not hitting anything. What did you tell the kids at that point?
DV: "Well, nothing really. Just ‘hang in there.' I mean there was a lot of basketball to go. Just hang in there. Keep playing. I mean, I thought they had made some good shots early. They came out on fire. I was a little upset at halftime because we gave them four really easy baskets in transition, something we call ‘over the top' which Boise does a great job of. We didn't get many of those in Moscow and we gave them four in the first half, and we were down eight. I said, ‘Hey, we take those away and this is gonna be anybody's game.' That's kinda what happened in the second half. I thought we did a great job of just grinding, getting two or three every four-minute time out. That's what we tried to do, and then we found a way to win at the end,"

Q: What did you guys do defensively in the second half? I think they scored about 20 points.
DV: "Nothing different. Nothing different. I think we scored our ball a little better. I thought we did a great job. They didn't get any second shots, and most importantly we got them stopped in transition. We were able to get our press set up a little higher where we could slow them down, and then we got them slowed down in transition, and that was the difference. Defensively we just made it a possession game, and obviously that really helped us win tonight. We got the score how we needed it in the second half."

Q: Boise looked like they got real passive offensively. Is that a byproduct of what you guys do?
DB: "I don't know. It's hard in those kind of games when you've got a lead and that kind of thing. I don't know. I thought they made some great adjustments. We switched ball screens at the start and they did a great job of taking advantage of that in the second – they lobbed over the top a few times in the half court offense. We had to make an adjustment there. I don't know if they got passive or not. I thought our defensive pressure really picked up in the second half. Kashif Watson did a great job on the ball. That was a huge factor in the game."

Q: Where does this one rank as far as big wins go?
DV: "It's our biggest. It's our biggest. Nevada was huge to open the WAC with the road win, but we've only had three of them. This is our third one (laughing) and Sacramento State was the other one; so this is by far the biggest – to beat an in-state rival on the road in that kind of basketball game in this kind of atmosphere, it's as big as it gets for the University of Idaho."

Q: Tell me a little bit about Marvin Jefferson.
DV: "Marvin Jefferson did a great job tonight. One thing with Marv is Marv practiced well all week. We had our best week of practice this week, and I told our guys, ‘We're gonna play well. Now I don't know if we can win but we're gonna play well.' Marvin practiced well and had obviously a huge basket at the end."

Q: What happened at the end? Describe the play.
DV: " Well, we ran our old staple play we ran at Utah State forever and Stu still runs it. We ran it and got an open look. I actually thought Brandon Wiley got fouled and they got up there in loose ball, and Marvin stuck it back in the hoop and that was the game. Our guys did a great job executing that play at the end of the game."

Q: Coach, did you guys talk about the rivalry leading up to this game this week?
DV: "We didn't talk at all about it the first time. We talked a lot about it this time. We felt it was very important for our guys to be ready to understand the rivalry, the history of it, all the things that went into it. I thought our guys did a great job of not losing our composure at any time. We had a chance to fold tonight when were down. I don't know how many we were down in the first half, and I thought we just kept playing."

Q: Were you nervous at all on that last play, the look that they got?
DV: "Oh yeah. Yeah. Hey, that was a great play. You've got to give Greg (Graham, BSU coach) some credit. I mean, he got them a wide open three. We messed up a switch, but that was a great look they had with one of their best shooters. That was probably an error on my part, but a great play on his part."

Q: The atmosphere down here – prepare your guys for it at all? Obviously there were a lot of Vandal fans down here as well.
DV: "Yeah. The atmosphere was great tonight. I thought it was awesome, and I thought the atmosphere in Moscow definitely prepared us for it. This is the way the rivalry needs to be played, in front of packed houses with a lot of excitement."

Marvin Jefferson, post-game quotes

Q: Your thoughts on the game.
MJ: "A big game. Both teams played really hard. All I've got to say is actions speak louder than words, you know what I mean? We came out and played one of our best, closest games of the season. I've got to give credit to both teams. We both played our hearts out. Yeah. Our hearts out today."

Q: Talk about the last play, what you saw?
MJ: "Last play? I saw B Wiley going in there. My man went over and I was like, ‘If he misses this there ain't no way I'm not getting this rebound.' So I just grabbed it and threw it up."

Q: I want to ask you a little bit about the first half. I really thought you kept your team in it. It's the best I think I've seen you play this year. Were you feeling something different?
MJ: "Um, I was just feeling energy, like the whole building was like lighting up. Our fans were up top, and really I was trying to play hard on offense because I wasn't doing too well on defense. I was trying to make up for it in the second half. I had a lot more defensive plays than offensive. I was just trying to help my team any way I can."

Q: What was kinda going on that first five minutes from the players' perspective?
MJ: "What it was, they came out. They had the crowd behind them, and they hit big shots like a lot of home teams do, you know? We came together as a team instead of falling apart, and I think that was the key to the game, both first and second half."

Q: What did coach say to you guys during those time outs?
MJ: "Basically, keep our head. We're still in it. Fight back. We've got to make it a half court game because they were getting way too many transition baskets. The whole game we were preaching defense, defense, defense. We've got to get stops. That's what we did."

Q: Did you get a sense that they got really passive there in the second half and maybe tightened up a little bit?
MJ:: "What happened was they ran out of energy and we gained momentum, and we just basically ran with it. We had the crowd in our favor. Toward the second half I couldn't even hear any of their fans. All I heard was the ‘IDAHO' chant up in the stands, and that right there just gave me all the energy I needed. I could have played 20 more minutes because of the fans behind us."

Q: Did it take you very long to find those fans?
MJ: "Actually, it did! I thought we were alone, you know, and then all of a sudden I heard the 'IDAHO' chant. I looked up and went, ‘Okay. All right. We're here.' I was glad the Vandal nation took a trip and came out here to support us tonight."

Mac Hopson, post-game quotes

Q: Your thoughts on this game.
MH: "Man. It feels so good, you know what I mean? Us not winning for a while, and then us coming into their environment where they've only lost one game is just big-time for our program, for our team. It's a huge confidence boost. It's just great. We just feel so good and we're happy."

Q: What was kinda going through your mind about the last minute?
MH: "I thought…coach said if we come back we're gonna win at the end. He said they're gonna give it to us. That's what we did. We grinded it out and it went our way. We played hard, played our hearts out. Everybody played their hearts out. We played just like we played like against Nevada, Utah State. Coach said if we played like we played there, we're gonna come out with the victory. We got a slow start, but we came out with the victory. That's all that matters."

Q: Tell us about the energy that was going on in this building, even though a lot of it was for Boise State.
MH: "To be honest, all I heard was ‘Vandals.' I heard it all when they said, ‘Go, go go.' I heard, ‘Idaho-go-go-go.' It's a good environment there. They've got a lot of people that live around here and good support. It's a good environment for them."

LARRY JOHNSON: When you shot that foul shot and Idaho took the lead, you acknowledgement the fans. How did you feel at that moment?
MH: "I felt good, you know? It was like our second time going up in the game. I think Shif (Kashif Watson) put us up by two one time before that, so it felt good. Making a free throw. Our free throw percentage being down the last couple of games or on the season; it was big to hit our free throws."

Q: How did Anthony Thomas's comments motivate you guys?
MH: "We remember. We always kept it in the back of our heads, but we really don't get into that, you know? I know for me I try to be as humble as possible. He's a good player. I would never say anything like that, but I mean he's a different person. He has a lot of confidence in his team, obviously. That's about it."

Q: Were you guys intimidated at all, especially …
MH: "Oh, no. No. Never. We're never intimidated. We can't be intimidated. They lace up their shoes just like us. They put on their jerseys just like us. That's all I've got to say about that. I mean, it's really nothing."

Q: What were you thinking on that last shot that Boise State got? They got a pretty good look.
MH: "Oh, they got a GOOD look. They got a so good look. I thought he was going to hit it there. If he would have hit it there it would have broken my heart, but he didn't hit it, obviously; so it was all good from there."

Q: Did you guys play up the rivalry aspect of this?
MH: "Oh, yeah. Yeah. This is a huge rivalry. Sold-out crowd. We were pumped. They were pumped, obviously, too, from the get-go. We got off to a slow start, but we ended up coming back."

Q: Why the slow start do you think?
MH: "I don't know. I'm not sure. We kinda hit down a couple of shots. We didn't hit a couple of shots, but I couldn't really tell you. I really don't know."

Q: Was it a little perplexing to you?
MH: "Not really. Coach is like, ‘Keep our heads in the game and keep on grinding it out. We're gonna come back.' As long as he tells us to do the things that he tells us to do, we're gonna come back and we're gonna win this game. We had confidence all along."

Q: Anything else you want to add?
MH: "Go Vandals!"

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