Vandals fall at San Jose State

Thursday night Idaho (13-14, 6-7 WAC) began a two game road swing through California, falling 72-64 at San Jose State (12-14, 5-8 WAC). The Vandals were paced again by junior starting point guard MAC HOPSON (20 points, eight assists, four rebounds, and two steals), with junior forward Luciano DeSouza adding 14 and senior Trevor Morris adding 13 more. Inside are quotes from both head coaches.

Idaho Head Coach Don Verlin, post-game quotes

LARRY JOHNSON: Well, coach. Your thoughts on the game.
DV: "I thought they played harder than us. You've got to give them credit. I thought they played hard. San Jose did a great job of…we had a good run in the first half and I thought they just played harder than us. When they out-rebound you by the number that they out-rebounded us, you're going to lose most of your ball games. When yout get out-rebounded 43-18, you're not going to come out… You've got to give San Jose and the rebounders credit. C.J. Webster with three, and Junstin Graham had three big offensive rebounds; same with Devonte Thomas. I mean, they just kicked our tails on the boards to be honest with you."

LARRY JOHNSON: The team looked tired in the first half. Do you think they were tired?
DV: "I hope not. I mean, we've taken a bunch of days off. We shortened practices. It's part of traveling on the road, but we got in at a decent hour last night; so I don't think so. Not any more than any other team at the end of February. I think we should be fresh, but sometimes that happens on the road."

Q: Adrian Oliver had a tough night tonight shooting. Was there any game plan against him? Did you do anything in practice to focus on Adrian?
DV: "I actually thought we did a good job on him. We tried to limit his touches, as good a player as he is, and as many points as he scores. We tried to limit his touches, but I thought he did a great job getting to the free throw line. He goes 8 for 11 from the foul line, 14 points, 5 rebounds; not a bad night, 8 for 11. I thought we did a good job. I thought we fouled him entirely too much. Obviously the difference in the game was we fouled too much and got out-rebounded. They outscore us at the free throw line by 11 and out rebounded us by…I can't even subtract that high."

Q: You guys missed a couple of free throws towards the end of the game that could have gotten you guys back into the game. Will you talk about that a little bit?
DV: "Just missed ‘em. Our best player had four of them I think. We missed two front halves of one-and-ones and I think we missed six free throws in a row if you count the front halves. That's been our Achilles heel all year. You look at it and we shoot 57%; so that was obviously one of the differences in the game. I thought when we got ourselves to the line we didn't take advantage of it."

Q: What was different in this game from the first game back in Idaho when you guys won?
DV: "You know, it was kinda like they were two of the same games, just the other team winning. I don't know if there was a huge difference. I thought they made some big plays. I thought Justin Graham was very good tonight, six assists, no turnovers. He played very well, made some big shots, made his free throws. The bottom line is I thought they played harder than we did, and I think that's the reason why they won."

Q: Mac Hopson had 20 points tonight and had eight assists and did a pretty good job for your team. Talk about his play a little bit.
DV: "I thought Mac played a very good floor game. I probably played him too many minutes. That might be the reason why he missed some free throws. If you had to pick at Mac's stat line you'd say 6 for 12 from the free throw line isn't up to his normal shooting percentage, but I thought Mac played very well. I thought he was ready to play. I thought he played great. I didn't think our post players competed as hard as I want ‘em to against San Jose's post guys; so I think that was the difference."

Q: Do you think it was a factor that Marvin Jefferson got into foul trouble?
DV: "Oh yeah. That's been Marvin's Achilles heel all year long. He gets in foul trouble and teams know that. San Jose did a great job of attacking him and getting him in foul trouble."

San Jose State Head Coach George Nessman, post-game quotes

Q: Thoughts on the game.
GN: "Before the game we told the guys look, this is an important game, we understand that in terms of WAC standings, but we've got to concentrate like crazy for these couple of hours and when the game's over we've got to move on, get ready for Hawai'i. That's what we'll do. In reflecting back, obviously we have tremendous respect for Idaho and the season they're having. They're really playing together. They have four or five guys return, but they've got a lot of new pieces, and coach Verlin's done a great job of melding those guys. They've been on a roll lately. They've been on a serious roll, and they handled us up in Idaho. I think our guys felt like we can play better than we did up in Idaho. I think we did. I think our defensive effort was really strong, particularly when we needed some key stops there and we got away from it a little bit. Overall individually Justin Graham played real well, and I think Devonte Thomas gave us a huge lift."

Q: In the first half it seemed pretty even, but their defense was pretty fast. They seemed to trap pretty well.
GN: "They are very quick, good with their hands. They deflect a lot of passes. They mix their defenses well so they throw you off balance and they surprise you with traps. Look. They're a good team, and they've been playing really well. They've beaten Boise twice, they beat Nevada. They beat New Mexico State. This is a good club."

Q: What were your adjustments in the second half?
GN: "I think the biggest thing, we really try to stay true to who we are. We try to establish our inside game, and sometimes it doesn't result in shots for CJ or Chris Oakes, but it forces them to collapse. And when the ball comes out now we can get into attack mode, and I think we were able to do that."

Q: Can you talk about Mac Hopson's play and how you guys tried to contain him?
GN: "He's really, really good. I mean, he changes speeds and changes directions, and he's smart. I know it seems funny, but 20 is what he's gonna do on you, especially when his team's behind and he needs to make baskets. He's just really good, and he's one of those guys that's really hard to hold to six or seven. If you really make him work it takes away some of the rest of their game, and we just tried to do our best to make him work as much as we could."

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