In the season opener for both teams, the San Jose State Spartans host the Idaho Vandals on Saturday, Nov. 14. San Jose State comes off a 2-28 (0-18 Mountain West) season. Idaho went 13-17 (8-10 Big Sky) in 2014-15. From 2005 to 2013, San Jose State and Idaho were in the Western Athletic Conference together.
Site: Walt McPherson Court at the Event Center Arena (San Jose, Calif.; capacity 5,000)
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Streaming video: Mountain West Network on Campus Insiders, www.livestream.com/sanjosestate
Radio: 1590 KLIV (San Jose) carries the official Spartan Radio Network broadcast. San Jose State student station 90.5 KSJS carries its own student-produced broadcast.
Idaho: An overview
Idaho head coach Don Verlin is back for his eighth season. Like Wojcik, Verlin faced the uphill task of turning around a losing program when he was tapped as head coach in 2008. In Verlin’s first season, Idaho defied expectations of finishing last in the WAC and went 17-16 (9-7 WAC) with a berth in the 2009 CollegeInsider.com Tournament. Idaho would return to that tournament in 2011 and 2012.
Although the team returns just one starter from the last season, eight other letterwinners return and bring significant experience. Senior forward Paulin Mpawe (6’10”, 227) started 25 games last season and averaged 2.6 points and 2.9 rebounds. Sophomore forward Arkadiy Mkrtychyan (6’7”, 235) averaged 8.8 points and 4.8 rebounds. Last season’s top scorers are out either due to graduation or transfers.
Among those competing for the point guard position is 6’2”, 180-lb. junior Perrion Callandret, who played 30 games with one start yet averaged nearly 21 minutes per game as a reserve with 6.7 points and 2.5 rebounds on average. Sean Kramer of the Spokane (Wash.) Spokesman-Review remarked about Callandret: “He’s a freakish athlete known for his high-flying dunks in high school, and even has a couple of them under his belt at Idaho.”
Idaho won its last game against San Jose State, with a 66-63 score in Moscow, Idaho. San Jose State’s last win over Idaho was on March 10, 2011 in the WAC Tournament, when eighth-seeded San Jose State upset fourth-seeded Idaho in the quarterfinal round 74-68.
Both teams face similar themes going into the season, with major roster rebuilds due to the losses of key players. San Jose State lost four of its top scorers from last season, with Jaleel Williams graduating, Jordan Baker being dismissed from the team, and Darryl Gaynor and Rashad Muhammad transferring. San Jose State has six freshmen (five true, one redshirt), while Idaho has five (three true, two redshirt). As a season-opening opponent, Idaho is an even matchup that makes this game an opportunity for the team to show that it is a whole new team from last year’s two-win horror show.