Sunday, September 28, 2008

2008-09 Opponent Breakdown: University of Idaho

In their second game of the season, GU will take on the Idaho Vandals. This will be the final game before the very challenging Old Spice Classic.

Last Season's Results: As has been the case in recent years, last year was a struggle for the Idaho Vandals. After a disappointing campaign that saw the Vandals go 8-21 (5-11), a coaching change was made, and Don Verlin was brought in. Verlin was a longtime assistant at Utah St., and will obviously be looking to change the culture in Moscow. The matchup last season between GU and Idaho saw the Zags dominate every aspect of the game in the 80-43 victory. The win was highlighted by the Bulldogs limiting their opponent to 13-second half points.

New Faces: It appears that the Vandals are looking for a quick turnaround, as most of the new faces come from the JUCO ranks. The lone incoming freshman is Kyle Barone of Garden Grove, CA. Barone is an athletic big man, who has range all the way out to the 3-point line. It is expected that Barone will see immediate playing time, and is likely to be a key contributor this season. A lot will be expected from incoming JC big man Marvin Jefferson. The 6'10 center was recruited by Kentucky, Fresno State, and Nebraska, but chose to bring his talent to Idaho. Jefferson will likely start right away, and he could be one of the more impressive newcomers in the WAC. The two other transfers are Kashif Watson and Brandon Wiley. Both are expected to see significant playing time this season, with Watson likely competing for a starting spot.

Players to Watch: The dismissal of Jordan Brooks and Mike Hall means that the top four scorers from last years team are gone. Trevor Morris is the top returning contributor, and he only averaged 7.1 points per game. This team will rely heavily on the newcomers that were previously mentioned, as well as UNLV transfer, Marcus Lawrence. In order for Idaho to have any success this season, the new faces must mesh immediately.

TKR's Concern-O-Meter: This game should be nothing more than a warm-up for the Old Spice Classic. This game is on the schedule so that the Bulldogs can iron out any problems them may be having, as well as to help settle on a set rotation. The Zags should be up by double digits entering the second half, and if nothing else, there should be a great atmosphere at the MAC.

What We are Watching for: I am curious to see if by the end of this game, Coach Few has settled on an 8-9 man rotation. With the Old Spice Classic looming, it is imperative that the rotation has been settled on, and that everyone is comfortable with their role. I will also be carefully watching Austin Daye. After the injury scare this summer, these warm-up games will reveal how strong Austin's knee really is. It is important that he gets some solid minutes under his belt, because he will be relied on heavily against Oklahoma St.

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