Western Athletic Conference Tournament (Las Vegas, Nev.)
Game 31: #4 Idaho (18-12, 9-7 WAC) vs. #5 Hawai`i/#8 San Jose State
When: March 10, 2011 (12 p.m. PT)
Where: Las Vegas, Nev. (Orleans Arena)
Radio: Vandal Radio Network/VandalXtra (online)
Online Video: ESPN3
Live Stats: www.WACSports.com
A Look at the Vandals:
Idaho finished the 2010-11 regular season 18-12 overall and 9-7 in WAC play to tie for third in the conference. The Vandals won six of their final eight games to end the season and give them their highest regular-season win total (18) since the 1992-93 season (23). The third-place WAC finish is their second in three years under head coach Don Verlin. Idaho is led by 2011 second-team all-WAC, Jeff Ledbetter, a senior guard who led the WAC in 3-pointers made (55) and free throw percentage (.875), and finished seventh in scoring average (15.1) in conference play this year. Idaho is one of the WAC's most efficient teams this year, as they shot a conference-best .471 from the field in WAC games, and held opponents to a .409 percentage. Idaho also led the league in 3-point shooting (.390) and were second in 3-point percentage defense (.298) in WAC play.
A Look at the Rainbow Warriors:
After starting conference play 0-5, Hawai`i rallied to win eight of its final 11 WAC games. UH is 18-11 overall and finished WAC play at 8-8. The Warriors join Idaho as one of the WAC's top defensive teams. Their .408 field goal percentage defense against WAC opponents ranked second in the conference, while their 5.00 blocked shots per game led the league. Hawai`i averaged 66.5 points on 43.9 percent shooting and allowed 70.1 points per game in WAC play. Zane Johnson's 15.9 scoring average led the team, but forward Bill Amis was a second-team all-WAC pick after averaging 14.5 points, 7.9 rebounds and 2.2 blocks in league play.
A Look at the Spartans:
San Jose State went 15-14 overall and 5-11 in WAC play this season. The Spartans won four of their final six games to end the season. SJSU has played in four overtime games this year, and went 2-2 in extra time. SJSU averaged 71.2 points per game in conference play on 39.7 percent shooting, but gave up a 45.1 shooting percentage and 77.2 points per game. The Spartans feature the nation's third-leading scorer in Adrian Oliver, a first-team all-WAC honoree who puts in 24.3 points per game. Senior guard Justin Graham is a second-team all-WAC pick who was second in the WAC in assists and steals and eighth in scoring in conference play.
Unfamiliar Tournament Foes
After earning the #4 seed in the 2011 WAC Tournament, Idaho finds itself on the same side of the bracket as #5 Hawai`i, #8 San Jose State and #1 Utah State. The Vandals have faced just one of those teams, SJSU, in the WAC Tournament before. When they were Big West Conference members, Idaho and Utah State met once in the Big West Tournament, a 61-41 USU win in 2002. Idaho went 4-2 during the regular season against its side of the WAC Tournament bracket.
Hitting the (Half) Century Mark
Idaho's 78-69 victory over Seattle on Mar. 5, 2011, gave Don Verlin his 50th career win as a head coach, all at Idaho. He is the 11th coach in school history to reach 50 victories at Idaho. The quickest coach to 50 Idaho wins was David MacMillan, who did so in his 60th career game between 1920-23.
Shooting the Lights Out
Sophomore center Kyle Barone is well on his way to making some marks in the Idaho record book, but he's already got a spot to his name in Western Athletic Conference history. Barone's 64.5 percentage from the field in WAC play this year is the fifth-best league-only shooting percentage in WAC single-season history. His 61.4 percentage in all games this season is currently eighth-best in the Idaho record book.
Going Out as Winners
Idaho is 3-0 in Senior Night games under Don Verlin. Before Verlin, Idaho had lost nine consecutive Senior Day matchups. Idaho beat Fresno State, 59-56, in 2009 and took down Hawai`i, 78-69, last season. The Vandals beat Seattle, 78-69, to send Travis Blackstock, Shawn Henderson, Jeff Ledbetter and Brandon Wiley out with a win in their final home game.