Courtesy: Idaho Athletic Media Relations
University of Idaho men’s basketball honors three seniors in Saturday’s Senior Night game against Portland State. Djim Bandoumel, Deremy Geiger and Landon Tatum are each two-year Vandal players have helped lead the team to 33 wins, a postseason bid and several marquee victories along the way.
With a strong finish this year, these seniors will try to become the first at Idaho to earn back-to-back postseason tournament bids since 1989-90. They were key players in Idaho’s 74-60 win at Oregon State on Dec. 9 – the team’s biggest road win over a Pac-12 team since 1981.
One key indicator of the impact of the three seniors is in the Idaho record book. Geiger already has nine entries and could finish among the top 3-point shooters in Idaho history, while Tatum is on pace to finish among Idaho’s all-time top-10 in assists and Bandoumel has one single-game entry for blocked shots and is on pace for a top-10 single-season blocks total.
All three players said their experiences at Idaho have been great, and all three pointed at one game in particular as a top moment in their time with the program.
“I’ve definitely got to say last year when we beat Utah State and the fans rushed the court,” Geiger said. “I don’t think anybody knows how getting the court rushed feels until you really in the middle of it.”
Geiger said the key to Saturday’s game is to remember to play the game and not get too caught up in the moment – especially against one the nation’s most efficient offensive teams in Portland State in a game that could help Idaho’s cause in earned a second-consecutive postseason bid.
“You always want to win on Senior Night,” Geiger said. “The main thing is not to get the juices flowing too much and to just prepare for it as if it were a regular game – but you definitely try to play a little harder.”
Bandoumel played in just eight games for Idaho last year as a junior, but he’s had a breakout year this season as a senior. He’s fourth on the team in scoring at 9.0 per game and ranks third in rebounds at 5.4 per contest. His 1.6 blocked shots per game rank fifth in the Western Athletic Conference and 94th in the NCAA.
He had his first career double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds in the 74-66 win over San Jose State on Jan. 26, and added the biggest field goal of his Vandal career on Feb. 9 against New Mexico State when he put in the game-winner with 5.4 seconds left in a 59-58 victory. His six blocked shots against the Aggies are also tied for fifth-most in Idaho single-game history. Bandoumel needs just three more swats to crack Idaho’s single-season top-10.
“I’m having a good season this year, struggled a lot last year and it’s just fun to be part of something positive,” Bandoumel said about his senior season.
Bandoumel was selected for the Canadian Development Men’s National Team in the summer of 2010 and toured Europe competing with the team. Last summer, he was invited to practice with the Canada Men’s Senior National Team. Bandoumel said he has gained valuable experience in his time at Idaho and plans to continue playing basketball as long as possible.
“If I can stay healthy, I still want to play ball, so we’ll see what happens next year,” Bandoumel said.
Geiger is Idaho’s active leader with 58 consecutive starts in his career leading up to Saturday. That streak is tied as third-highest among active WAC players. He leads the team this season with a 12.7 scoring average and ranks in the top 30 in the NCAA in 3-point field goals per game (2.8) and 3-point percentage (.436). His name already dots the Idaho basketball record book nine times and he’s on pace to finish in Idaho’s top three all-time in single-season 3-pointers made.
“Looking back on it – it was all a blur,” Geiger said. “It just came and went, but I feel like I took advantage of it as best I could and it’s such a great feeling to know how the season’s gone to this point.”
His career-high 27 points propelled Idaho to its road upset at Oregon State and his 23 points spurred the Vandals to their first win at Louisiana Tech in series history. He went 3-of-4 from the floor and 7-of-7 from the free throw line last week to clinch Idaho’s first season sweep of LA Tech. As a junior last season, he was named Most Outstanding Player after leading the Vandals to a 3-0 record at the Basketball Travelers, Inc. Classic tournament.
“I take a lot of pride in that,” Geiger said of his big games. “I’ve always tried to come in and just work hard every day and not only make myself better, but my teammates better.”
Geiger, who has alternated between running the point and playing more of a shooting guard position, said he’ll try to take his game overseas at the professional level, but after that’s done, he doesn’t want to stray too far from the game.
“In a perfect world, I could keep playing somewhere,” Geiger said. “If not, I want to try coaching or something like that to stick with the sport.”
Tatum is Idaho’s active career leader with 212 assists. With 116 dimes this season, he needs just 14 more to break into Idaho’s career top-10 and just 22 more to ink his name among the Vandal basketball career top-10. He’s provided the passes on many of Idaho’s highlight-reel alley-oops this season, but he’s also worked to develop himself into more of a scorer.
Tatum is shooting 44.4 percent from the floor and 48.1 percent from 3-point range this year after attempting just two 3-pointers in his first season last year. Tatum even banked in a buzzer-beating halfcourt shot earlier this year to force overtime at Wright State.
Tatum’s career-high 20 points and career-best 13-of-15 free throw shooting helped give Idaho its first win at Louisiana Tech and had a career-high 10 assists in the team’s 94-74 win at UC Davis in December. Tatum has played in every game the last two seasons and has started every game in 2011-12.
“It’s been really cold, coming from Texas,” Tatum joked. “With all the snow and everything, it’s different, but basketball and school has been really fun. Everybody in the community is really supportive and it’s been a really welcoming experience for me.”
Tatum also said he’d like to try playing overseas, but as a Journalism major, he’d like to work in sports reporting or broadcasting.