|Men's hoops schedule announced|
MOSCOW – The Idaho men’s basketball team will open its season at home on Nov. 9 against Western Illinois and play 12 games in Moscow, games in Boise against in-state rivals Boise State and Idaho State, and face Oklahoma, Portland, North Texas and Columbia in the Coaches vs. Cancer Tournament, as head coach Don Verlin announced the team’s 2013-14 slate Tuesday.
Six of Idaho’s 31 regular season games come against teams that advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 2013, including home-and-home series’ with Western Athletic Conference rival New Mexico State and future Big Sky foe Montana, and road games at Boise State and Oklahoma.
"Obviously it’s a tough non-conference schedule, because of the opponents we’re playing and because of the travel,” Verlin said.
Idaho’s game at Oklahoma on Nov. 13 kicks off the Coaches vs. Cancer Tournament, and the Vandals will face Portland, North Texas and Columbia in Portland, Ore., to finish the tournament the following week.
“We go to Oklahoma as the start of the Coaches versus Cancer Tournament. Going to Norman, Oklahoma I think speaks for itself,” Verlin said. “Anytime you can set something up that emulates your postseason tournament, that’s what you want to do. That’s what I’m hoping to do when we go to Portland. That was the idea when we set it up and obviously it’s a coaches versus cancer event, which I’m heavily involved in, so I thought it was a win-win for everybody.”
Idaho will continue its road trip over Thanksgiving break, facing Boise State at the CenturyLink Arena in Boise on Nov. 27 before visiting UC Davis on Nov. 30. The Vandals will return home and open the Cowan Spectrum with a rivalry game against Washington State on Dec. 7.
“Washington State at home, that will be a good game,” Verlin said. “That should be a good home event at the Cowan Spectrum that night. We look forward to that and I know our guys are looking forward to that one.”
After facing WSU, the Vandals have three straight games against competition from the Big Sky. Idaho visits Montana on Dec. 11, Portland State on Dec. 14 and faces Idaho State at CenturyLink Arena in Boise on Dec. 20. After visiting CSU Northridge on Dec. 22 the Vandals get a return visit from Montana on Dec. 28 in their final tune-up before WAC play begins.
“To go to Montana and to Portland State, those are important games for us to schedule because we’re going to see them a lot in the Big Sky,” Verlin said. “Idaho State is a return BracketBuster and we moved that game to Boise so the Boise fans should be excited about that basketball game.”
Defending WAC champion New Mexico State joins Idaho and Seattle U as the WAC holdovers from last season. With the additions of Bakersfield, Chicago State, Grand Canyon, Kansas City, Texas-Pan American and Utah Valley, the WAC will look a lot different in 2013-14.
“The WAC has totally changed,” Verlin said. “We obviously know about New Mexico State and how good they are, and I haven’t seen any of the preseason polls but I expect they will be picked to win the league. I know a lot about Seattle U because we’ve played them for about the past five years and I like what they have coming back. Outside of that it’s going to be kind of a new conference season. We’re going to kind of learn as we go this year so-to-speak with about five of these teams, but we’re looking forward to it.”
The Vandals will play home-and-home series with each of their eight league opponents for a total of 16 WAC games, beginning at home against UMKC on Jan. 2 and Chicago State on Jan. 4. Idaho’s final home game of 2013-14 is Feb. 22 against Grand Canyon before the Vandals visit Seattle U, Chicago state and UMKC to close the regular season. The 2014 WAC Tournament is March 13-16 at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nev.
“We’re young and not ready yet, but we seem to really want to work,” Verlin said of his 2013-14 line-up. “We’ve got a lot of energy and a little fire in our belly, so all of those things are good. I think if this team will hang tough and get better every day, we’ll have a chance to be a pretty solid team in the Western Athletic Conference.”