There was a time when a 15-16 record would have been celebrated by Idaho.
But that wasn't the case this season as the Vandals did not cash in from having four seniors in the starting lineup and failed to build on last season's 17-16 mark and the school's first postseason appearance since 1990.
In short, there were expectations for the Vandals this season ... and they underachieved after being picked to finish fourth in the WAC in a preseason polls from coaches and media. Idaho finished sixth with a 6-10 mark and was never in contention after a six-game losing streak near the beginning of the conference schedule.
Second-year coach Don Verlin sometimes questioned his team's chemistry, consistency and senior leadership, but he saw more positive trends for his program after the season ended.
"When we came here two years ago, if we sat in the locker room and you would have told us that we'd have 32 wins in two years, we'd have all taken it and went to year three," Verlin said in the Idaho Statesman.
"When we came to Idaho, they had won only seven WAC games in three years. These guys have done a great job of building a really good foundation at the University of Idaho. We're really excited about our future."NOTES, QUOTES
FINAL RECORD: 15-16, 6-10, tied for sixth in the WAC.
WHAT WENT RIGHT: Idaho started the season with a win at Utah, which is no easy trick even in a year in which the Utes are down. After that, though, the quality wins were few. Pacific transfer guard Steffan Johnson averaged 9.9 points and hit 40 percent of his 3-point attempts (74 of 185), but he didn't add to the victory total in his only season as a Vandal. Senior guard Mac Hobson was honorable mention all-league, averaging 14.4 points and 5.2 assists. Senior center Marvin Jefferson, who averaged 6.2 rebounds and had 64 blocks, was selected to the WAC All-Defensive team.
WHAT WENT WRONG: Forward Brandon Wiley, who averaged a team-high 5.6 rebounds in 2008-09, played in only three early games before shutting it down because of a back injury. He was able to take a redshirt. Idaho wasn't a good free throw shooting team (66.1 percent), but really wasn't horrible in any one area. The Vandals just weren't disciplined enough or cohesive enough to get over the top, finishing 0-9 against the top four teams in the WAC, including a conference tournament quarterfinal loss to Nevada. Coach Don Verlin dealt with off-court issues all season.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "It didn't go as good as we hoped, but that's how things go sometimes. All you can do is tell your teammates to stay together. We fought hard." -- Mac Hopson, in the Idaho Statesman, on the Vandals' season.STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THE GOOD NEWS: The cupboard won't be totally bare, as posts Kyle Barone and Luiz Toledo have shown the ability to score. And the Vandals did redshirt point guard Landon Tatum, a junior college transfer, so he could run the show next season. Idaho signed three players in the fall -- guard Idell Bell and power forward Renado Parker from North Idaho College, and guard Gary Winston from Walla Walla (Wash.) High School -- and has more scholarships to give this spring.
THE BAD NEWS: The team's top four scorers are gone, taking with them 35.2 points per game, as well as 17.2 rebounds and more than 11 assists per outing. Beyond that, the Vandals lose a fifth senior, forward Luciano de Souza, who averaged 6.9 points and capped his career with a personal-best 20 points in the WAC tournament. That's a lot to replace in one season.
Freshman F Corey Stern, who was considered a good high school signing for coach Don Verlin last year, left the team during the season and will transfer.
KEY RETURNEES: F Luiz Toledo, who will be a junior, will be the team's leading returning scorer at 7.4 points per game. He made a WAC-best 63.8 percent of his shots (88 of 138). Kyle Barone, a 6-10 freshman center, averaged 15.8 minutes per game and showed promise. He shot 60.4 percent and averaged 5.0 points and 4.1 rebounds. A bigger opportunity awaits for guards Marcus Lawrence and Jeff Ledbetter.
--F Brandon Wiley, who played in only three games this season because of a back injury, is taking a redshirt and is expected to return next year as a senior.
--C Marvin Jefferson finished his Idaho career with a double-double -- 14 points and 10 rebounds, as well as four blocks -- against Nevada. His 64 blocks were the second-best single-season total in school history.
Previous Report: 03/23/2010