Idaho men's coach Don Verlin
THE PRESEASON IS COMPLETE and both of Idaho's head coaches continue to prepare for the 2011-2012 basketball season. Jon Newlee (Idaho women's team head coach) and Don Verlin (Idaho men's head coach) spoke the media last weekend about how the exhibition season went for their teams, and what they expect from their teams as the season quickly approaches. Inside are quotes from last weekend.
GENERAL COMMENTS: "Well, that's why we have exhibition games. What I like about them is you can get a lot of different people in some different combinations. You let people, even the veterans who have been around, get their feet wet a little bit. They're always nervous to start the season, so get this out of the way. I think we have a lot to work on, absolutely, but with a young team and the lack of experience that's gonna happen; so it's good. It was a good first step."
THE NEW PLAYERS SEEM WILLING TO SHOOT THE BALL. HOW DID THEY LOOK TO YOU OFFENSIVELY? "I think we had too much dribbling tonight. I don’t think we moved the ball like we can. I don't think we really got into our offense. I don’t think it was very fluid, but I didn't expect it to be with this many newcomers and starting the game. I thought our transition game was good, though, and I think in our transition game we did a good job of spreading the floor and running. They're not gonna be afraid to shoot. I mean, they understand that it's an equal opportunity offense, and … that's what I always tell 'em. You've got to be 'shot ready' when you catch the ball, and knowing what a good shot is and what a bad shot is will come in time. But they're willing to shoot it. Absolutely."
COMMENTS ON INDIVIDUAL PLAYERS: "I thought Jessica (Graham) played very well tonight. I liked what Jess did on the glass, very active, getting around the rim -- physical. Is (point guard) Krisy Karr someone we're going to see a lot of this year? "I think so. Absolutely. You see we're a little thin at the guard spot when we start rotating through; some people are sick and hurt. She's been doing that in practice (the way she played tonight). She has consistently been doing that. I think both of our freshmen did a good job tonight – everybody. Natalie (Lainhart) went in…in her limited time I thought she came in and gave us a lot of energy."
WHAT WILL THE VANDALS WORK ON THIS WEEK? "We're going to work on our offense, getting more fluid. I think we need to do that. I think from a rebound standpoint we can do a better job of blocking out and not giving up O boards. I mean, that's a small team and we gave up a lot of O boards I thought tonight. I think our transition defense is going to be something that we're going to work on this week."
DEFENSIVELY YOU PLAYED A LOT OF MAN-TO-MAN TONIGHT: "I thought we could man 'em up and just work on our principles, and I thought we did a pretty good job tonight of that."
CONSIDERING IT'S AN EXHIBITION GAME, DID IT SATISFY YOUR WANTS AND WHAT YOU WANTED TO SEE? "It definitely exposed a lot of stuff that we’ve been looking at, and finally getting to play against somebody else and see kinda where we need to go from here. I thought it did what it's supposed to do as an exhibition game."
GENERAL COMMENTS: "Well, obviously we put up a lot of points tonight, and I've never worried about us scoring the ball. I mean, we've got some offensive weapons here. I thought our guys played with a lot of energy and a lot enthusiasm. I didn’t think we were as sharp as we need to be defensively again, but we did a lot of really good things tonight."
IS THAT THE TEMPO THAT YOUR TEAM IS GOING TO PREFER THIS YEAR, OR WOULD YOU RAHER PLAY A LITTLE BIT MORE DELIBERATE STYLE? "Well, this team (Williamette), they kinda let us play that way a little bit. I mean, they pressed and tried to keep the tempo moving a little faster which is fine with us. I've always said forever we've got to be able to play at all speeds, and if we've got to play a slow down game, let's play a slow down game. If you wanna play a fast game let's play that. I think probably when we get against better opponents we're gonna have to limit the possessions a little bit more than we have so far."
TALK ABOUT FREE THROW SHOOTING: "We should be a good free throw shooting team. Everything we've done this fall so far shows -- as many free throws that we shoot -- we should be a good free throw shooting team. What did we shoot tonight? 71%? I think this team should probably shoot 72 to 74% on the year. We shot 72% last year; there's no reason why this team can't do that."
DEFENSIVE EFFORT – ARE YOU HAPPIER THAN YOU WERE IN THE EVERGREEN STATE GAME? "Not really, no. I thought we got beat on the ball way too much. I thought our help defense was way too slow. I thought we did a few good things guarding their ball screens early in the game, but we've got to do a better job guarding the basketball. It's just going to take time, and it's going to take time putting this team together and them understanding the team defensive concept. We've still got a lot of work to do on the defensive end."
THERE ARE A NUMBER OF NEW PLAYERS THIS YEAR. HOW WELL ARE THEY PICKING UP YOUR SYSTEM NOW? "Well, that's a great question. Not as fast as I would like is about the best way I can answer it. Maybe that's just my high expectations. I know what we've got on the horizon here with Long Beach and Montana as our next two road games. We're gonna have to be on it defensively and we can't make the errors we've been making, but the new guys are trying their tails off. They're working hard. We've just got to get some of those details cleaned up."
HOW IS THE TEAM CHEMISTRY? "It's great. We've got a great group of guys. There's no question about that. They like each other. We haven’t hit any adversity yet; so who knows how our chemistry is really going to be, but I like this team. They like each other, and that's what's gonna allow us to get better."
IN TWO EXHIBITION GAMES YOU FACED TWO DIFFERENT GAME STYLES - ONE TEAM BOMBED THREES, THE OTHER PUSHED THE TEMPO. IS IT GOOD TO SEE DIFFERENT STYLES? "I think we need to be able to adjust to how people play and I thought it was good. It was good for me getting a lot of guys in for a lot of minutes. Obviously the rotation will shorten up at Long Beach, but I thought it was a good thing for us."
ANY PLAYERS STANDING OUT AFTER A COUPLE OF GAMES? "I love the two freshmen, (Xavier) Bazile and (Connor) Hill are both going to be great players here. Hill can really shoot it and the energy that Bazile plays with and his athleticism…they both played very, very well so far. Dazmond Starke plays with a lot of energy and a lot of emotion. Wendell Faines didn't play quite a well tonight. He got a T early on and that irritated me a bit; so he got to sit on the bench for a while. That's just a learning experience thing. All the new guys have done pretty well, just kinda trying to figure it out. It's good to have (Mansa) Habeeb and (Djim) Bandoumel out there tonight. They obviously add some athleticism and some guys that can do some things."