Vandals drop San Jose 74-66 in Cowan
Senior Djim Bandoumel scores first double-double
Senior Djim Bandoumel scores first double-double
Hoops Analyst, GoVandals.net
Posted Jan 27, 2012


THREE VANDALS ACCOUNTED FOR 53 POINTS in Idaho's 74-66 victory over the Spartans (7-14, 0-6 WAC) in the Cowan Spectrum Thursday night. Idaho improved to 11-9, 4-2 WAC behind stellar performances by Deremy Geiger (21 points, 7/10 on 3's), Kyle Barone (double-double with 21 points and 11 boards, plus 2 assists and 2 blocks), and DJIM BANDOUMEL (first double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds).

The Idaho Vandals are now a good enough basketball team that they can label an upcoming game a "land mine" contest. They should win the game but they have to be very careful because if they aren’t the upcoming opponent can explode and cause a lot of problems on the drive to the conference tournament.

No one used that phrasing, but the San Jose State Spartans pretty much fit the bill coming into the Cowan Spectrum Thursday night with a 7-13 record on the season, and 0-5 in WAC play. The Spartans were also ranked #328 in the country shooting-percentage-wise.

Surely enough, the Spartans (as they did in the last regular season game on the same floor last season) came in and played lights out shooting 52% from the floor, 50% from three-point range and 100% from the free-throw line posting a 35-26 lead with 2:22 remaining in the first half.

At that point the Vandals began a huge blitz outscoring the Spartans 10-2 to trail 37-36 at the half. Idaho then came out after the intermission, forced a turnover on San Jose's opening possession of the second half, and then reeled off five unanswered points to lead by seven, totally changing the complexion of the game.

Riding the hot shooting of senior Deremy Geiger (7 for 10 from three-point range including back-to-back bombs with 2:34 and 1:58 remaining to break the game open), Idaho cruised in with a 74-66 victory to improve to 11-9 on the season, and more importantly 4-2 in WAC action. It was the Vandals' second straight win at home with Hawaii coming to the Cowan Spectrum Saturday night.

Coach Don Verlin underlined the importance of the closing rush at the end of the first half, a rally which saw the Vandals literally outrunning the Spartans. "That last 2:22 of the half was probably the key to the game,” Verlin said. "I think we were down nine and did a great job of finishing that half and getting it back to one.

“To go in at halftime when they had shot 52 and 50 (percent from the floor and on threes) we knew we had to pick up our defensive intensity. But I think more than anything we just needed to wear 'em down, and I thought we did that as the half wore on. I thought we kept getting there on their shooters and contesting their shots, and we just kinda wore 'em down as the game went on."

Geiger talked about the last three-pointer. "That was a huge possession. It was kind of a make or break point in the game," he said. "They were kinda inching back into it and coach came out of the huddle and called a good play. I got a good screen, I shot it and it was pretty much the one that sealed the deal a little bit."

The Vandals got outstanding inside performances from front liners Kyle Barone and Djim Bandoumel to go along with Geiger's mastery from the perimeter. The defense tightened down as well in the second half.

"I thought we did a good job of getting matched up with their shooters,” Verlin said. "We got in the zone about the first possession of the game, or second possession of the game. They threw it to the high post and we were slow getting out on our coverages and they knocked down a three. But then after that I'm not sure we gave another one up in the zone. I thought our guys did a good job finding their shooters and contesting 'em and getting 'em to move out a little farther than they were -- than they were normally used to shooting. Then I thought as it wore on they got a little tight and missed some shots that they had made earlier in the half, and we were able to rebound a lot of those shots."

"San Jose plays a matchup zone all night long, and we talked all week…We talked about finding the open guy, and I thought in the second half we were able to find Deremy on a number of shots. We called a couple plays for him late in the half once he got rolling a little bit to get him some open looks, but I thought it was more just coming out of our offense and finding the open guy. I thought our guys did a good job of that. We had 19 assists tonight which is pretty good. A lot of guys had two or three assists. It was great to see Deremy knock down some shots tonight. Connor Hill came in and knocked down some big shots for us. When you shoot 11 for 23 from three that's a pretty good outing. I thought our guys did a good job making the extra pass. Some of those three pointers were wide open.

"In the locker room before the game we'd been talking all week about how well they rebound," the coach continued, "especially Will Carter. As I told our guys, we've got two guys in the top 15 in WAC rebounds, they've got one. Why shouldn’t we be a better rebounding team than them? I thought Djim and Kyle really stepped up and rebounded their ball, having 10 and 11 rebounds tonight. I thought that was huge to help us win this game."

Barone and Bandoumel both posted double-doubles: 21 points, 11 rebounds for Barone, and 11 points and 10 rebounds for Bandoumel. Bandoumel in the post-game media conference summarized those stats: "For me it's special because it's my first one as a D-1 player. He's (Barone) just used to it. That's his trademark. I'm very glad about it, but I'm very proud that we got the W tonight."

How important was it to Barone? "I've kinda just been down on myself maybe a little bit too much," the 6-10 junior said, "because I expect a lot from myself. Djim was just telling me during the game every time, 'They can't stop you.' I've got to come with the mindset every game. I think if we can do that consistently we're going to be very good, and I think we can do it every night.

"Especially tonight. We were just talking to each other before the game. I think we're the anchor to this team, as far as getting the ball and getting out on the break, and getting easy shots for our teammates as well. I think that was kind of our mindset -- to go hard right from the beginning and get every rebound we could."


POST-GAME COMMENTS

Deremy, what turned it around in the second half?

[DEREMY GEIGER] "I think we just played with a little more…we got comfortable a little bit. We knew they were gonna come out playing hard, and I think we came out just a little bit too lax and just too comfortable. I think the second half we really stepped it up and started playing physical, active defense and really started executing on offense."


Talk about the chemistry in the locker room after that first half.

"The atmosphere, I wouldn't say…it was kinda dull a little bit. Not too much spirit in there. Maybe that's because we were too comfortable at that point, but we really turned it around. Coach got on us and told us what we needed to do, made some adjustments and really came out in the second half and turned it around."


Was your perimeter defense better in the second half or were they just ice cold shooting the three?

"I think it was a little bit of both. They missed some shots they did make in the second half and they usually do make, but I think our defense really helped that. We really came into this game really wanting to contest shots and pressuring guys knowing their style of play and that really helped us."


Talk about your shot. You hit seven, all your points from the three. How did that happen?

"Um, just teammates finding me open, setting screens and me having the confidence to knock it down. I've really been trying to work on that and work on my shooting and getting my percentage up and I had a pretty good night."


Were you having trouble finding open space early on?

"Early I was probably just settling into the game, getting comfortable and not trying to do too much. I tried to let my shots come to me because I know my teammates, Landon Tatum and all the other guards, they'll end up finding me when I'm open. They did a good job of that."


Was there any kind of an emotional factor in this for you guys who were here last year for the last two games, the game here and the one over at Vegas?

"Definitely. That's a big thing we wanted to keep in mind going into this game. We know they beat us our last conference game here at home and they beat us in the WAC tournament in Vegas. I think we had a lot to prove tonight. I think we wanted to come out and re-establish ourselves and kinda make up for that."


The seventh three pointer was really the dagger that kinda ended the game, and afterwards you had a big smile and your hands in the air. Talk about that possession a little bit.

“Uh, that was a huge possession. It was kind of a make or break point in the game. They were kinda inching back into it and coach came out of the huddle and called a good play. I got a good screen, I shot it and it was pretty much the one that sealed the deal a little bit."


Was it a good play because it was for you?

Laughing – "Nah, any play that works is a good play."


The three before that you launched pretty early in the clock. Did you have the green light there even though it was a time of the game maybe you wanted to run the clock a little bit?

"Yeah, I really just kinda got into a rhythm a little bit and I kinda felt that one and I just kinda let it go. Probably it was a little early in the clock, but good thing I made it (chuckling)."


Was there anything unexpected? Did anything happen in the game that you guys did not expect to see?

"I think a lot of unexpected stuff happens in every game, a lot of things that they bring to the game you can't quite prepare for and practice, but I think we did a great job of adjusting to anything that we haven't seen yet. That really is the key part of our preparation and execution."


How do you use this one to prepare for Hawaii on Saturday?

"This is huge. We've won back-to-back games at home. We're kinda getting it rolling a little bit in conference. This adds to our confidence, and we want to carry that over and just come ready every game. Don't take anyone for granted."


Coach said all week this was a scary team. Do you guys think you're starting to become a scary team in the conference?

"I hope so. I hope so. That's a good identity to have and to establish. San Jose State, they are. They've a group of great players. The record means nothing, and they just bring it every night. That's the kind of image we would like to have, a team like that."


Did Kyle Barone's offensive game help you guys, offense and defense?

"Oh yeah, that's huge. That's huge. Kyle always steps up, and not only scoring he does a lot of little things. He had 11 rebounds and 5 for 6 from the free throw line; so he played a solid game. That really helped us a lot."


Kyle, you guys definitely had an advantage height-wise against San Jose State. You utilized that really nicely early on. Once they collapsed you guys kicked out. It seemed like that was the game plan from the very beginning. Is that what you guys talked about coming into the game?

KYLE BARONE: "Yeah, that was part of our game plan. We knew we had an advantage down low in our basic and pass two so guards can shoot it well like you saw tonight with Deremy. Yeah, that was out mind set, working inside out. We'd get the easy looks from outside as well."


A couple double-doubles from you guys. How does that feel?

DJIM BANDOUMEL: "Let me go first. For me it's special because it's my first one as a D-1 player. He's (Kyle Barone) just used to it. That's his trademark. I'm very glad about it, but I'm very proud that we got the W tonight."

KB: "I think if we can do that consistently we're going to be very good, and I think we can do it every night. Especially tonight. We were just talking to each other before the game. I think we're the anchor to this team as far as getting the ball and getting out on the break and getting easy shots for our teammates as well. I think that was kind of our mindset is just to go hard right from the beginning and get every rebound we could."


Kyle, 21 points for you tonight. Talk about what was clicking for you in this game.

KB: "I've kinda just been down on myself maybe a little bit too much because I expect a lot from myself. Djim was just telling me during the game every time, 'They can't stop you.' I've got to come with the mindset every game."


Is this game a pretty big confidence booster for you?

KB: "A little bit. I'd say I definitely played good, and I expect that out of myself every game."


You got two back-to-back home wins coming into a relatively tough game against Hawai'i. Talk about momentum that you guys are building.

KB: "I think we're coming around as a team right now. This is a great time of year to do that. Like you said, we've got to take care of our home court."


Another one-day turnaround for you guys here, Hawaii on Saturday. What kind of message do you send to the rest of the team with one day to prep for a team like Hawaii?

DB: "I think we figured out that since Christmas how to get prepared for game in shortened days. Our team improved a lot on focusing on deals like coach always says to us; so I think we're going to be ready.


FOR DON VERLIN:

You guys were focusing a lot on offensive rebounding during practice this week. How did that out in the game tonight. You guys had 13.

"Well, I thought it helped. No question about it. I talked the guys – they probably told you – in the locker room before the game we've been talking all week about how well they rebound, especially Will Carter, and as I told our guys we've got two guys in the top 15 in WAC rebounds, they've got one. Why shouldn’t we be a better rebounding team than them, and I thought Djim and Kyle really stepped up and rebounded their ball, having 10 and 11 rebounds tonight. I thought that was huge to help us win this game."


Your zone really took a toll on 'em in the second half. Did you make some tweaks or adjustments to it at halftime?

"No, we really didn't. We just played more of it in the second half. I thought we did a good job of getting matched up with their shooters. We got in the zone about the first possession of the game or second possession of the game and they threw it to the high post and we were slow getting out on our coverages and they knocked down a three, but then after that I'm not sure we gave another one up in the zone, and I thought our guys did a good job finding their shooters and contesting 'em and getting 'em to move out a little farther than they were, than they were normally used to shooting. Then I thought as it wore on they got a little tight and missed some shots that they had made earlier in the half and we were able to rebound a lot of those shots."


A couple of those possessions they were running another full court press at you guys. You guys have struggled with it in WAC play. Just a different type of press or…?

"No, they were using the same press that La. Tech runs, a little 2-2-1 and we've been working our press breaker pretty hard. I thought we executed pretty well versus the press. Our turnovers I thought we kinda unforced tonight. How many did we end up with? 13, a couple in transition by Landon that doesn't normally happen. We turned an outlet over. I didn’t think it was as much them as it was us as far as the turnovers tonight, and I thought we executed our press offense pretty well."


They came in 328th in shooting percentage in the nation, shoot over 50% in that first half, but you…we only down one point. You've got to be pleased with the way they finished.

"Yeah. No question. That last 2:22 of the half was probably the key to the game. I think we were down nine and did a great job of finishing that half and getting it back to one. You're right. To go in at halftime when they had shot 52 and 50 (percent from the floor and on threes) we knew we had to pick up our defensive intensity, but I think more than anything we just needed to wear 'em down, and I thought we did that as the half wore on. I thought we kept getting there on their shooters and contesting their shots and we just kinda wore 'em down as the game went on."


Getting Deremy some more touches. It didn’t seem like he got the ball a whole lot in the first 10 minutes of the game or so, and obviously once he got the ball…

"He shot it in."


Yeah, it went in a lot. Did you do some things to free him up?

"You know what? San Jose plays a matchup zone all night long, and we talked all week. We knew what they were gonna do. They do the same thing almost every night out. We talked about finding the open guy, and I thought in the second half we were able to find Deremy on a number of shots. Now we called a couple plays for him late in the half once he got rolling a little bit to get him some open looks, but I thought it was more just coming out of our offense and finding the open guy. I thought our guys did a good job of that. We had 19 assists tonight which is pretty good. A lot of guys had two or three assists. It was great to see Deremy knock down some shots tonight. Connor (Hill) came in and knocked down some big shots for us. When you shoot 11 for 23 from three that's a pretty good outing. I thought our guys did a good job making the extra pass. Some of those three pointers were wide open."


Talk about the play of DJ Brown (18 points, 5 rebounds). Is he someone you're going to have to worry about in years to come?

"It sure looks like it. He had 33 the other night versus Bakersfield. I think he's a division I transfer if I'm not mistaken, but I've seen DJ play for a long time. He's a talented kid, plays with a lot of confidence. He's a hard guard as (Keith) Shamburger is. We did a good on Shamburger tonight. The last two times we've played him he's hung a bunch of points on us. I thought we did a fairly good job on Will Carter, a lot better job in the second half, but all-in-all when you get done with this game and you hold them to 40 and 25 (percent from the floor and three) that's a pretty good defensive effort."






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