Posted at 12:33 p.m., Wednesday, November 7, 2007
CBKB: Idaho seeks improvement after 4-27 season
Associated PressMOSCOW, Idaho Idaho second-year head coach George Pfeifer hopes height will pull the Vandals out of the Western Athletic Conference cellar.
"As we approach this coming season, we know we have upgraded our talent," Pfeifer said. "Most evident is the size of our front line. We have five players who are 6-foot-8 or taller and that is something we didn't have heading into last season."
Last season Pfeifer replaced Leonard Perry, whose team was 4-25. The 2006-2007 Vandals finished 4-27, with a 1-15 WAC record. Idaho is again pegged to finish last in the nine-member conference this season.
Pfeifer wants his front line to improve on field-goal percentage and rebounding. The Vandals averaged just 61.5 points per game last season, worst in the league.
"We had some close games last year in conference play which we need to find a way to win this season," he said. "The WAC is being touted as being even more challenging than last year and last year we had four of the nine teams in the postseason. No question, we will have our work cut out for us."
Pfeifer's foundation is a trio of returning starters: frontcourt players Darin Nagle, Clyde Johnson and Michael Crowell. Among nine new players are six transfers.
Nagle, a 6-10 forward, joined the team in December and started 22 games, averaging 9.3 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. He also led the team with 42 blocked shots.
Inexperience again will hurt the Vandals this season, as Pfeifer will look for someone to replace last year's best player, guard Keoni Watson, who scored 18.1 points per game.
Junior college point guard Terrence Simmons from Connors State College in Oklahoma is expected to help, as is transfer Jordan Brooks, 6-3, who played on two NJCAA national title teams. Simmons averaged 10 points and five assists per game for the Cowboys as a sophomore.
Brooks led Midland (Texas) College in rebounding with 8.7 per game and assists (3.6) and was second on the team in scoring, with 14.2 per game.
Junior forward Mike Kale, 6-8, 240, redshirted last season because of a knee injury. He started 12 games in 2005-06, averaging 6 points and 4.6 rebounds.
The schedule won't be the Vandals' friend, with early season contests at No. 14 Gonzaga and 10th-ranked Washington State.
"We have worked hard to put a competitive schedule together," Pfeifer said. "We will play two teams early on that were in the NCAA Tournament last season in Gonzaga and Washington State. Developing an attitude toward winning is critical and will help us find success in those close contests."