#124 Idaho Men's Basketball 2017-2018 Preview

Idaho Vandals
2017-2018 Overall Rank: #124
Conference Rank: #1 Big Sky
Idaho Logo
Idaho is hoping to make their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1990. Last season the Vandals had a good team and finished tied for third in the Big Sky with a 12-6 record. However, after losing to top seeded North Dakota in the semifinals of the conference tournament, Coach Don Verlin and company had to settle for a trip to the CIT. This year however, the expectations are even higher. The thing that dampened the enthusiasm for an NCAA Tournament berth last season was an injury to star guard Perrion Callandret two games into the season. He was poised for a huge senior season after averaging 14.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists back in 2015-2016. He will get another shot at a big senior year in 2017-2018.
2016-17 Record: 19-14, 12-6
2016-17 Postseason: CIT
Coach: Don Verlin
Coach Record: 150-140 at Idaho, 150-140 overall
Who’s Out:
You have to go pretty far down the bench before any players from last year’s team are gone. The top eight scorers return. Pat Ingram averaged 14.3 minutes per game and Ty Egbert added 10.4 minutes per game. Those two were part of the regular rotation but the other four departures all saw very limited minutes. Those include Tyler Brimhall, Nick Blair, Myles Franklin and Jake Straughan.
Who’s In:
Despite eight experienced players returning, do not be surprised if a couple freshmen work their way into the rotation right away. Garrett Kingman will be one of the better shooters on the team from day one. The 6-6 wing can knock down plenty of shots and has the size to attack the basket and help out on the glass. Size on the perimeter is never a bad thing to have in a conference like the Big Sky and Kingman brings plenty of size and the ability to shoot the basketball. He is young, even for a freshman, so it remains to be seen if Coach Verlin will want to throw him into the mix right away. The backcourt also adds Geno West, Losini Kamara and Chance Garvin. West is a big time scorer and while he will need to spend some time in the weight room, he has the potential to be a dangerous scorer off the bench. Scott Blakney, Jared Rodriguez and Cassius Smits-Francisco are the freshmen in the frontcourt. Blakney has the toughness and size to make an impact right away, but minutes will be difficult to come by for all of the freshmen.
Who to Watch:
Joining Callandret on the perimeter is a wealth of talent and no one is more talented than Victor Sanders. He averaged 20.9 points, 3.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.7 steals last year. When Callandret went down, Sanders was ready to take over as much as possible. The 6-5 senior flirted with the NBA and learned a few things about what the league is looking for him to improve upon during the 2017-2018 season. He does not need to improve on his shooting though. Sanders connected on 43.9 percent of his 230 three-point attempts. That is a lot of three-pointers, but Sanders also went to the charity stripe 201 times. He is not afraid to attack the basket, but if the opposition gives him room, he will make them pay from beyond the arc. For the most part it was Chad Sherwood who stepped into the starting lineup for Callandret last season. He will likely be moved to the bench this year where he will be a very dangerous shooter. Trevon Allen is one of the few non seniors or freshmen on the roster. The 6-2 sophomore is much like Callandret and Sanders since he can handle the ball and shoot it extremely effectively. The future of this team may be his, but he can do plenty of good things this season when Callandret or Sanders need a break. It may be difficult to keep Allen on the bench to start games, but Coach Verlin will probably call on Jordan Scott again to start at the three spot. He is not a great scorer, but at 6-6 and 200 pounds, he has good size for a small forward in the Big Sky.
Final Projection:
Scott can spend some time at the power forward position as well, but most of the minutes in the paint will be filled by Nate Sherwood, Arkadiy Mkrtychyan and Brayon Blake. Sherwood, a 6-8 junior forward, is a decent scorer who can stretch the defense with his mid-range jumper and also hit the glass. Sherwood is also the closest thing this team has to a shot blocking threat. Blake too can hit some outside shots. He also led the team with 6.1 rebounds and was second to Sanders in scoring with 10.0 points per game. Mkrtychyan emerged as an efficient interior scoring threat last season and averaged 8.3 points per game. With scorers both inside and outside, this is a Vandals team that can be very tough to defend. They are tough to score against too. With so much experience on the roster, this should be Idaho’s year to end their long tournament drought.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Victor Sanders, Senior, Guard, 20.9 points per game
Perrion Callandret, Senior, Guard, 8.0 points per game
Jordan Scott, Senior, Forward, 4.9 points per game
Nate Sherwood, Junior, Forward, 6.8 points per game
Arkadiy Mkrtychyan, Senior, Forward, 8.3 points per game
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 73.1 (178th in nation, 8th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 71.1 (141, 1)
Field-Goal Percentage: 43.3 (238, 10)
Field-Goal Defense: 41.5 (56, 1)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.7 (137, 6)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 36.7 (90, 5)
Free-Throw Percentage: 72.3 (108, 6)
Rebound Margin: 3.6 (68, 1)
Assists Per Game: 12.8 (224, 9)
Turnovers Per Game: (140, 7)