Wright State (0-0) at Idaho (0-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, Nov. 9, 10:05 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Memorial Gym (2,500) -- Moscow, Idaho. Television: None. Home Record: Wright State 0-0, Idaho 0-0. Away Record: Wright State 0-0, Idaho 0-0. Neutral Record: Wright State 0-0, Idaho 0-0. Conference Record: Wright State 0-0, Idaho 0-0. Series Record: Wright State leads, 1-0.
GAMES NOTES: Trying to regroup from the loss of a number of key contributors the Idaho Vandals' quest for a third straight postseason berth will get underway this evening, when the Wright State Raiders come to Memorial Gym.
The Raiders had a streak of their own going before last season's 13-19 squad. That mark gave Wright State its first losing season in five years and the first under Billy Donlon. That's not to say that Donlon has had a long history with the squad as this is just his third season at the helm for the Raiders.
For the first time since 1999, Idaho finished with a winning record for the second straight season. The team also accomplished a feat that has happened four times in school history, earning a postseason berth for the second consecutive season as well. In his four years with the Vandals, Don Verlin has molded a team that has been competitive with win totals of at least 15 games in each year.
What this series lacks in history it makes up for in intrigue. Meeting for the first time last season, Wright State pulled out an 80-78 victory in overtime in a game that featured nine ties and 16 lead changes. The difference was a three-pointer that beat the buzzer of overtime from the Raiders' Julius Mays.
Mays won't be around this season for Wright State which is troubling considering he earned Horizon League Newcomer of the Year honors while leading the team in scoring (14.1 ppg). Mays transferred to Kentucky. Losing such a proven offensive commodity would hurt any team but it will be an especially tough pill to swallow for the Raiders. Last season Wright State scored only 58 points per game which was better than only 12 other teams at the Division I level. The team also shot a paltry 39.8 percent from the floor and rebounded at a low level (28.2 rpg). The team's efforts on the glass bested just four teams in the country. Reggie Arceneaux (8.5 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 2.1 apg) is the lead returning scorer and may be counted on to fill Mays' shoes in the backcourt. The scoring may actually begin coming from the inside, particularly from A.J. Pacher (5.4 ppg). Increased minutes should up that production but the 6-10 forward also has to be better on the boards (3.4 rpg). Another proven commodity that returns is Cole Darling (6.3 ppg) although for a forward he needs to shoot from the floor better (.394).
Verlin really excelled in molding his team offensively, with Idaho ranked 18th in the nation in field goal percentage (.477). Unfortunately, three of the starters from that team are gone including top-scorer and three-point marksman Deremy Geiger (12.9 ppg, 87-of-131 3P field goals). Geiger was the only double figure scorer who left though which should ease the pain quite a bit. Kyle Barone (12.9 ppg, 8.0 rpg) tied for the team lead in scoring and was a strong presence inside. He can scored efficiently (54.8 FG percentage) as well as rebound and protect the rim (1.5 bpg). He could provide a real test for Pacher on the inside. Also back in the mix is Stephen Madison (12.1 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 2.1 apg), who provides a great deal beyond scoring with his ability to rebound and distribute.
With Verlin at the helm Idaho may be in for yet another strong season this year and that will begin against a Wright State team that looks to be headed in the other direction. If Madison can turn into a consistent and dangerous offensive threat, the Vandals will be just fine.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Idaho 68, Wright State 58
11/09 10:35:15 ET