| March 22, 2018

M. Basketball Commentary: Missing the Magic

The Idaho men’s basketball team that stepped onto the court against Washington State Wednesday night was not the team that I’ve seen in the past.

Sloppy mistakes littered the floor — all easily correctable. The team’s chemistry on the court was not on point.

I thought the game would have had a tighter ending, comparing the box scores.

With the Vandals’ 26 percent from the field paled in comparison to the Cougars’ 39 percent, Idaho dominated the boards. But, the Vandals collected 42 rebounds compared to Washington State’s 40.

Idaho junior Victor Sanders led both teams in scoring with 18 points. Idaho’s bench outscored Washington State’s 19-7. Idaho outscored Washington State in the paint 22-18, and led the floor in steals 10-3.

So how did Idaho end its streak against Washington State?

There was no rhythm on the floor, and once again the Vandals suffered from communication failures.

For instance, in the first half, junior Brayon Blake collected a rebound and searched frantically for an outlet down the court.

Spotting Sanders on the perimeter, Blake made the pass — only to find it bouncing off Sander’s heel as he booked it down the floor, unaware of Blake’s pass.

This led to a turnover, which led to a foul, a drained Cougar free throw and an extended lead.

Idaho had 14 total turnovers, following a growing trend, and experienced foul trouble throughout the game. Blake and Sanders both earned four personal fouls by the end of the game to contribute to the team’s 21 total.

All of this caused a disconnect on the floor, something that has plagued the Vandals in the last couple weeks.

At the beginning of the season, I thought Blake filled the role of communicator on the court. He took charge from the start, and the team seemed to follow suit.

But now, I’m not so sure. While Blake may be the most talkative man on the floor, he may not be what the Vandals need to start stitching everything together.

They have the skills — the team just needs a little push to reach its full potential..

Luckily, there is still time for the Vandals to get their affairs in order before taking on Big Sky opponents.

Mihaela Karst can be reached at arg-sports@uidaho.edu or on Twitter @mihaela_jo

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