On Sunday night passion and emotion played a noticeable factor in the Memorial Gym, but the Idaho basketball team stayed poised. Now, all eyes are on Nevada.
Senior forward Arkadiy Mkrtychyan said head coach Don Verlin puts a lot of weight on staying composed at all times. Regardless of poor calls and other distracting factors, Idaho had to overcome.
“To keep an above the line behavior,” Mkrtychyan said. “Our coach tells us that is the emphasis this year.”
Early in the game, it was clear Lewis-Clark State was going test the Vandals’ composure. The Warriors and Vandals swapped words almost immediately. But as the game neared the end, things got more physical.
Senior forward Brayon Blake sailed to the rim to throw down a dunk but was maliciously fouled. Nothing came from the altercation, though it was evident Blake was not pleased. He even refused the help of a defender.
That foul wasn’t the only time tension was present. After a Warriors player attempted and missed a flashy dunk, the Idaho crowd went crazy. Blake didn’t take long to reaffirm the fact that this is their home court.
“I wasn’t going to let him come into this house and do that,” Blake said. “It’s not going to happen.”
In the midst of the mayhem, Blake and Mkrtychyan stayed level-headed. The duo made their presence known with the ball rather than their mouth. They accounted for 38 of the Vandals points.
Both seniors should get ample amount of playing time this season. If Sunday’s exhibition is representing of what’s to come, Blake and Mkrtychyan’s veteran leadership could pay dividends for the Vandals going forward.
“One year left,” Mkrtychyan said.
Zack Ozuna can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @OzunaZack21