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Vandals won’t seek invitation to secondary postseason tournament

UPDATED: Mon., March 12, 2018, 7:19 p.m.

Idaho basketball coach Don Verlin looks to his bench for help against Eastern Washington on  Jan. 12, 2018, in Cheney. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Idaho basketball coach Don Verlin looks to his bench for help against Eastern Washington on Jan. 12, 2018, in Cheney. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Correspondent

With five seniors who had a hand in Idaho winning 62 games over the past three seasons, but who were not of one mind that they had anything left to prove in a secondary postseason tournament, University of Idaho men’s basketball coach Don Verlin decided not to seek an invitation to the College Basketball Invitational or CollegeInsider Tournament this year.

“If it was the NIT, we surely would have gone,” he said. However, Idaho has competed in the CBI and CIT the past two seasons, and while those tournaments are “especially great for young programs,” for the senior-dominated Vandals this season, a desire to play in one of those tournaments again “wasn’t unanimous,” Verlin said. “At the end of the day, I made the decision.”

Other contributing factors to forgoing extending the season, Verlin pointed out, are that the UI would be on spring break during the opening round of postseason tournaments, which would present a daunting challenge to the university hosting a game. Also, after Idaho lost its sixth senior, guard Perrion Callandret, for the final three regular-season games and the Big Sky Conference Tournament with an injury “we’re a little nicked up. I had a lot of seniors who logged a lot of minutes,” Verlin said.

“These guys have been great to coach. We’ve had a heck of a run.

“We are all disappointed that at the end we did not meet our goals of going to the NCAA and winning the conference, but all in all it was a great year,” he said.

With their 22-9 record, the Vandals posted the seventh-most single-season wins in Idaho’s history. Finishing 14-4 in the Big Sky, the Vandals earned the second seed to the Big Sky tournament. Their season ended in the quarterfinals when they were upset by 10th seed Southern Utah, 92-78.

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