Heading into the season, Idaho coach Don Verlin spoke frequently of his nine or 10 returning players and the flow of continuity they provided.
Now, with the Vandals riding a five-game winning streak, he’s taking the opposite tack, emphasizing the qualities that make this team different from its predecessor.
And it truly needs to be different this weekend.
The Vandals travel 75 miles north to play a game Saturday (1 p.m., 630 AM) against Eastern Washington, which was more responsible than anyone for spoiling Idaho’s return season to the Big Sky last year.
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The Vandals’ 0-3 record against the Eagles included a nightmarish 98-95 OT loss at Cheney and a 91-83 loss in the first round of the Big Sky Tournament.
“This is a new Vandals team,” Verlin said.
In bidding farewell to 2014-15 guards Connor Hill, Mike Scott and Sekou Wiggs, the Vandals lost 42 points and countless pretty passes a game. But newly prominent guards Perrion Callandret, Victor Sanders and Chad Sherwood have been good for 37 points a contest, and aren’t giving up as many at the other end.
Idaho (10-5, 2-0) is holding opponents to 40 percent shooting.
“We’re a lot better defensively than we’ve been in the past,” Verlin said.