Moscow, ID– Even playing on their home court Thursday night Idaho had problems shooting which led to another conference loss to Utah Valley. The Wolverines had no trouble scoring, they shot 46% from the field, went 8-of-17 (47.1 percent) from beyond the arc and 17-of-23 (73.9 percent) from the foul-line.
Utah Valley was led in scoring by Utah State transfer Mitch Bruneel (6’5, JR, F) with 18 points, eight rebounds (six offensive) on 6-of-9 FG shooting (2-of-3 3pt and 4-of-4 FT). Bruneel possess a lot of athletic ability and long arms that allow him to play above the rim, create a tough match-up for opposing defenders and to be an effective defender. Hel showed good patience and decision making on offense by not forcing shots, taking care of the ball and hitting open shots.
Bruneel got help from sophomore junior college transfer Garrity Hayes (6’1, SG/PG) who chipped in 14 points and freshman forward Zach Nelson’s (6’7) 12 points, seven rebounds and four assists. Hayes showed that he can be a solid point guard who makes good decisions, defends well and can hit open shots from mid-range and 3pt range on or off the dribble. Nelson has good athleticism and length to go with his versatile abilities as a player. Nelson is an effective low-post player that can step out and hit open shots, penetrate, finish, help bring up the ball against full-court pressure and defend both the post and perimeter. Defensively on the night, Nelson did an excellent job of not letting Idaho’s top scoring player Stephen Madison get into his typical scoring rhythm.
Bruneel and Nelson are two players that professional teams world-wide should monitor closely, because of their athletic ability and sound fundamental skills.
Senior small forward Madison (6’5, 202) who struggled offensively in the first half (five points) to get into a rhythm due to Nelson’s sound defense, was able to finish with 21 points and eight rebounds to lead the Vandals. Madison who again showed he has a nice touch around the basket, the ability to draw contact and get to the foul-line or finish. Madison also has nice turn-and-face low post moves that go well with excellent spin and finish moves off penetration. Two concerning aspect to Madison’s game is his free-throw shooting and being very right-hand dominate.
Junior shooting guard Connor Hill (6’2, 190) dropped 19 points for the Vandals. Hill went 7-of-15 from the field and 4-of-4 from the foul-line, but struggled from 3pt range only hitting 1-of-6 shots. The Vandals as a team shot only 37.9 percent on 22-of-58 shooting (2-of-16 3pt and 20-of-29 FT) for the game. The Vandals did outscore the Wolverines 40-37 in the second half, but not having any effective 3pt shooting and inconsistent low-post play besides Madison, made it very hard for the Vandals to sustain any competitive scoring runs.
Utah Valley moves to 3-0 in WAC play and 9-7 overall. Idaho drops to a 1-4 WAC record and 7-12 overall on the season.
Eric Stang is a Correspondent and Scout for NetScouts Basketball.