[Vandal] Idaho To Open ICCU Arena With Familiar Face

robiegruss at aol.com robiegruss at aol.com
Mon Aug 23 10:07:23 PDT 2021

>From The Lewiston TribuneLewiston, IdahoSaturday, August 21, 2021
Idaho To Open ICCU Arena With Familiar Face
Vandal men to take on LBSU, Dan Monson, son of legendary Idaho coach, on Nov. 10
Legendary Idaho men’s basketball coach Don Monson, second from left, after an NCAA tournament game in 1981. The Vandals will open the new Idaho Central Credit Union Arena on Nov. 10 by playing Long Beach State, which is coached by Monson’s son, Dan. Tribune file photo
By Donn Walden 
MOSCOW — A familiar face will be on the opposing sideline when the Idaho men’s basketball team christens its new facility this year.
It was announced Friday the Vandals have agreed to a contract to bring in Long Beach State coach Dan Monson to open the regular season and Idaho Central Credit Union Arena, on Nov. 10.
Dan Monson is the son of legendary Idaho coach Don Monson. Dan Monson has been the coach of the 49ers for the past 13 seasons.
“When we initially discussed an opening game in the ICCU Arena, it was (associate head coach) Doug Novsek that had the idea to play Long Beach State and I am so thankful that he did,” Idaho coach Zac Claus said in a news release. “It will enable us to embrace our history within the program and reflect back on the amazing impact and success that coach Don Monson had here at Idaho. Coach Monson has continued to be supportive of our staff and I have thoroughly enjoyed my opportunities to speak with him.”
Don Monson coached the Vandals from 1978-83, guding the team to a 100-41 mark and a 47-23 record in the Big Sky Conference. The Idaho Hall of Fame charter member’s teams in 1980-81 and 1981-82 left an indelible mark on school history.
Idaho went 25-4 overall and 12-2 in the conference in 1980-81, winning the Big Sky tournament title and earning the school’s first NCAA tournament bid. The Vandals, who were the No. 7 seed in the West Region in what was then a 48-team field, lost in a 70-69 heartbreaker to Pittsburgh in the first round in El Paso, Texas.
But the next year was more historic. Idaho won its first 16 games of the season and achieved its highest ranking in the school’s existence, soaring to No. 6 in the Associated Press and United Press International polls.
The Vandals completed the regular season 24-2, beating all four Pac-10 teams from the Northwest, downing Gonzaga for a third consecutive season and winning the eight-team Far West Classic in Portland, Ore., defeating Iowa State, Oregon State and Oregon by 19 or more points.
The lone losses for Idaho during the regular season came in back-to-back fashion by two points in late January. The first came on Jan. 23, 1982, when a tip-in lifted Montana to a stunning 53-51 victory in Missoula. The next was just as epic, as the Vandals went to South Bend, Ind., and faced off against future NBA star John Paxson and the Fighting Irish on Jan. 25. Playing its third game in four days and having to endure multiple travel issues, Idaho landed at 4:30 a.m. on game day. It didn’t affect them, as the Vandals rushed out to a 28-10 lead. However, Idaho only had four free throws in the final 45 minutes of the game, missing them all, and it was costly as Notre Dame won 50-48.
The Vandals won their next eight games, mostly with ease, to head into the NCAA tournament 26-2 after getting past Nevada in the Big Sky tournament title game.
Idaho, which finished with No. 8 ranking, earned the No. 3 seed in the West Region and got a first-round bye in the NCAA.
Playing a de facto home game on March 14, 1982, at Beasley Coliseum in Pullman, the Vandals slipped by No. 6 seed Iowa, and legendary coach Lute Olson, to advance to the Sweet 16 four days later in Provo, Utah.
Their opponent? The Beavers, a team Idaho waxed 71-49 on Dec. 28, 1981, in that Far West Classic. This time, Oregon State was up for the challenge, winning 60-42, thus ending the Vandals’ magical season at 27-3.
In what turned out to be Don Monson’s final season in Moscow, the Vandals went 20-9 overall, tying for third in the conference and earning a bid in the NIT before being eliminated by that same Oregon State team.
On March 21, 1983, Don Monson announced his resignation to take the job at Oregon. He didn’t have as much success with the Ducks, going 116-145 in his nine seasons there before being replaced. He coached one more season with the Adelaide 36ers in the National Basketball League in Australia.
Before taking over at Idaho, he spent nine seasons each as boys’ basketball coach at Cheney and Pasco high schools, then was an assistant for longtime friend and mentor Jud Heathcote and Michigan State.
Dan Monson, a 1980 graduate of Moscow High School, played football at Idaho for one season before suffering a knee injury that ended his playing career. He started to focus more then on coaching.
He was an assistant for three seasons at UAB before coming back to the Northwest and beginning an 11-season run at Gonzaga, helping to build the foundation for a national powerhouse in Spokane. Dan Monson was an assistant from 1988-97, recruiting many of the players who turned the program around.
He became the top guy at Gonzaga in 1997, and in two seasons he was 52-17 and guided the Zags to the school’s first appearance in the Elite Eight in 1999.
Dan Monson then was lured away by Minnesota, but he never saw the success in the Big Ten that he did in the West Coast Conference. Dan Monson went 118-106 in seven full seasons with just one NCAA tournament appearance in 2005. He resigned on Nov. 30, 2006.
Just six months later, Dan Monson landed on his feet and was named the coach at Long Beach State. The 49ers showed steady improvement early in his regime and topped out in 2012 with an appearance in the NCAA tournament. During a three-year run from 2010-13, Long Beach State went 66-35 with Big West Conference titles in all three seasons.
A year ago, Dan Monson’s team went 6-12 overall and was 4-8 in the conference.
“To bring back coach Dan Monson ... will make it even that much more special of a night,” Claus said. “I know that Dan has an immense amount of pride in this university and community, and he was quick to welcome the chance to bring his team here to open the season and this amazing building. We are all very much looking forward to this meaningful night.”
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