Head Coach Don Verlin
Don Verlin joined the University of Idaho family as head coach of the Vandal men’s basketball team in March 2008 and brought an immediate change to a struggling program.
In his eight seasons with the Vandals, Verlin has won more games than any previous coach at Idaho, including four top-three conference finishes, three CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournaments, one appearance in the College Basketball Invitational, a 2-3 record against Associate Press Top-25 opponents and a 66-36 (.647) record in home games. Additionally, Verlin’s players have earned eight all-WAC honors, one all-Big Sky honor, one NABC All-District honor, one WAC Player of the Year, one honorable mention All-American honor and seven have gone on to play professionally.
2015-16 proved to be one of the best years in program history, as Verlin led the Vandals to their first 20-win season in more than two decades. Idaho would go on to win 21 games, including one in the Big Sky Tournament against local rival Eastern Washington. Idaho finished the Big Sky season with a solid 12-6 record, despite battling a string of injuries midway through conference play, and took third. The 12 wins are the most by a Vandals squad since the 1989-90 season. The Vandals earned a bid to the College Basketball Invitational where they would eventually fall to Seattle U. It was the fourth postseason appearance for the Vandals under Verlin, the first since 2011-12. As a team, Idaho dominated the glass all season long. The Vandals finished the year 23rd in the nation in rebound margin at +7.2 per game. The squad was outrebounded just six times during the season and only once in conference play.
In 2014-15, Verlin led the Vandals back into the Big Sky Conference where they finished with a 13-17 overall mark, which includes an 8-10 record in league play and 0-1 in the post-season tournament. The year was marked by Connor Hill continuing as one of the nation’s best long-range shooters, as he knocked down a school-record 108 3s, and Mike Hill emerging as one of the NCAA leaders in assists and assist-to-turnover ratio. They were joined by Bira Seck as the only seniors on a team laden with underclassmen, but used their leadership to aid in the development of the youngsters into players Idaho could count on more and more as the season progressed. Hill and Scott both were honored by the league’s coaches as second team all-conference players. The 2014-15 squad set a school record for team 3s in a season with 236 (11 more than the previous record set by the 2006-07 team), an average of more than seven per game. That helped the Vandals account for the school’s third-highest scoring average in program history of 76.7 points per game.
In 2013-14, Verlin led the Vandals to a late-season charge that produced wins in six out of seven games, propelling Idaho to the WAC championship game. The Vandals defeated WAC regular-season champion Utah Valley in the conference semifinals to reach the program’s first conference championship game since 1990. Senior Stephen Madison averaged 19.9 points per game for the season to lead the WAC, and was a consensus first-team all-WAC selection. Off the court, Verlin and his Readers as Leaders campaign were honored at the 2014 Final Four with the NABC’s annual Literacy Champion Award, which recognizes the coach who has used the game of basketball, his program and his players to promote to children the importance of reading, writing and technological skills.
Verlin’s first year at Idaho saw the team earn one of the NCAA’s top turnarounds. The Vandals hadn’t produced a winning season in a decade and were picked to finish last in the WAC. Idaho went on to post a 17-16 overall record and a 9-7 WAC mark, finish third in the conference and earn its first postseason victory since 1982 at the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament. The team had a nine-win improvement and an RPI jump of 164 places.
In his second season at Idaho, the Vandals went 15-16 overall, picked up their first victory over a ranked opponent in nearly 30 years, won games at Utah, Seattle University and North Dakota State for the first time in school history and posted the biggest road win in the Idaho-Boise State rivalry series.
In Verlin’s third season in 2010-11, Idaho went 18-14 overall and again took third in the WAC with a 9-7 record. The Vandals qualified for postseason play a second time in the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament, put two players on the all-WAC squad and defeated a nationally ranked opponent for the second straight season.
In 2011-12, Idaho was picked to finish fifth in the WAC, but the team won seven of its final eight games and finished the year at 9-5 in conference play for a third-place finish. The Vandals were the only team to beat league champion Nevada during the regular season and, along with the Wolf Pack, were one of just two teams to beat every other WAC squad during the year. Idaho qualified for its third postseason appearance under Verlin with a berth in the CollegeInsider.com and knocked off UC Santa Barbara in the first round at Cowan Spectrum before falling in the second round.
The 2012-13 Vandals boasted the program’s first WAC Player of the Year in senior Kyle Barone, who also earned honorable mention All-America honors. The Vandals also improved to 5-0 on Senior Night and picked up their fourth BracketBuster win under Verlin.
Before Verlin, Idaho hadn’t beaten a ranked opponent since 1982, but the Vandals have two wins over ranked opponents in the last five seasons. He’s also the first Idaho coach since Larry Eustachy (1990-93) to reach 50 victories in just three seasons.
Since Verlin took over for the 2008-09 season, Idaho’s average final RPI ranking is 185, with a high of 137 and three years in the top-150 overall. In the previous seven seasons of Vandal basketball, Idaho didn’t crack the top 150 once and had an average final ranking of 270th in the rating system.
Also noteworthy under Verlin is that Idaho is 8-0 on Senior Night, 7-1 in home openers, and 26-6 in games played at Memorial Gym. Idaho’s 101-47 win over UC Irvine on Nov. 28, 2008 is the team’s largest ever over an NCAA Division I opponent, its 77-47 win over Louisiana Tech on Dec. 31, 2010 is the team’s largest over a WAC opponent and its 79-55 victory at Boise State on Feb. 6, 2010 is the team’s largest WAC road win.
Verlin also helped improve the culture of the program off the court by spearheading the Readers as Leaders program and participating in the YES Clinic. Readers as Leaders became a very successful program in its first year as the entire Idaho basketball program helped Moscow’s elementary-aged children find joy in reading. Since its inception, the total number of school and student participation in the program has increased significantly every year.
Prior to coming to Idaho, Verlin was the longest tenured assistant coach in Utah State history and had served under Aggie head coach Stew Morrill for 15 years, which includes their four years together at Colorado State University. The offensive guru for the Aggies, Verlin was a key component in Utah State’s nine successive post-season appearances and nine-successive 20-plus-win seasons. The Aggies were among the best shooting teams in the nation throughout his tenure. They led the NCAA in field goal percentage in 2005 and ranked in the top five nationally in four of his final five seasons with the team.
Prior to Utah State, Verlin spent two tenures at Colorado State, as he was an assistant at CSU during the 1992 season before moving to CSU Bakersfield for the 1993 and 1994 seasons. During his two seasons as an assistant in California, Bakersfield won back-to-back NCAA Division II national championships.
Verlin returned to Colorado State ahead of the 1995 season and then spent the next four seasons in Fort Collins. Prior to his first stint at Colorado State, Verlin was an assistant at Columbia (Calif.) Junior College from 1989-91. Columbia posted an 81-23 record in his three years there and won two conference championships.
Verlin graduated from Cal State Stanislaus with a degree in physical education in 1991. He earned a master’s degree in education from Colorado State in 1993. Born June 15, 1965 at Roseville, Calif., Verlin graduated from Del Oro High School at Loomis, Calif. He and his wife, the former Serena Shumway, have one son, Jacob, and one daughter, Sydnee. He also has a twin brother, Ron.
Assistant Coach Kirk Earlywine
Kirk Earlywine joined Idaho in 2012-13 as the team’s Director of Player Development. A 27-year college coaching veteran, Earlywine helps with individual skills development, film study and analysis and the planning of workouts and drills for the Vandals.
Before joining the Vandals, Earlywine was the head coach at Eastern Washington University for four years from 2007-11, during which time he registered a 42-78 record. In his time at EWU, the Eagles had a 964 APR score and a 100-percent graduation rate. His 2010-11 Eagle squad qualified for the Big Sky Tournament for the first time in five years, despite starting the season as one of the youngest teams in the country.
Earlywine also has a head coaching stop at Division II Pfeiffer University, which he led to a 21-8 overall record and a second-round appearance in the NCAA Tournament in the team’s first season at the D-II level.
His assistant coaching experience started in 1985-87 at Campbell University, where he was a student assistant. He was an assistant under head coach Rick Majerus for seven years at Ball State (1987-89) and Utah (1989-93) and was associate head coach at Weber State from 1999-06. In his time at WSU, the Wildcats led the Big Sky Conference with 116 victories, including a 2003 Big Sky title and NCAA Tournament bid.
Earlywine also held assistant positions at Central Michigan (1993-95), UW-Milwaukee (1996-99) and UNC Wilmington (2006-07). Earlywine spent the 2011-12 season doing television play-by-play and color commentary for men’s basketball games.
Earlywine is originally from Indianapolis, Indiana. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Physical Education from Campbell University in 1987.
Assistant Coach Tim Murphy
Tim Murphy joined the Idaho coaching staff in 2010-11 and has helped provide a boost to Idaho’s front line in his three seasons with the team.
In Murphy’s three years on staff, the Vandals have posted a 49-46 record and have twice finished third in the WAC and qualified for postseason play. In those seasons, Idaho also posted .500 or better single-game shooting performances 25 times, with a 23-2 record in such games.
His primary responsibilities lie with Idaho’s post players and in his two seasons, Murphy has already helped tutor 2012-13 WAC Player of the Year and honorable mention All-American Kyle Barone and 2011-12 WAC All-Newcomer Team selection Djim Bandoumel. Murphy also manages Idaho’s scheduling, in addition to scouting and recruiting duties.
Murphy owns 30 years of NCAA basketball coaching experience to the Vandal program. His most recent coaching stop before Idaho was as an assistant with Cal Poly from 2001-09.
In addition to his eight seasons at Cal Poly, Murphy also served as associate head coach at St. Mary’s for four seasons from 1997-2001. He also worked three years at Cal State San Bernardino, eight years at UC Irvine over two separate occasions, one year at Pacific Lutheran and two seasons at Colorado State.
Murphy’s has a strong record of individual player development throughout his career. He has coached six athletes who went on to NBA careers and 12 more who played professionally overseas.
In addition to his collegiate coaching experience, Murphy also served as head coach of the Western Samoa National Team in 1993 and led the country to its first and only gold medal at the Oceania Championships, which includes Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands.
Murphy was a letter winner from 1982-83 at Colorado State University and earned his degree from CSU in 1983 in Speech Communication. He and his wife, Sheri, have two daughters, Taylor and Ashley.
Assistant Coach Zac Claus
Zac Claus joins the Vandals after spending a decade at the University of Nevada. During his time with Nevada, Claus was an integral part of the Wolf Pack’s success on the court. In Claus’ 10 seasons, Nevada won four WAC regular season championships (2006, 2007, 2008, 2012) and made six postseason appearances.
Claus spent the last four seasons as an assistant coach with the Wolf Pack, helping in all areas of the program. Including recruiting, scouting and on the floor coaching, Claus was also in charge of scheduling and overseeing the program’s budget, team managers and equipment. He also coordinated the team’s academic progress, eligibility and served as the program’s liaison with NCAA Compliance.
Prior to taking over as an assistant, Claus served for six years as the director of basketball operations.
Claus spent three seasons as an assistant coach at Sacramento State prior to joining the Wolf Pack. Before that he spent two years at Portland State, with the first as director of basketball operations and the second as assistant coach.
Claus began his coaching career as the assistant varsity and head junior varsity coach at Nebraska Wesleyan during the 1998-99 season. He then worked as an assistant coach for Austin College for one season.
He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in communications from Eastern Washington in 1998, where he finished his playing career. Claus played two seasons with the Eagles after beginning his collegiate career at Creighton University and the University of Nebraska.
Claus and his wife, Toni, have three daughters, Peyton, Morgan and Addison.
Director of Men's Basketball Operations Brooks Malm
Brooks Malm takes over as the director of men’s basketball operations for the 2016-17 season. Malm previously served as a student assistant with the Vandals in 2015-16.
In his one year with the squad, the Vandals had their best year in recent memory. Idaho won 20 games for the first time since 1992-93 and took third in the Big Sky regular season standings at 12-6. The Vandals would advance to the semifinals of the Big Sky Tournament in Reno, and earned a bid to the 2016 College Basketball Invitational.
Prior to joining the Vandals, Malm spent one season on staff with Walla Walla Community College under head coach Jeff Reinland. There, Malm assisted in the coaching duties while also serving as a recruiting coordinator, primarily in the Pacific Northwest.
Malm was a successful player as well, competing at Walla Walla CC for one year after a four-year varsity career in his hometown of Troy, Idaho. Malm currently resides in Moscow.