Friday, February 17, 2017.
It must be nice for Boise State to be home in Taco Bell Arena tomorrow to face Wyoming. The Pit can be a tumultuous scene—on many counts. Not only did the Broncos lose 78-73 to New Mexico on Tuesday, there was a mini-brouhaha right afterward. You may have seen Boise State assistant Phil Beckner yell something at Lobos coach Craig Neal in the handshake line, with Neal yelling something back. The Albuquerque Journal reports the Mountain West office has been in contact with both schools about that incident as well as the elbow UNM star Elijah Brown threw at the Broncos’ James Reid midway through the second half. “Neal and Beckner were seen being very vocal during the review of Brown’s flagrant foul, either toward each other or toward the referees standing between the benches,” wrote the Journal’s Geoff Grammer.
Boise State is capable of scoring in bunches. You never would have believed it after the Broncos’ 25-point first half in Albuquerque. However, after New Mexico took a 71-60 lead with 1:25 remaining in the game Tuesday night, the Broncos scored 13 points in 56 seconds. Wyoming knows something about that after its experience in Laramie three weeks ago. Boise State built an 18-point lead while scoring 42 first-half points and cruised to an 80-65 victory. Part of the reason was depth, as the Broncos had nine players who logged 14 or more minutes. Depth is something the Cowboys bring as well, though. They are deep enough that their two leading scorers, Justin James and Hayden Dalton, both come off the bench.
There really should be a footnote to Obij Aget’s performance for New Mexico Tuesday night. The 7-1 center scored 14 points, pulled down six rebounds and blocked five shots, and he appeared to be having his way with Boise State post David Wacker. But truth be told, most of Aget’s damage was done in the first half, and Wacker settled down after the break. Wacker was scoreless during the first 20 minutes while Aget was pouring in 10 dunk-dominated points. In the second half, the sophomore from Converse, TX, scored 12 points and was drawing fouls, allowing him to go 6-for-6 from the free throw line. Wacker, despite foot problems that require him to be spelled occasionally, has been garnering more and more floor time. He’s improved immensely over the past two months, going more aggressively to the rim and the boards.
USA Today’s Steven Ruiz this week posted a group of “25 big-name players who could get cut in the next month,” and two of them are Boise State alums. Ruiz made New York Jets left tackle Ryan Clady is No. 9 on his list, writing, “The Jets need to cleanse the roster of overpaid veterans, and the oft-injured Clady seems to be a good place to start.” He was right. Clady is out with the Jets. At No. 15 is Tampa Bay running back Doug Martin. Writes Ruiz, “Martin’s off-the-field issues should make this an easy decision for the Buccaneers. He’s a running back with two productive seasons under his belt and he gets paid like a top-10 back. The Muscle Hamster’s time in Tampa is done.” Martin was suspended for four games in late December for violating the NFL’s drug policy and voluntarily entered rehab.
The Idaho Steelheads play their next eight games on the road, starting tonight in West Valley City. Utah is looking up at the Steelheads in the ECHL Mountain Division standings, but the Steelies are surely looking over their shoulders at the Grizzlies. This might not be the best time to be catching the Griz. Utah is five points back of the Steelheads going into the President’s Day weekend series and has momentum, having won nine of its last 10 games. Furthermore, the Grizzlies have beaten Idaho seven times in eight tries this season. A plus for the Steelies: goaltender Landon Bow has won nine of his last 11 starts.
The Genesis Open teed off yesterday at Riviera Country Club. Will there be a Boise State alum to follow this weekend? Troy Merritt has a shot. He’s on the bubble to make the cut after turning in a one-under 70 in the first round. Graham DeLaet will need a miracle today in order to play on—he carded a two-over 73 yesterday. Not all the golfers finished before darkness suspended play. But the leader in the clubhouse is Sam Saunders, the late Arnold Palmer’s grandson, who made his pro debut on a sponsor’s exemption in the 2009 Albertsons Boise Open.
Two former Idaho Stampede players have been selected for the D-League All-Star Game. Pierre Jackson, now with the Texas Legends, and Justin Harper, now an L.A. D-Fender, will suit up Saturday in New Orleans. Two other ex-Stamps, Reggie Hearn of Reno and Kevin Murphy of Grand Rapids, will join Jackson in the three-point shooting contest. Former Boise State and Stampede standout Coby Karl will be coaching the West All-Stars after leading the D-Fenders to the D-League’s best record this season. Nobody from the team that used to be the Stampede, the Salt Lake City Stars, is slated for the game or any of the All-Star activities this weekend.
More hoops doings: the Boise State women are decided underdogs tomorrow in Laramie when they take on Wyoming. The Cowgirls are in second place in the Mountain West and will be out to avenge a 64-54 loss last month in Taco Bell Arena. The Broncos do have some momentum, though, after their last-second victory over New Mexico Wednesday night.
The Idaho men have one game this week, and it’s a key Big Sky matchup tonight at Eastern Washington. College of Idaho, peaking at the right time, took care of Eastern Oregon 91-79 last night. The Coyotes host Walla Walla for Senior Night tomorrow. Among those being honored is Melba’s Joey Nebeker, the one-time Bronco who scored 34 points in two games last week to improve his career total to 1,285 points, one of the top 10 numbers in Yotes history. And NNU downed Simon Fraser 88-82 last night. The Crusaders’ Senior Night is tomorrow against Western Washington.
At the Mountain West Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships, Boise State goes into the final two days with a 105.5-point lead over defending champion Nevada. And the College of Idaho baseball team has a surprise homestand Sunday and Monday, thanks to continued West Coast weather chaos. See if you can follow this. The Coyotes were initially slated to host Bethesda in a four-game weekend series, then had the games moved to California due to field conditions at Wolfe Field. A deluge in Southern California has canceled that trip. However, warm temperatures in the Treasure Valley have helped Wolfe Field get into shape—and the Yotes are set to play doubleheaders Sunday against Division II Central Washington and Monday versus defending NAIA national champion Lewis-Clark State.
This Day In Sports…February 17, 1967, 50 years ago today:
Philadelphia’s Wilt Chamberlain hits his first field goal attempt in a 127-118 win over the Cincinnati Royals. Chamberlain wouldn’t miss another try until February 28, as he set an NBA record with 35 consecutive made field goals over the next four games. Wilt The Stilt would also break the NBA season record for shooting percentage at 68.3 percent and would win his third MVP award—and his first NBA title with the Sixers.
(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment Sunday nights at 10:30PM on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 The Ticket. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)