Wednesday, May 1, 2013.
The NFL Draft last week pre-empted some local nuggets of interest. ESPN.com’s Mark Schlabach has compiled his post-spring Way-Too-Early Preseason Top 25, and he moves Boise State from No. 22 to No. 21 (from his first Way-Too-Early Preseason Top 25). Schlabach’s analysis revolves around the importance of the cornerback spot as the Broncos try to replicate a defense that was No. 5 in the country against the pass last year and No. 8 in scoring defense. “Junior Bryan Douglas and sophomore Donte Deayon look like the next players in line,” writes Schlabach.
“But Douglas missed the spring while recovering from a torn ACL and Deayon missed part of the spring with a sprained ankle. Juco cornerback Cleshawn Page was pretty impressive this spring, and four more cornerbacks—juco transfer Mercy Maston and freshmen Jonathan Moxey, Dionza Blue and Cameron Hartsfield—join the competition this fall.” Pretty much sums it up. Boise State is the only non-BCS school on Schlabach’s list. He has Ohio State leapfrogging Alabama for No. 1.
It seems about one recruit each year who has committed to Boise State renegs and opts for another school. Once that happens, you usually don’t hear much of that guy anymore around here. But a news snippet on UCLA cornerback Marcus Rios, who decommitted from the Broncos’ 2012 class, bears mentioning. Rios is probably going to miss the entire season due to an extremely rare fungus infection between his eye and his brain. “Only 12 people have ever had it, and eight of them have died,” Rios told the L.A. Times. “Two others recovered and then died later.” Rios uses a catheter in his arm to take antibiotics, preventing him from practicing or running. Thoughts and prayers for Marcus Rios.
There’s some buzz out there about newly-released quarterback Tim Tebow ending up in Canada on the roster of the Montreal Alouettes, under former Boise State coach Dan Hawkins. Montreal owns Tebow's exclusive CFL negotiating rights, but Als general manager Jim Popp has words of caution. “I’m not out there enticing or trying to convince (Tebow) to come to Montreal, because he’s (not) going to be a starting quarterback,” Popp told the L.A. Times. “He would be coming to Montreal to be a backup player—to learn the game and, maybe, in the future, he’ll be able to compete for a starting job.” Popp says Hawkins is open to the idea of Tebow going north. But 40-year-old Anthony Calvillo, the CFL’s all-time leading passer, is entrenched as the Alouettes’ starting QB.
The Idaho Steelheads, down at one point two games-to-one to Ontario in the ECHL Western Conference semifinals, have once again demonstrated that they know how to win under first-year coach Brad Ralph. The Steelheads rallied to take the next three games in the series, dropping the Reign last night in Southern California, 5-3, to advance to the conference finals against the Stockton Thunder, who stunningly eliminated the Alaska Aces last night. Who stepped up this time? Rookie Austin Fyten scored a gargantuan goal with 5:22 left in the second period to give the Steelies a 4-2 advantage. And Brett Robinson scored twice, including an empty-netter with 29 seconds left when Ontario was desperately trying to save its season.
The Western Conference Finals begin Friday night in CenturyLink Arena. No matter that it’s Stockton instead of Alaska, Steelheads goalie Josh Robinson will have his game face on. And it’s a good look. Robinson wrapped up the semifinals with 31 saves in 34 attempts at Ontario last night. The Steelies’ season MVP stopped 102 of the Reign’s 106 shots on goal during the team’s three-game winning streak that ended the series.
The Boise State men’s tennis team goes intersectional to open the NCAA Tournament a week from Friday. The Broncos face Clemson in Knoxville, TN. This is the 16th NCAA Tournament appearance in Boise State history and the eighth in the last nine years. First round host Tennessee and South Carolina State are on the other side of the Broncos’ bracket in the round of 64. Boise State finished the regular season in a flurry. The Broncos were 3-7 on February 23 before winning 17 of their final 19 matches to go 20-9. The two losses were both 4-3 decisions against Stanford and BYU. BSU completed the turnaround with a thrilling victory in the Mountain West championship last Sunday.
It’s Opening Night at Les Bois Park this evening, with the track settling on 31 racing dates for the 2013 season. That may be a good number, allowing attendance to increase. Average attendance at Les Bois during the late-starting “honeymoon” season of 2011 was 3,900, including the record throng of 7,643 on the night the track re-opened after sitting dark for two seasons. Last season the average was 3,600 over 36 racing dates. This year there’ll be a balance between supply and demand, and hopefully that number will rise.
I can’t recall the last time a former Boise Hawk was named American (or National) League Player of the Week, but Josh Donaldson has captured the latest AL honor. Donaldson hit a robust .545 for Oakland last week with seven doubles, 10 RBIs, seven walks, four runs and a stolen base. He raised his batting average 73 points, from .246 to .319. Donaldson is finally in a comfort zone, having moved to third base from catcher a year ago right now. The former Auburn star was a Hawks mainstay in 2007, when he hit .346 with nine home runs after being selected in the first round of the Major League draft by the Chicago Cubs. Donaldson was traded to the A’s organization five years ago as Oakland as part of the deal that sent Rich Harden to the Cubs.
Remember at the end of March when word was New Mexico coach Steve Alford told UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero something to the effect of, “You’d better hire me now, before the buyout in my new contract kicks in?” Well, Guerrero did, and now Alford is offering to pay the $200,000 buyout on his old contract—and not the $1 million on his new deal. Alford resigned just two days before his brand new 10-year contract with the Lobos was to kick in. New Mexico claims it’s owed the one-mill because Alford’s previous contract required a 30-day notice of termination, which would have carried 28 days into the new contract.
In case you missed this, the Philadelphia 76ers have purchased the dormant Utah Flash D-League franchise and will relocate it to Delaware, where the team will be known as the “87ers” in a nod to the year (1787) that Delaware became the first state to ratify the U.S. Constitution. So you’ll have the Sixers and what will be known as the Sevens. That means 11 of the 17 D-League teams will now have just one NBA parent club—and 19 NBA clubs will have to share the remaining six D-League affilates. It gives Philly’s front office some focus, as the Sixers shared an affiliation with Sioux Falls last season with the Heat, Timberwolves and Magic.
This Day In Sports…May 1, 1920:
Both Joe Oeschger of the Boston Braves and Leon Cadore of the Brooklyn Robins pitch all 26 innings in a game that is called because of darkness with the score knotted at 1-all. The two pitchers each set a major league record for longest appearance in a single game. Amazingly, the 26-inning contest lasted just under four hours, and reportedly only four baseballs were used for the entire game.
(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.)