Friday, January 25, 2013.
Boise State is bracing for the most adversity-laden stretch of its 2012-13 basketball season when it faces Nevada tomorrow afternoon. The Broncos aren’t missing four players due to suspension like they were two weeks ago. They’re just missing one: Jeff Elorriaga. Boise State won’t truly be at full strength until Elorriaga plays full-time, and the junior guard and floor leader won’t play at all tomorrow in Reno due to continuing concussion concerns—and might not for some time. The Broncos lose some invaluable intangibles with Elorriaga out and will need Derrick Marks to be mature, Anthony Drmic to be on point, and Ryan Watkins to be his new self. Watkins has averaged more than 11 rebounds per game over his last 10 outings and is second in the Mountain West in offensive rebounds.
Remember how Boise State’s maiden basketball season in the Mountain West began? The Broncos were 0-7 in conference last winter before they finally broke through for a victory. This season they know the drill and have a hard-fought 2-2 record in league play. For Nevada, it’s the first time through, and the Wolf Pack is 1-3 after a 78-57 pounding at the hands of San Diego State in the Lawlor Events Center Wednesday night. The Pack is not playing with confidence offensively, and fans are not being entertained. Basketball was actually the more popular sport at Nevada during most of the first decade of the new century, as Trent Johnson and Mark Fox led the Wolf Pack to NCAA Tournament berths. They’re desperately trying to keep the feeling alive in Reno.
You'll recall Doug Farrar of Yahoo.com doubting Boise State cornerback Jamar Taylor’s abilities at Senior Bowl practices. Farrar acknowledges you can’t always go by first impressions. “On Thursday, I started to see Taylor as more of an ideal slot cornerback,” wrote Farrar last night. “And in today's NFL, where nickel defense is a base defense among many teams, slot corners are basically starters. Taylor's ability to keep up in pattern-read coverage and mix it up over the middle convinced me that he might be a mid-round steal in that role.” Russ Lande of NationalFootballPost.com had Taylor as one of “13 players who finished with a bang.” The Senior Bowl itself will kick off at 1 p.m. tomorrow on the NFL Network.
Our former Bronco NFLer of the Day is Chris Carr, who missed playing in the Super Bowl by a scant year. Carr was a cornerback for the Baltimore Ravens last season. Last winter he signed as a free agent with Minnesota, was released at the end of training camp, and then caught on midseason with San Diego. Carr was used sparingly by the Chargers, registering just four tackles in nine games. He also returned five kickoffs and two punts. After eight NFL seasons, it’s crossroads time for Carr, who turns 30 in April.
I liked the AP story on the Chicago Cubs’ efforts to sign Colin Kaepernick after they drafted him in the 43rd round in 2009. Of course, he stuck with football at Nevada and will now lead the San Francisco 49ers into Super Bowl XLVII a week from Sunday. I talked about it back then—had Kaepernick given pro baseball a try, he probably would have been assigned to the Boise Hawks in the summer of 2009. But he already had a trip scheduled to the blue turf in November of that year—he surely didn’t want to spend any more time in the city of Boise than he had to.
In case you missed this John Patrick discovery on KTIK this week, 1983 Kuna High School grad Michael Christianson is primed for a Super Bowl experience with the 49ers. Christianson is in his second season with the Niners as an offensive assistant and coordinator of football technology. He was coach Jim Harbaugh’s tight ends coach at the University of San Diego and has also made coaching stops with Tampa Bay’s 2002 Super Bowl championship team, Montana State and Portland State, among others. The 47-year-old Christianson played three seasons at Western Oregon.
Hard to believe, but the Idaho Steelheads will see a familiar face when they go into unfamiliar territory at South Carolina tonight. Stingrays goalie Ryan Zapolski was in training camp with the Steelheads before being released in October. Zapolski stopped 37 of 38 shots for the Steelies in their lone pre-season game at home against Utah. He was also the Most Valuable Player at Wednesday night’s ECHL All-Star Game after making 17 saves in one period of work. Tomorrow and Sunday the Steelheads visit Gwinnett, where they expect to see some members of the Augusta RiverHawks booster club pulling for them. Steelheads coach Brad Ralph led the Southern Professional Hockey League club last season, and current Steelies Ian Watters and William Lacasse played for Augusta.
The Idaho Stampede have played an inordinate number of games versus Austin this season, considering the Toros are in the D-League’s Central Division. The Stampede venture into that territory again tonight, trying to improve on a 1-4 record against the defending D-League champions. The Stamps play at Texas tomorrow night—with a 126-109 loss at Rio Grande Valley Wednesday night, the Legends have now lost seven in a row.
Graham DeLaet is off to his best start in a tournament this season after firing a four-under 68 yesterday in the first round of the Farmers Insurance Open in La Jolla, CA. The Boise State product birdied four of the last six holes on the Torrey Pines North Course and is just three shots off the lead. DeLaet is trying to build on the modest momentum from the Humana Challenge last week, when he played the weekend for the first time this season.
The Jacksons Indoor Track at the Idaho Center in Nampa is always packed with activity this time of the year. Today and tomorrow Boise State hosts one of its biggest meets of the indoor season, the Jacksons Invitational, in conjunction with the New Balance West meet for high school and junior high competitors. The Broncos will be joined by Idaho State, Nevada, Sacramento State, UC Irvine, Utah State and Weber State, as the College of Idaho, Northwest Nazarene, Treasure Valley Community College, Academy of Art, and Cal State Stanislaus.
This Day In Sports…January 25, 1971:
Boise State turns in its highest-scoring basketball game ever in a 118-96 win over Portland State in Bronco Gym. Bronco scoring leader Ron Austin led the way with 41 points, still one of only three 40-point games in Boise State history. Austin would go on to average 24½ points a game in 1970-71, still a school record.
(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.)