Thursday, February 28, 2013.
As the spread widened in the Boise State-Nevada game last night, I got to thinking that it was way out of the ordinary in a series that the Wolf Pack has dominated. Not only was the Broncos’ 73-47 win their first at home over the Pack in five years, it was their second-largest margin of victory over Nevada ever—anywhere. And the biggest in 25 years. Boise State beat the Wolf Pack 89-61 in 1987-88, the program’s best season ever. The double-teaming Bronco defense made a little history of its own, allowing Nevada just 10 field goals the entire game, the fewest by a Bronco opponent in at least 21 years. Now, as coach Leon Rice said on his KBOI postgame show, “the rubber meets the road” when Colorado State comes to town for the “black-out” Saturday night.
Anthony Drmic continues to tear it up for Boise State. The Australian sophomore burned an opponent in the second half yet again last night, scoring 19 of his game-high 26 points after the intermission. He has scored 65 points in the last three second halves. During one second-half stretch of nearly 11 minutes, Drmic had 17 of Boise State's 22 points as the Broncos' lead reached 22 points. Meanwhile, Derrick Marks had another one of those games, totaling only seven points but helping everyone else shine. Marks led Boise State with eight assists and four steals and added seven rebounds (the only drawback was six turnovers). It seems like the sophomore star is just layin’ in the weeds, waiting for his next chance to put up a 30-spot.
Nevada is a team clearly lacking chemistry, as coach David Carter has been down on his players in a very public way this season. The frustration of things he has no control over morphs into his view of the team. Such as playing on the road, where the Wolf Pack was 10-3 last year as a WAC school but is 2-10 this season as a Mountain West member. “You take our team last year and we were able to win on the road in the WAC because the venues aren’t as tough,” Carter told the Reno Gazette-Journal. “It wasn’t as intimidating. When you go to Louisiana Tech or San Jose State or Idaho, there really isn’t a homecourt advantage. In this league, it’s totally different.” And that was before he ran into the Boise State buzzsaw last night.
Former Boise State cornerback Jamar Taylor (we have to call him “former” now) is back in Boise to continue his prep for April’s NFL Draft. Taylor was on Idaho SportsTalk yesterday but didn’t want to speculate on which teams may be interested in him after his strong performance at the NFL Combine. “I’m going to keep grinding, and we’ll see when the draft comes,” said Taylor. He’ll set up his training regimen with Boise State strength and conditioning coach Tim Socha—and come up with a plan for defensive back drills on Pro Day March 21 with Bronco secondary coach Jimmy Lake. Taylor was the one least pleased about his high marks in Indianapolis. But friends and family were excited. "I had probably like 50-something (text messages),” Taylor told the San Diego Union-Tribune, his hometown newspaper. “The most I ever had."
Don Banks’ newest mock NFL Draft at SI.com is interesting as it relates to Taylor. Banks has moved Washington cornerback Desmond Trufant, who Taylor saw in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas, into the first round as the No. 28 overall pick going to Denver. “With a blazing 4.38 time in the 40 at the combine, Trufant might have run his way into the lower reaches of the first round,” writes Banks. Taylor’s 4.39 in the 40 would have to be considered blazing as well, wouldn’t it? But he had those 22 reps in the bench press as a bonus. Perhaps we should say Taylor might have lifted himself into the second round.
Every situation is different, and Hawaii’s situation at Aloha Stadium has changed a lot. The Warriors will not raise its football ticket prices this year in an effort to win back disenchanted fans. "We're not increasing prices, that's for sure,” new athletic durector Ben Jay told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, which used a photo of the skimpy crowd at the Boise State game last November to accompany the story. “But I want to look at (whether) we need to lower some prices in some areas," said Jay. How about these attendance apples: Hawaii’s crowd count has dropped 26 percent the past two seasons to 25,573—the lowest level since the 0-12 season of 1998. Football ticket revenue dropped approximately $1.2 million from 2011. At the height of their popularity, the Warriors averaged 42,915 per game in 1984.
It’s a good thing there are no shootouts in the Kelly Cup Playoffs, because the Idaho Steelheads would be rendered helpless. The Steelheads came up empty six times in a shootout last night and fell to Utah 3-2 in CenturyLink Arena. The last 24 Idaho participants in shootouts have now been rejected. This game didn’t have to get that far, as Sam Carrick scored a go-ahead goal for the Steelheads just over a minute into the third period. But the Grizzlies, the ECHL’s best team in road power play percentage, answered shortly thereafter on the man-advantage. The Steelies get the Grizzlies on home ice two more times tomorrow night and Saturday night.
Steelheads play-by-play man Will Hoenike pointed this out to me. Reigning ECHL Goaltender of the Week Ryan Zapolski of South Carolina, who was in training camp with the Steelheads in October, came within one period of breaking the ECHL all-time record for consecutive shutout minutes Tuesday night. Gwinnett ended up beating Zapolski in the Stingrays 2-1 in overtime. Zapolski was coming off three consecutive shutouts (and four in six games). He stopped 37 of 38 shots for the Steelies in their lone pre-season game at home against Utah, then he was released. Had Josh Robinson not come on like a house afire between the pipes this season, Idaho would have had some regrets. The Steelheads did play South Carolina this season, winning 4-3 on the road five weeks ago. But Zapolski didn’t play that night.
The Idaho Stampede are in the midst of an 18-day stretch that sees them play 10 games, and there’s long travel to boot. The Stampede start a three-game Midwestern swing today against the Canton Charge, and get this: the game starts at 9:00 this morning Mountain time. It’ll be an instant homecoming for forward JaJuan Johnson, who will make his Stampede debut after being picked up as part of a four-way trade Monday. Also joining the club is guard Reggie Hamilton, who most recently played for Victoria Libertas Pesaro in the Italian Serie A, the top professional basketball league in Italy. The Stamps will also visit Fort Wayne and Iowa this weekend.
Treasure Valley prep basketball fans hope the boys do better at the state tournaments this week than the girls did a couple weeks ago. The area was shut out of the trophy count on the girls’ side with the exception of Bishop Kelly in 4A. It certainly shapes up to be more fruitful for the valley now, as defending state 5A boys champion Borah begins play against Madison at the Idaho Center tonight with a 22-1 record. The biggest challengers would appear to be Highland and Rocky Mountain. It was Rocky who ended the Lions’ 40-game winning streak this season.
This Day In Sports…February 28, 1960:
The US Olympic hockey team trails Czechoslovakia, 4-3, after two periods in the finals at the Winter Games in Squaw Valley. The Americans had upset the Soviets the day before and were playing an 8am game against the Czechs—and were out of gas. During the break after the second period, the Soviet captain visited the American locker room, and—unable to speak English—used sign language to suggest that the USA use oxygen to re-energize. A tank was rolled in, and the revitalized Americans scored six goals in a 12-minute span to win, 9-4, and capture the gold medal.
(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.)