Friday, March 29, 2013.
The Statesman’s Dave Southorn reports Boise State will be getting a new basketball floor in Taco Bell Arena next season. Coach Leon Rice told Southorn it won’t be blue. Maybe there could be something uniquely Boise on the floor, though. Oregon’s Matthew Knight Arena has those images of Douglas firs surrounding the floor. It almost gives you claustrophobia watching it. The Mountain West hardwood at the conference tournament this month featured mountain peaks and actually looked pretty good on TV. Boise State could make their court gray and fuzzy, symbolic of a January inversion. Southorn also reports the Broncos will embark on a foreign tour this summer, destination to be announced, allowing them 10 extra practices. The last time Boise State played a series of foreign exhibitions was during the Greg Graham era.
As spring football soaks up spring break, some onlookers are skeptical about the linebacker spot at Boise State this year. I’m not one of them. Not that J.C. Percy and Tommy Smith are going to be easy to replace, but Blake Renaud and Tyler Gray are ready as they move into the spotlight in spring football. Renaud, while starring on special teams his first two years, became a student of the ‘backer position last season. He was the Broncos’ sixth-leading tackler last fall with 46 stops. Gray played beyond his years as a true freshman in 2012, recording 27 tackles and making his first career interception, a 34-yarder that set up Boise State’s first touchdown at Southern Miss.
The Broncos do need to develop depth, but that project gets a head start from Beau Weaver, who was Boise State’s Defensive Scout Team Player of the Year in 2012. That honor is usually a forebearer of good things. Among the other candidates to make the two-deep are Dustin Kamper, Andrew Pint, and Darren Lee. Kamper’s a walk-on out of Nampa Christian High who’s looking for a big finish as a senior. Pint had a solid redshirt season, and Lee is joining the team this year after serving a two-year LDS mission. Gray has been banged up this spring, so the up-and-comers are getting valuable reps.
Nevada spring football got underway Wednesday. There’s a new coach, a new staff, and new systems. But one spring goal hasn’t changed for the Wolf Pack. Somehow, some way improve the defense. There’s a lot of new energy from coach Brian Polian, and new concepts from defensive coordinator Scottie Hazelton. All four defensive line starters return, but only one is back from among the linebacker and secondary groups. And it’ll take time to erase the memories of last season. In Chris Ault’s final game, Nevada led by 13 points with less than two minutes remaining in the New Mexico Bowl and lost 49-48 to Arizona. And two other times last season the Pack watched double-digit leads evaporate in the final five minutes and turn into one-point losses.
The College of Idaho football program will have enough players to fill a starting lineup before too long. Coach Mike Moroski has announced the signing of 10 more players to Frontier Conference Letters of Intent, pushing his “Zero Year” recruiting class to 16. The group includes eight players from Idaho. The most familiar might be Cesar Montes, a 2A All-State placekicker from McCall-Donnelly High. Montes went viral last season with video of a state-record 55-yard field goal in a win over Grangeville. The resurrected Coyotes will begin play in 2014 but will be able to hold “limited activity” practices this fall.
It’s the biggest college baseball weekend of the season in the Treasure Valley, as the College of Idaho hosts perennial NAIA power Lewis-Clark State in a four-game series beginning today at Wolfe Field. The C of I bills it as the “Gem State World Series.” The Coyotes made their fifth NAIA World Series appearance last season, but that pales in comparison the the seventh-ranked Warriors’ portfolio. L-C State has won 16 NAIA World Series titles, and it dominates the series with the Yotes, leading 144-47-1. The teams have played once this season, with the Warriors winning in Lewiston.
One Idaho Steelheads subject today is defenseman Matt Case being named first-team All-ECHL yesterday. In plus-minus ratio, Case has a sparking plus-30 this season, tied for the league lead. The other subject: coach Brad Ralph’s eye for talent. The Central Hockey may be a step down from the ECHL, but Ralph has a knack for knowing which CHL players are ready to make the move up. Tyler Gron and Brett Robinson, two forwards that Ralph signed out of the CHL in January, have combined for 54 points (26 goals, 28 assists). Gron has tallied 20 goals in 33 games, including the thrilling overtime game-winner in the 1-0 victory at San Francisco Wednesday night. The Steelheads wrap up the regular season at the Cow Palace tonight and at Stockton tomorrow night.
If this is the twilight of Jason Ellis’ career, you have four great opportunities to catch him while you can at CenturyLink Arena. The Idaho Stampede close out the season at home, beginning tonight against the D-League West Division-leading Bakersfield Jam. You’ll see the same kind of effort from the 30-year-old Ellis now as you did when he was an 18-year-old Boise State Bronco in 2001. Ellis does the dirty work on the boards and has pulled down double-digit rebounds in seven of the last 13 games. He averages 6½ boards in just 20½ minutes per game.
Graham DeLaet is back at the scene of the biggest payday off his career, beginning play yesterday at the Shell Houston Open. The former Boise State star had an uneventful round—two birdies and one bogey for a one-under 71. DeLaet tied for third at the Houston Open as a rookie in 2010, earning $336,400. That was the year before the debilitating back injury that wiped out most of his 2011 season, but now he’s a PGA Tour regular.
No sellout yet for the Davis Cup quarterfinals between the U.S. and Serbia next weekend at Taco Bell Arena. So the USTA is making single-day tickets available beginning Monday morning, with prices starting at $35. Action begins next Friday with each team’s No. 1 singles player meeting the opposing team’s No. 2. That means John Isner challenging Novak Djokovic and Sam Querrey taking on Viktor Troicki.
The Boise State men’s tennis team has its 28th straight home victory in hand. The Broncos cruised past UC Santa Barbara at the Appleton Center 6-1 yesterday, with Andy Bettles winning at No. 1 singles for the 11th consecutive time and surprise freshman Thomas Teneiro taking his 10th straight match at No. 5. The Broncos have also won seven in a row overall—they host Utah State this afternoon.
This Day In Sports…March 29, 1982:
One of the great gaffes in NCAA Tournament history. Georgetown trailed North Carolina 63-62 and had the ball when, with seven seconds left, the Hoyas’ Freddie Brown mistook the Tar Heels’ James Worthy for a teammate and threw Worthy the ball. Michael Jordan had scored the go-ahead basket nine seconds earlier, and that would finally give North Carolina coach Dean Smith his first national championship in his fourth trip to the NCAA title 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.)