Tuesday, March 12, 2013.
Two of the criteria scrutinized by the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee are good wins and bad losses. And this Boise State basketball season has been very different in that regard. The Broncos got a good win out of the gate in November, beating then-No. 11 Creighton on the road. They also downed Wyoming on the road when the Cowboys were ranked, and added conference wins over UNLV, Colorado State and San Diego State at home. Boise State has never come close to that many wins against teams ranked high in RPI ratings.
But nothing can trump good wins like bad losses. Boise State’s defeats at Utah, Air Force and Nevada are as bad as it gets this season. That’s not terrible. And on Saturday, the Utes toppled No. 23 Oregon, and the Falcons upset No. 11 New Mexico. The Wolf Pack? A couple years ago that was a good win. During the 23-10 campaign of 2003-04, the Broncos suffered home losses to Portland and Rice, among other transgressions. Two years ago when it went 22-13 in Leon Rice’s first season, Boise State had road losses at Drake and Portland and fell at home to Hawaii. Those didn’t sound so bad at the time, but defeats like that this season would have had the Broncos out of the NCAA Tournament bubble conversation. Quickly. The facts are there (but I still don’t trust the Selection Committee).
You can argue that Boise State’s Leon Rice should have been Mountain West Coach of the Year ‘til the cows come home, but that’s the least of the Broncos’ concerns going into the conference tournament tomorrow night against San Diego State. Rice’s achievements, considering preseason expectations, were certainly impressive. New Mexico’s Steve Alford won the honor. His team wasn’t picked as MW favorite but won the regular season going away. Votes for Derrick Marks and Anthony Drmic must have offset—both Broncos are second-team All-Mountain West. And that’s it for Boise State men’s basketball honors. On the women’s side, BSU’s Brandi Henton was named conference Newcomer of the year. Eagle High grad Lauren Lenhardt was second-team All-Mountain West.
Through the rejuvenation of Boise State basketball this winter, there hasn’t been enough acknowledgment of the 25th anniversary of the Broncos’ best season ever. That was the 24-6 campaign of 1987-88 that featured fan favorites like Chris Childs, Arnell Jones and Doug Usitalo. Today is the actual anniversary of that team’s Big Sky championship. To recap, the Broncos were in an epic battle in the conference tournament final against Montana State on the Bobcats’ home floor. With the score tied at 61, Childs drove the baseline and hit a layup with two seconds left to beat MSU, 63-61, sending the Broncos to the NCAA Tournament for a first-round matchup with Michigan.
There’ll be a mix of Boise State basketball and football for a little while yet. On the football side, spring drills began yesterday for the Broncos. There’s not a lot of drama this spring, but one position really sticks out. Jamar Taylor and Jerrell Gavins have departed at cornerback, taking a combined 240 tackles, 13 interceptions and 30 pass breakups with them. There's talent coming up through the ranks, but who's going to step up? Can the Broncos maintain a level that saw them finish fifth in the nation last year in fewest passing yards allowed and fifth in pass efficiency defense?
Among the returnees at cornerback who have played, Bryan Douglas will miss spring ball as he rehabs his injured knee. Donte Deayon, all 151 pounds of him, got quality playing time late last year once his redshirt year was burned and will look to establish himself this spring. Ebo Makinde is looking to reach his full potential, and Deon’tae Florence is set to continue learning the ropes as a one-time junior college transfer. Speaking of which, speedy new JC arrival Cleshawn Page is a player to watch this spring, as is redshirt freshman Chaz Anderson.
The University of Washington will take no action on tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins at least until police have filed formal charges against him. Sefarian-Jenkins was arrested for suspicion of DUI after an accident in a University District park late Saturday night. Depending on the severity of the charges, Sefarian-Jenkins’ status for the August 31 opener against Boise State could be affected. The 6-6, 266-pound All-American candidate will be a junior this year and is already the Huskies’ career leader among tight ends in receptions, receiving yards and touchdown catches. He had six catches for 61 yards and a touchdown in the Huskies’ 28-26 loss to the Broncos in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas last December.
Safety Quintin Mikell has been released by St. Louis, saving the Rams $3 million in salary cap space. Mikell was scheduled to $6 million this year. The former Boise State star turns 33 in September, an age that would typically scare off other NFL suitors. But Mikell provides much-desired experience, durability, savvy and leadership qualities. He logged a career-high 101 tackles last season and started all 16 Rams games in each of the past two seasons. Mikell has compiled one of the longest NFL careers of any Boise State graduate. He’s made it 10 seasons, amassing 638 tackles, 12 interceptions, eight sacks and eight fumble recoveries.
Montreal seems fairly fascinated by Dan Hawkins, the newly-hired coach of the CFL’s Alouettes. The French-Canadian city likes the fact that he tries to parlez-vous francais, has run with the bulls in Pamplona and had to cancel a trip to the base camp on Mt. Everest when he took the job with the “Als.” The former Boise State coach, better known recently for falling by the wayside at Colorado, will ultimately be judged on how he adjusts to the CFL game, which is vastly different than what he’s accustomed to.
“I guarantee you there will be times where you’ll write ‘Hawk had no clue what he was doing out there.’ And you’ll be right,” Hawk told the Montreal Gazette’s Herb Zurkowsky, invoking a bit of his Zen mantra. “When you try to risk and grow and reach, sometimes you fall. But you learn valuable lessons. Somewhere in the greater consciousness of our society, that gets lost. But that’s how I live. I’m never not going to do something because I’m afraid to fail. Never! That will drive me to attempt it.”
This Day In Sports…March 12, 1996:
The College of Idaho, then known as Albertson College, beats Whitworth in overtime, 81-72, to win the NAIA Division II national basketball championship at Montgomery Fieldhouse in Nampa. Boise State transfer Damon Archibald scores 23 of his game-high 29 points in the second half to help give Albertson coach Marty Holly the crown jewel of his 19-year stint leading the Yotees.
(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.)