Friday, February 14, 2014.
After the rather gripping triumph over New Mexico Wednesday night, and with a bye this weekend, we can hit the reset button on the Boise State season. The Broncos are 16-9, 6-6 in the Mountain West, with six games remaining in the regular season. So with one more victory, Boise State will clinch a winning season, coach Leon Rice’s third in four years with the Broncos. Chances at a third 20-win season in four years have become a bit dicier—still very possible, but no layup. Obviously Boise State needs four more Ws. Left on the schedule are road games at Colorado State, Fresno State, Wyoming and Air Force, and home dates against UNLV and Nevada. There are no gimmes there, not even at the Academy. Perish the thought, but the best path to a 20-win season may be some postseason event other than the NCAA Tournament.
As Boise State takes the breather this weekend, it sits right in the middle of the Mountain West standings in sixth place at 6-6. The Broncos are just 1½ games out of third—and just a game out of ninth. That’s how much parity there is this year. BSU wants to finish at least fifth, because the top five get byes in the first round of the Mountain West Tournament next month. Immediately ahead of the Broncos are UNLV, Nevada and Wyoming. All three are still on the agenda, as noted above. Chasing Boise State (one game behind) are Colorado State, Fresno State and Utah State. The Rams and Bulldogs are still to come, with CSU up next Tuesday night in Fort Collins.
The end of the game Wednesday night remains kind of astonishing. Fans thought they had seen it before—Boise State’s Derrick Marks with the ball in his hands and the shot clock off, trying to win the game. The time was supposed to wind down to about four seconds, and then Marks would make his move. The results had not been good this season. But Marks drove with 15 seconds remaining, missing the layup but drawing the foul. He then calmly dropped in two free throws, and the Broncos led 71-70. Marks was 1-for-9 on the night yet had eight assists, and he was poised to bask in the spotlight. But wait, there were still 13.4 seconds left, and this was New Mexico they were playing. Marks saw Hugh Greenwood take an off-balance last-second shot much like his against San Diego State, and the pandemonium began.
There’s been some debate over this guy’s status, but Scout.com has safety Darrell Stewart on Boise State’s 2015 football commitment list. Scout pegs the commit date as last Friday. The Broncos were the first to offer Stewart a scholarship, and it’s very early, so we’ll see what happens. Early reports on the 6-1, 190-pounder from Houston indicated he could play anywhere in the secondary. Stewart also had 12 catches for 186 yards last fall as a receiver and threw for 133 yards as a dual-threat quarterback his sophomore year.
Nick Cunningham is scheduled to drive one of the three US two-man bobsleds in heats on Monday at the Winter Olympics in Sochi. And it can’t come soon enough for the former Boise State trackster. You may have seen the photo of the hole Cunningham’s teammate, Johnny Quinn, knocked in a door in a room at the athletes’ village after being locked in the bathroom. Well, Cunningham was on the other side of the wall, donning headphones to drown out that “very annoying” noise he heard. Then at the beginning of the week, Quinn and Cunningham got stuck in an elevator. “We cannot wait to get on the ice—kind of champing at the bit,” Cunningham said from Sochi this week on Idaho SportsTalk. “My crew, we are here to win medals. We’re proud to be Olympians, but that’s not our end goal. We want to bring home hardware for our country.”
Waiting to see if Idaho Steelheads goalie Pat Nagle can bounce back and work the net for the second and third games of the series against Bakersfield. Nagle left the ice Wednesday night in CenturyLink Arena with 1½ minutes left in the second period during the Steelheads’ 2-1 loss to the Condors. Backup Josh Watson relieved him and played well, stopping six of seven shots he faced while taking the loss. At the other end will be Bakersfield netminder Laurent Brossoit, seeking to continue his mastery of Idaho. The loss to the Condors Wednesday dropped the Steelies into last place in the ECHL Mountain Division, yet they’re only three points behind second-place Colorado.
It was a reasonably standard first round for Graham DeLaet yesterday in the Northern Trust Open at Riviera Country Club near Los Angeles. The former Boise State star carded a one-under 70 and is tied for 35th. The trend for DeLaet in the new year has been a serviceable start followed by a weekend charge. It has worked to the tune of more than $1.3 million in earnings in just six tournaments this season.
Idaho Stampede mainstays Pierre Jackson and Dee Bost are set for the D-League All-Star Game in New Orleans tomorrow, part of NBA All-Star Weekend. Jackson probably wishes he could just stay, since New Orleans holds his NBA rights. But the Pelicans continue to sit on them—no call-up, no trade—despite a phenomenal season that has seen Jackson lead the league in scoring. Bost was added to the All-Star roster yesterday as a replacement for the Iowa Energy’s Jarvis Varnado. The Stamps’ EJ Singler will be in the Big Easy as well, participating in the D-League three-point shooting competition.
The Chicago Cubs report to spring training today with a healthy sprinkling of former Boise Hawks. Pitchers Marcus Hatley and Erik Jokisch, infielders Javier Baez and Kris Bryant, outfielder Albert Almora, and catcher Rafael Lopez will be newcomers in the big league camp. They will join 12 other former Boise players already on the Cubs’ 40-man roster. That list includes pitchers Dallas Beeler, Alberto Cabrera, Blake Parker, Brooks Raley, Chris Rusin, and Jeff Samardzija; catcher Welington Castillo; infielders Arismendy Alcantara, Josh Vitters, and Logan Watkins; and outfielders Brett Jackson and Matt Szczur.
Boise State’s Emma Bates has a bigger-than-usual stage tomorrow, as she will run the 3,000-meters at the 107th Millrose Games in New York City. Bates will be one of three college athletes entered in the prestigious event. Abby D’Agostino of Dartmouth and Kate Avery of Iona are the only other two non-pros in the race. Bates was sandwiched in between D’Agostino and Avery in the top three at the NCAA Cross Country Championships last fall. Also in the field are 2012 Olympians Kim Conley of the U.S. and Lucy Van Dalen of New Zealand. The event is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. Mountain time tomorrow afternoon and is slated to be shown on NBC Sports Network.
This Day In Sports…February 14, 2012:
Talk about a flash in the pan. “Linsanity” buzz hits a crescendo when Jeremy Lin, once an undrafted free agent out of Harvard, hits a three-pointer with a half-second left to give the New York Knicks a dramatic 90-87 road win over Toronto. Lin was less than a month removed from the D-League, and his incredible play since his call-up had captured the fancy of hoops fans everywhere, especially Chinese-Americans. Lin averaged 27 points a game over his first five starts, and traffic to the Knicks’ online store increased 3,000 percent as fans clamored for merchandise sporting Lin’s No. 17. Lin is now in Houston and might be on the trading block.
(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.)