Thursday, February 18, 2010.
Chris Petersen had said Boise State would be fine going through spring football without filling the spot on the coaching staff left vacant by Justin Wilcox. But Petersen has found his man long before the spring bell rings. So who would he hire for that defensive position? Would it be a young up-and-comer from within like director of player personnel Julius Brown? Would it be a shining star from a smaller program? No. It would be California’s defensive coordinator. Bob Gregory was the Broncos’ D-coordinator in 2001 and has held that job at Cal since. Now Gregory returns to Boise State as a defensive position coach. An amazing get for Petersen.
I liked Jon Wilner’s first reaction last night in the San Jose Mercury News: “Wow. Wow, wow, wow.” Judging from Gregory’s quote in Cal’s press release, “I loved working with (Jeff Tedford) and will really miss all the coaches and players, but this decision is a great move for my family,” he was ready for a change. Maybe the Bears were, too, but not if you listen to Cal coach Jeff Tedford in Cal’s release: “This was coach Gregory’s decision all the way to make what he feels is the best move for his family.” What we do know isBoise State has spirited away a coach with eight years of Pac-10 coordinator’s experience, one with roots in the Broncos’ Golden Era. When BSU surprised the WAC by finishing second in its first year in the conference, one of the keys was Gregory’s defense.
When Petersen made Wilcox one of his first hires in December of 2005, he then brought in Pete Kwiatkowski as kind of a veteran support mechanism for his young new defensive coordinator. Kwaitkowski wasn’t exactly a spring chicken then—and he certainly isn’t four years later. Yet he now has his own experienced support mechanism in the form of Gregory, a guy who helped once-mediocre Cal to bowl games in each of the past seven seasons.
LeGarrette Blount’s replacement may be in more trouble now than Blount ever was for the punch that decked Boise State’s Byron Hout last September. Oregon tailback LaMichael James, who became one of the top freshmen in the nation after taking over upon Blount’s suspension, is facing domestic violence charges after his girlfriend said he grabbed her neck during an argument and pushed her to the ground at a Springfield apartment complex. It’s just the latest in a series of headaches for Duck coach Chip Kelly, who has seen a kicker charged for instigating a brawl in which he was badly beaten, another kicker leave the program after being involved in the incident, and a defensive end kicked off the team for a retaliatory beating tied to that brawl. Fun times in Eugene.
The team that couldn’t buy a three-pointer at Nevada last Saturday saw a rim that looked like a dumpster last night at Taco Bell Arena. Boise State was 1-of-17 from beyond the arc in its overtime loss to the Wolf Pack, but nailed 12-of-21 against Cal State Bakersfield to win going away, 81-62. The Broncos shot 57 percent—both overall and from three-point land. Anthony Thomas, pacing himself because of an injured toe, went scoreless in the first half. But Thomas ended up with a team-leading 15 points after turning it loose in the second half.
The highlight for Boise State, though, was seldom-used junior guard Justin Salzwedel, who scored a career-high 12 points—all of them on three-pointers. Maybe this weird week of two vanilla non-conference games in the middle of the WAC season provides just what BSU needs: a shot of confidence. It doesn’t do much for the crowd, as only 2,027 were there last night. The Broncos host UC Davis in the BracketBuster Saturday night. Meanwhile, the Boise State women clinched a winning season with a 73-63 victory over Idaho in the first game of last night’s doubleheader.
There’s a lot of wordsmithing when it comes to local ties in the Olympics. Take Simi Hamilton. The Nordic skier is from Aspen, CO, but yesterday he was “Sun Valley’s Simi Hamilton” as he finished 29th in qualifying for the men’s individual sprint, the only American to advance. Hamilton has been training with the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation for the past two years and won the U.S. national championship this winter. How about another Idaho tie? Here, he’s known as “Sandpoint’s Nate Holland,” and in the Reno-Tahoe area the snowboardcross competitor is known as “Squaw Valley’s Nate Holland.” Monday on NBC, Al Michaels called him “Idaho’s Nate Holland.” And we’ll leave it at that.
An Idaho Stampede reset as their All-Star break wraps up. There are 21 games left, with the Stampede trying to right the ship after a brutal stretch that has left them 14-15, eight games out of first place in the West Conference. With Coby Karl returning, the Stamps will try to get their mojo back in a most difficult way—they host the D-League’s best team, the Iowa Energy, tomorrow night in Qwest Arena.
Richard Bachman doesn’t care what uniform he’s wearing—when you’re hot, you’re hot. Just called up from the Idaho Steelheads, Bachman recorded his first AHL shutout Tuesday night in the Texas Stars’ 5-0 win over Hamilton. Better yet, three of Texas’ five goals came from former Steelheads: Trevor Ludwig, Aaron Gagnon, and Warren Peters. Bachman got another win last night as the Stars triumphed at Syracuse, 3-1, helped by tallies from Gagnon and another former Steelhead, Greg Rallo. The guys Bachman left behind, the current Steelies, go to Ontario tomorrow night.
Cubs manager Lou Piniella says former Boise Hawk Andrew Cashner will get an opportunity to earn a spot in Chicago’s rotation during spring training. Cashner, the Cubs’ first round draft pick in 2008, will be competing with another ex-Hawk, Jeff Samardzija, to fill the void left by the injured Ted Lilly, who’s probably out for the first month of the season. Cashner, a 6-5 righthander, made six appearances for the Hawks in 2008, going 1-1 with a 4.96 ERA. Believe it or not, pitchers and catchers report to spring training today.
This Day In Sports…February 18, 1979:
Boise State’s last 40-point game, as guard Carl Powell scores exactly that in a 98-87 loss to Idaho State in old Bronco Gym. All of Powell’s points came from the field as he set a school record for field goals with 20. And many of his baskets were from long-range—before the days of the three-pointer. Powell outdueled the nation’s leading Division I scorer that night, Lawrence Butler scoring 39 for the Bengals.
(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 1350 KTIK/The Ticket. He also handles color commentary on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football.)