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An exclamation point on Boise State’s lost winter

by Tom Scott

Bio | Follow: @thescottslant


Posted on February 22, 2010 at 8:35 AM

Updated Monday, Feb 22 at 11:42 AM


Monday, February 22, 2010.
You always want to tread lightly when you compare the Boise State football team to its men’s basketball counterpart. It’s hardly fair to compare anything to Bronco football. But there’s one thing that seems so simple. The “one game at a time” mantra can be so cliché, but the football squad has long made it a rallying cry and taken it seriously. Unfortunately for hoops, it is not contagious. The basketball Broncos left it in the locker room Saturday night in their 82-74 loss to UC Davis. It was a game they took for granted, not unlike their game at San Jose State last month. To be sure, it’s difficult to find energy in front of a tiny crowd, but that’s a vicious circle. If you win with heart—and win a lot—they will come. This is not that kind of season. Boise State is now virtually assured of its first losing record in four years. 
Nick Jezierny of the Statesman pointed out that the attendance of 1,904 was the smallest for a Division I opponent since 2001, when Boise State went to turnstile count as opposed to tickets sold. But I can say with relative certainty that there was never a Bronco men’s crowd that small before then—bodies in the seats—since the Pavilion/Taco Bell Arena opened in 1982. This is disconcerting for Boise State on so many levels. Certainly the wheels are turning on what must be done to stop the bleeding at the gate at a time when the need for revenue is so acute. But the “invitation-worthiness” of the university takes a hit when the basketball program struggles to this extent on the floor and in the stands.
Details of the 2010 football schedule keep trickling out. The WAC is always among the last to release its slate, because it’s the last conference to get its pieces plugged in by ESPN. The Worldwide Leader had already finalized the move of Boise State’s game against Virginia Tech in Washington, DC, to Labor Day night. Now ESPN has locked in Hawaii and USC to wrap up college football’s Opening Night on Thursday, September 2. The Honolulu Advertiser says the WAC should have the conference schedule in place by…hold your breath…March 11. 
It’s easier to get info on 2016 right now—that’s when Boise State and Washington State will begin a home-and-home series in back-to-back years. The Cougars should have it back together by then, shouldn’t they? Wazzu was the last team to beat the Broncos on the blue turf in the regular season, back in 2001. Boise State has won three of its last four games against Pac-10 teams, but it’s 0-4 all-time against the Cougs.
On the heels of Bob Gregory’s return to Boise State last week, there was yet another reunion among members of Dan Hawkins’ original Boise State staff. This one involves Hawk himself and Robert Prince, his first wide receivers coach at BSU. Prince has left the Seattle Seahawks to become passing game coordinator and receivers coach at Colorado. He served under Hawkins with the Broncos from 2001-03.
This is one of the highlight days locally at the Vancouver Olympics. It’s the return of Boise’s Jeret Peterson to freestyle aerials at the Winter Games, four years after he failed to medal and was subsequently tossed out of Torino by the U.S. team following a drunken brawl with a lifelong friend. Speedy addressed it all in a pre-Olympics feature in the New York Times. “Salt Lake was an Olympic highlight and the Italian Olympics were a lowlight, so I need one more,” Peterson said.  “I learned a lot from my mistakes and I owned up to them.  No one who was there the night of the fight in Italy is mad at me.  Mason (Fuller) is still my best friend.  At one point, somebody said to me, ‘Dude, it was a bar fight, let’s move on.’  But it was important because it did make me see what I had to change.” Peterson has since gone clean—and has regained his focus.
It was a different kind of a sprint over the weekend for former Boise State track standout Nick Cunningham. Just two years after transitioning to bobsled, Cunningham made the U.S. Olympic team as the brakeman on the No. 3 four-man team—then was a late addition to the Americans’ No. 3 sled in two-man competition, which was held over the weekend. And it was not a bad Olympic debut, as Cunningham and driver Mike Kohn finished 12th at the Whistler Sliding Center. The duo improved its standing in each of its four runs.
In this weekend’s episode of the “Real Hockey Teams of Orange County,” the Ontario Reign got their dander up and swept the Idaho Steelheads by counts of 4-1 and 5-4, the latter in overtime. It mattered not to the Reign that they are last place in the Pacific Division, while the Steelheads are first in the West Division (not to mention the entire National Conference). Steelheads center Tyler Spurgeon notched his second hat trick of the month Saturday night, to no avail. But the biggest surprise of the series was Rejean Beauchemin, who allowed a total of nine goals on only 40 Ontario shots. Beauchemin took the two losses after having won seven straight starts. Maybe he’d better grow that hair back out.
The Idaho Stampede hit rock bottom Friday night against the D-League’s best team—but they may have started up the other side with their come-from-behind win over the L.A. D-Fenders Saturday night. The Stampede had suffered a franchise-record 29-point home loss to the Iowa Energy Friday and needed some answers. Donell Taylor provided them again, leading the Stamps with 26 points and scoring the ultimate winning bucket on a lay-in with 31 seconds left. It was only Idaho’s second win during the month of February. The Stampede now embark on a six-game road trip, starting tonight in Bismarck against the Dakota Wizards.
Yes, there were more downs than ups on the local sports scene over the weekend. One glaring exception was Middleton High School’s state 4A girls basketball championship after all the other valley representatives had been ushered out before the finals. Congrats to the Vikings. And the Boise State women’s basketball team is showing signs of life less than two weeks before the WAC Tournament, picking up an 80-62 win at San Jose State Saturday night. The victory snapped an eight-game road losing streak, but it was the Broncos’ third straight win overall and moved them into a tie for fourth in the WAC.
This Day In Sports…February 22, 1980, 30 years ago today:
This was the biggest day of all at the Lake Placid Winter Olympics, the day Al Michaels made one of the most famous calls in sports history: “Do you believe in miracles? Yes!” The underdog US Olympic hockey team defeats the seemingly-invincible Soviet Union 4-3 to set off a national celebration. A couple weeks earlier, the Russians had humiliated the Americans by seven goals in a 10-3 shellacking.
(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.)