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An unbalanced kind of balance in Bronco hoops

by Tom Scott

Bio | Follow: @thescottslant


Posted on February 16, 2010 at 8:39 AM


Tuesday, February 16, 2010.
Reflecting on Ike Okoye’s 32-point, 14-rebound effort in Boise State’s 88-80 overtime loss at Nevada Saturday night, it was a stupendous performance. It was the first time since December 20 Okoye has led Boise State in scoring. He is one of seven different players to notch game-high honors for the Broncos this season. In a typical year, that might be seen as a positive—the “different guy stepping up every night” thing. But this is not your typical season. When one Bronco steps up, other players seem to step down. Consider this: while Okoye and Daequon Montreal combined to hit 60 percent from the floor, Anthony Thomas, Reggie Arnold, La’Shard Anderson and Paul Noonan combined to shoot just 22 percent.
Not to take anything away from Okoye. It was easily his career-high in points, and it was Boise State’s first 30-point game of the season. In fact, his 32 points were the most by a Bronco in over four years, since Coby Karl also had 32 in a home game versus Nevada. Last year in Reno, Okoye scored only two points, going 1-for-7 from the field. He did have 10 rebounds, though. Nevada does have consistency going—in the past two games, Luke Babbitt and Armon Johnson have scored 49 of the Wolf Pack’s 54 points after halftime. And Johnson was named WAC Player of the Week yesterday. The concern in Reno is, if those two don’t get some help come WAC Tournament time, the Pack is doomed.
Speaking of Karl, his 10-day contract with the Golden State Warriors is over, and he’s back with the Idaho Stampede. His experience with the Warriors was unlike any other he’s had in the NBA, though. Karl played in four games and actually started one. Instead of getting an occasional end-of-game mopup minute, he played 27 minutes a game and averaged seven points and four assists. Karl also posted the first two double-figures games of his NBA career. He was playing the best basketball of his life when he left the Stampede at the end of last month. Karl had appearedin five games with the Stamps and twice put up 36 points. He’ll be in uniform in Qwest Arena Friday night when the Stampede return home versus the Iowa Energy.
There’s some wishful thinking goin’ around as the Pac-10 expansion wheels start turning. Entirely unrealistic thinking. While most people in Boise don’t have any preconceived notions about Boise State’s chances of being considered for Pac-10 membership, there’s a little bit of public dreaming going on in Honolulu and Fresno. Hawaii athletic Jim Donovan has contacted the Pac-10 about "potential opportunities" for his school. The easy answer is, there are none. The Pac-10 is looking to make money, not spend it. And Hawaii’s aging facilities would not pass Pac-10 muster. Besides, UH has a good chance of being left hung out to dry if there’s a seismic shift in conference affiliation that leaves the Mountain West and WAC fragmented.
Then there’s Matt James of the Fresno Bee, who’s a great writer and probably knows he’s really reaching here. “The Pac-10 could take Boise State and Fresno State and not have to persuade BYU and Utah to abandon the schools they persuaded to leave the WAC.  It wouldn't have to deal with BYU's no-play-on-Sunday rule,” wrote James last week. “Fresno State's location cancels any market-size advantage Salt Lake City might claim.  (Salt Lake City isn't much bigger than the combination of Fresno and Boise.) The Bulldogs need to make some sort of ‘Survivor’-esque alliance with Boise State and hope the Broncos somehow honor it.”  The fact is, as part of the state university system in California, Fresno State has no shot at the Pac-10 in the “academic and cultural compatibility” category.
It’s one thing for local athletes to make the Olympics—it’s another for them to do the unexpected. Sandpoint’s Nate Holland was expected to medal in snowboardcross and finished fourth. Hailey’s Graham Watanabe was also expected to medal in the event and didn’t make it past the quarterfinals. Ketchum’s Morgan Arritola was an expected middle-of-the-pack in the 10-kilometer freesyle cross country race yesterday. But Boise’s Sara Studebaker wasn’t given much of a chance to make a dent in the women’s biathlon. Instead, she was the top American finisher in the 7.5-kilometer sprint Saturday, in 45th-place (pretty good for the U.S. in that sport). Studebaker is back on the course today in the 10-kilometer pursuit.
Unless Richard Bachman is returned to Boise quickly by the AHL’s Texas Stars, the Idaho Steelheads’ pipes will belong to Rejean Beauchemin for awhile. And Beauchemin appears to be ready for anything. The 24-year-old netminder has won his last six starts, and Saturday night he continued his mastery of the shootout. Beauchemin was in goal for the 4-3 shootout win over Utah—he has now stopped 14 of the last 15 shootout shots he has faced. The Steelheads return to the ice Friday night when they open a two-game series at Ontario.
We’ve spent some time the past five months or so harping on Bronco Stadium not being filled to capacity for some Boise State football games, and Taco Bell Arena not being even one-third full for most men’s basketball games. By the same token, attendance at last Friday night’s sixth annual Beauty & The Beast event deserves props. There were 3,482 fans there to see the Bronco wrestlers drop Oregon State 21-12 in a Pac-10 match and the Bronco gymnasts dispatch Sacramento State and Seattle Pacific, scoring a season-high 195.075. It was a great turnout opposite the Opening Ceremonies of the Winter Olympics on the tube. The Beauty & The Beast extravaganza has morphed from creative gimmick to tradition.
The “The Toughest Half-Marathon in the Northwest” is also the toughest to enter because of its overwhelming popularity. Signup for the Race To Robie Creek April 17 commenced at high noon yesterday, and it was full in 35 minutes. Well, almost full. The Second Chance Drawing opens this morning and goes through 5PM Friday at the race website. An additional 200 participants will be chosen from that pool and will be told a week from today if they made the cut.
This Day In Sports…February 16, 1984:
Bill Johnson, who started ski racing as a Mitey Mite at Bogus Basin, becomes the first American ever to win the Olympic downhill. Johnson had brashly predicted that he would win after having the fastest training runs on the course at the Winter Olympics in Sarajevo. Johnson is now debilitated both physically and mentally from a horrific crash at a Montana downhill during a comeback attempt in 2002.
(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.)