Tuesday, Mar 30 at 9:07 AM
Tuesday, March 30, 2010.
Now that the stubs have been counted from the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament a week and a half ago, let’s get a sample of how various sites did in attendance as we wonder if Boise will ever host the event again. The two venues that appear to have fared well were in Buffalo and Milwaukee. Half of the host sites fell far short of capacity on that Thursday and Friday, though. In New Orleans, the Kentucky-East Tennessee State game saw 6,000 empty seats. Oklahoma City, despite its proximity to Kansas, had almost 5,000 seats vacant for the Jayhawks against Lehigh. Jacksonville came up almost 3500 short of a full house for Wisconsin-Wofford.
In San Jose, the HP Pavilion was over 3,000 shy of capacity for New Mexico versus Montana. And even Spokane was about 1300 away from a sellout for the New Mexico State-Michigan State game. The NCAA does not like empty chairs for its showcase event. That would bode well for another visit to Boise, provided Taco Bell Arena can measure up to some of these new century arenas. Of the eight venues that hosted the first and second rounds this year, two had capacities similar to Taco Bell’s 12,380: Providence and Spokane. Boise has hosted the NCAA Tournament’s first and second rounds eight times and has sold out every session.
What do you think new Boise State basketball coach Leon Rice is doing on spring break? Making phone calls. First and foremost to prospects for his staff, which Rice calls a “make or break” element of his program. Boise State athletic director Gene Bleymaier said he is dedicating additional resources to assistant coaches’ salaries and the recruiting budget. The staff is front-burner. Said Rice: “That’s what he and I spent probably most of the time talking about actually, is who we can get, who we can afford—and even if we can’t afford ‘em, we don’t care, we’re going to get ‘em.”
Boise State may be in spring break right now, but a lot of the Broncos’ friends around the Northwest are continuing with various stages of spring football. Oregon State opened its spring session yesterday, with the Beavers having lost a couple of projected starters for interesting reasons. Defensive end Matt LaGrone, a former Nevada basketball player, has left the team to reportedly be closer to his wife and daughters, who still live in Reno. And middle linebacker David Pa'aluhi is also gone—the Oregonian says he wants to join the military. OSU coach Mike Riley, who brings the Beavs to Bronco Stadium September 25, says both departures hurt.
Down the road a bit, Oregon spring football starts today. Boise State fans have surely found the turn of events interesting in Eugene. The season-long suspension of quarterback Jeremiah Masoli for stealing laptops from a fraternity house has thrust Darron Thomas into the role of favorite as the Ducks’ 2010 starter. Thomas threw for 210 yards and three touchdowns in the fourth quarter while burning his redshirt year against the Broncos in 2008, falling just short of a stirring come-from-behind victory in a 37-32 loss to BSU at Autzen Stadium. Masoli, of course, threw for only 121 yards the entire game in Oregon’s 19-8 defeat on the blue turf last September.
As Idaho hits full stride in spring football, the Vandals’ goals for 2010 are established, and they will come as no surprise. "Your goal, it better be to win the WAC conference championship,” said coach Robb Akey in the Lewiston Morning Tribune. “That better be one of your goals. And I know I'm not supposed to say things like that, but we're supposed to beat Boise State and the other teams in our conference. Can we go win that this year? Can this football team go make that happen? That's one of the goals that we've gotta put out there for them and we're going to put out there for them."
The Idaho Steelheads face a team that is circling the wagons tonight in Anchorage. The Alaska Aces are part of a wild seven-team race for the remaining six National Conference berths in the Kelly Cup Playoffs next week. The Steelheads are the only team not involved, as they’ve clinched everything possible. But get this: Bakersfield, Stockton, Las Vegas, Ontario, Alaska, Utah, and Victoria are all within five points of each other. The Aces are in better shape than most, sitting one point behind Bakersfield at the top of the logjam. But the Steelheads will still have to contend with an Alaska squad playing playoff-type hockey on the Olympic-sized ice of Sullivan Arena.
The Boise State men’s tennis team, which has won seven straight matches since a loss to Fresno State, puts the streak on the line in Southern California this week. A couple of January rainouts will be made good, as the Broncos go to Pepperdine today and No. 12 UCLA tomorrow. Elsewhere on campus, the Boise State gymnastics team has earned the No. 4 seed in the NCAA Salt Lake City Regional a week from Saturday. If they hit, the 19th-ranked Broncos have an outside shot at nationals (they’ve never made it as a team). And on another campus, the College of Idaho will announce its new men’s basketball coach at a press conference Friday afternoon.
This Day In Sports…March 30, 1941:
The Cougs in the championship game of the NCAA Tournament? Yes, the Washington State Cougars. That’s the day Wisconsin won it all, beating Wazzu 39-34 for the 1941 national title. And, of course, today many are saying that the Badgers’ style hasn’t changed much in 69 years.
(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’s also handled color commentary on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football the last five seasons.)