Thursday, March 21, 2013.
LaSalle imposed its will on Boise State last night, downing the Broncos 80-71 in the NCAA Tournament’s First Four in Dayton. The Explorers said going in they just take what the defense gives them. When the Broncos clogged the inside, LaSalle would hit three-pointers. Again and again. Often Boise State found itself trading twos for threes, allowing the Explorers to gradually extend the lead in each half, with the margin reaching 14 points three times. The first time was an exclamation point in the first half, when Ramon Galloway threw down an alley-oop for a 31-17 advantage. When the Broncos clamped down on the perimeter, LaSalle would use its superior quickness to penetrate and score. It was “pick your poison” against a very athletic team, and BSU’s season ends at 21-11.
When Boise State scores 70 or more points, it usually wins. When the Broncos shoot 49 percent from the field, they’re usually triumphant. But LaSalle shot a lights-out 63 percent from the field and was 11-of-21 from beyond the arc, with nimble guards Tyrone Garland and Galloway scoring 22 and 21 points, respectively. Boise State couldn’t get stops versus the Explorers’ quickness. “That’s an area we’re going to get better at next year,” said coach Leon Rice on the KBOI postgame show Wednesday night.
Ah, to be the most celebrated Australian in Dayton. Anthony Drmic at least rivaled his countryman, Saint Mary’s star Matthew Dellavedova, who led the Gaels to a First Four win Tuesday night. Drmic tweaked his knee midway through the first half but played through it to score a game-high 28 points, the most ever by a Boise State player in the NCAA Tournament. The sophomore did it inside and out, nailing five three-pointers to keep the Broncos at least within shouting distance of the Explorers. Drmic was Boise State’s most consistent player this season, leading the way with 17.7 points per game. And he has two years left.
Derrick Marks had another streaky game, but he did produce a stretch in the second half that showed what lies ahead for the supremely talented sophomore guard. Marks scored 12 of his 14 points in the final 8½ minutes of the game. The first half was another story, though. He had a couple inexplicable turnovers that LaSalle turned into sudden-change points as the Explorers separated themselves from the Broncos.
In Sports Illustrated’s NCAA Tournament 75th Anniversary issue, there’s a photo of Steve Alford cutting down the nets after Indiana won the 1987 national championship. Alford, of course, is now the coach at New Mexico, and the pressure is on to get something done in this year’s Dance on behalf of the Mountain West. The conference can thank 2012. Four MW teams lost their opening games in the NCAA Tournament last year, including No. 6 seeds UNLV and San Diego State, who were both upset by No. 11 seeds. The Lobos were fifth-seeded and were the only team to advance when the field was whittled to 32—then they lost to fourth-seeded Louisville. New Mexico, UNLV and Colorado State all play tonight.
Former Skyview High star Kyle Dranginis may have his best shot at seeing NCAA Tournament action today, when top-seeded Gonzaga opens play against Southern University in Salt Lake City. Dranginis, a redshirt freshman, has been a reserve for the Zags this season as they’ve compiled a 31-2 record and risen to No. 1 in the polls. The two-time Idaho 4A Player of the year has played in 32 of Gonzaga’s 33 games, averaging three points. Dranginis has been in double figures twice this season, including a 30-point night against Lewis-Clark State in December.
So far, so good on Boise State’s Mountain West deal. The Broncos have announced a seven-year contract that gives ESPN the rights to all their home games—and guarantees that at least three every season will be shown on ESPN, ESPN2 or ABC. That triggers the Mountain West clause that pays $300,000 per game for national TV appearances, giving Boise State at least $900,000 in additional TV revenue per year. And the Broncos will get an extra $200,000 for any of those games that stay on Saturday. Also, this agreement virtually guarantees Washington, Washington State, Oregon State and Virginia they’ll get national telecasts on ESPN, ESPN2 or ABC for traveling to Bronco Stadium over the next seven seasons.
Boise State’s Pro Day is set for today, with field drills to be held at the Caven-Williams indoor facility. The two Broncos who attended the NFL Combine, Jamar Taylor and D.J. Harper, will both be there. Taylor had such a solid Combine that he’ll do just the position work today and skip most of the drills. And how about this: just 4½ months after a torn ACL ended his college career, Mike Atkinson will run the 40-yard dash at Pro Day. Jarrell Root, one season removed from his Boise State career, will also go through the regimen, hoping to get another NFL free agent shot (he was in training camp last August with the Dolphins). Among others expected to go through the testing: Dextrell Simmons, Tommy Smith, JC Percy, Dan Paul and Jerrell Gavins.
Fresh off an exhilarating but exhausting sweep of the Alaska Aces in the far-off Frozen North, the Idaho Steelheads didn’t have their usual zip last night and fell to Ontario, 5-3, in CenturyLink Arena. This three-game series against the Reign is good Kelly Cup Playoffs prep for the Steelheads, because there can be some crazy travel turnarounds in the postseason. And, more importantly, because Ontario’s pretty good. Forward Tyler Gron scored two more goals for the Steelheads last night—he now has 19 goals and 30 points total in 30 games since joining the Steelies in mid-January. Idaho and Ontario resume the series tomorrow night.
The Idaho Stampede bounced back last night, topping the L.A. D-Fenders 116-106 with a solid offensive performance in El Segundo. The Stampede had a rare hot night from the field, shooting better than 51 percent with three players hitting the 20-point plateau. They were led by—you guessed it—Justin Holiday with 25 points (he also had four steals). Former Boise State star Coby Karl and Justin Harper added 20 apiece. Bulletin: the Stampede have pulled out of last place in the D-League’s West Division for the first time this season, moving a half-game ahead of Reno. The Stamps go up the coast to face the Santa Cruz Warriors tomorrow night.
Five Boise State wrestlers begin competition today at the NCAA Championships in Des Moines, IA, with three Broncos seeded in the meet. All-American Jason Chamberlain enters the tournament as a No. 2 seed at 149 pounds and will face Caleb Ervin of Illinois in the first round. Jake Swartz is the No. 10 seed at 184, taking on James Cook of Campbell. And heavyweight J.T. Felix is seeded 11th and is matched against Justin Grant of Bloomsburg. George Ivanov and Brian Owen are also representing the Broncos in the tournament. One Boise State men’s tennis note: the Bronco sophomore Garrett Patton is the Mountain West Player of the Week for his role in the team’s championship at the Blue-Gray Classic last weekend. Patton is one of Boise’s own, the son of the General.
This Day In Sports…March 21, 2008, five years ago today:
Boise State returns to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 14 years and faces No. 3 seed Louisville in the East Regional at Birmingham. It was a game effort by the senior-laden WAC champions, but the Cardinals jumped out early with pressure defense and a hot hand at the other end. BSU was 4-of-17 from three-point range, and UL was 12-of-24, as coach Rick Pitino made that a focal point of his attack at both ends of the floor for this game. That spelled the difference in a 79-61 Louisville victory. Matt Nelson led the Broncos with 17 points and seven rebounds in his final game.
(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.)