Wednesday, March 6, 2013.
Turnovers and fouls did Boise State in last night in a huge game that was within the Broncos’ grasp. In a game of runs, BSU saw a 10-point lead wither away in the final nine minutes as the Rebels racked the final run and won, 68-64. Boise State committed 17 turnovers, and many of them were untimely and got UNLV’s motor going. That can happen to a young team, and so can what coach Leon Rice calls “stupid fouls.” The parade of Broncos going in and out of the game disrupted the flow. But on the KBOI postgame show Rice didn’t call the the mistake-laden end of his team’s four-game winning streak a step back. “It’s nothing terrible—it’s nothing you can’t fix,” Rice said. “It’s part of growing up.”
The ultimate turning point came with 3:23 remaining in the game, when Derrick Marks fouled out on an Anthony Marshall basket and plus-one that gave UNLV the lead back for good at 58-56. Then Anthony Drmic picked up his fifth foul with 1:03 left, and that was it. Drmic was brilliant, scoring a game-high 22 points with eight rebounds and five assists. But it was not Marks’ night, 72 hours after his memorable performance against Colorado State. He had two fouls and turned the ball over five times in the first half. Marks then collected more pine in the second half when he was whistled for foul No. 4 with 15½ minutes remaining. The sophomore guard finished with four points and seven turnovers in 18 minutes.
Boise State was an 8½-point underdog and fell by four to a UNLV team that was No. 14 in the NCAA’s RPI ratings—in front of 15,295 at the Thomas and Mack Center. So it shouldn’t put a big dent in the Broncos’ RPI of 44, right? But it is a loss, and Boise State doesn’t have lot of hoops equity nationally. No assumptions can be made about BSU’s resume being strong enough for an at-large bid in the NCAA Tournament. That makes Saturday’s regular season home finale against San Diego State a must-win for the Broncos. Short of that, they would need a strong run in the Mountain West Tournament. Not that Rice isn’t embracing that route either way. Boise State may see UNLV again. “We hope we get a chance to face them, no question,” said Rice. “I like the fact we got to come down here and play the week before the tournament—get the setting.”
Spring football started yesterday at Washington as the Huskies look forward to the grand re-opening of Husky Stadium—and a rematch against Boise State—on August 31. Coach Steve Sarkisian made a pre-spring declaration at a Monday press conference: “Keith Price is our starting quarterback." But Price was spotty all last season, as he was in UW’s loss to the Broncos in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas. That makes spring ball interesting, despite the fact Price is going to be a senior. He could be challenged by freshman Cyler Miles, coming off his redshirt year, or even greenshirt Troy Williams, who graduated early from high school to enroll at Washington in time for spring drills. Boise State gathers for the spring next Monday.
At first glance yesterday, it looked like Boise State may have missed out on a one-time-only windfall by staying in the Mountain West. Big East football schools reportedly are to get almost all of a $110 million payout in the settlement that clears the way for the “Catholic 7” basketball schools to break away and take the Big East name with them. About $100 million is designated for the football schools, but most of it is expected to land in the hands of conference old-timers Cincinnati, Connecticut and South Florida.
Former Boise State star Billy Winn is front-and-center in an Akron Beacon-Journal feature on Cleveland’s switch to a multi-front 3-4 defense under new coordinator Ray Horton. Winn, the Browns’ sixth-round draft pick last year, is up for the challenge of a new role after a solid rookie season. "I feel comfortable with anything," said Winn at a public appearance for the team last Thursday. "I'm putting myself out there to play wherever they need me to play. If they need me to play inside, I'll play inside. If they need me to play outside, I'll play outside. I'm excited to get going." Winn told writer Ryan Lewis variety was the spice of life at Boise State, where the Broncos ran versions of the 3-4, 4-3 and 4-2-5 schemes.
The Colorado Eagles came into CenturyLink Arena last night leading the ECHL on the power play, but it was the Idaho Steelheads who had the upper hand on special teams. Austin Smith and Patrick Cullity cashed in on the man-advantage, keying a 4-2 Steelheads victory. The Steelies lead the ECHL in a more telling statistic, a plus-55 goal differential on home ice (131-76). Josh Robinson was solid again between the pipes, making 39 saves while improving his record to 22-6-4. The win was the 400th regular season triumph in Idaho’s ECHL era. Before the game, the Eagles placed Sun Valley’s Joey Sides on the 21-day injured reserve list, so it’s another missed homecoming on the ice for Sides. The Steelheads and Colorado play again tonight.
Former Idaho Steelhead Steve Oleksy has been called up by the Washington Capitals and made his NHL debut last night against the Boston Bruins. And the 27-year-old defenseman notched an assist in 10 minutes of ice time in helping Washington rally from a 3-0 deficit to a 4-3 overtime victory. Despite 151 penalty minutes and 11 fights in 55 games in the AHL with Hershey this season, Caps coach Adam Oates maintains that Oleksy wasn’t just signed to be a fighter. Oleksy spent parts of three seasons in Boise from 2009-12. In 102 games with the Steelheads, he had 38 points and logged 253 penalty minutes.
Other basketball notes: the Idaho Stampede used balance to pick up a nice win at Sioux Falls last night. Six Stamps hit double figures to beat the Skyforce, 109-102, in a game that featured 18 lead changes. And the Eastern Oregon men, including Treasure Valley products Michael Crane from Glenns Ferry and John Buhler of Middleton, face Midland of Nebraska this morning in the first round of the NAIA Division II men’s tournament in Point Lookout, MO. The Mountaineers, who slipped to No. 8 in the final NAIA Division II poll, are 28-4.
In women’s hoops, the Boise State women play their final home game tonight in Taco Bell Arena versus UNLV. It’s Senior Night for the Broncos, whose feature honoree is one of their all-time greats, Eagle High product Lauren Lenhardt. The College of Idaho women open the NAIA Division II National Tournament against Oklahoma Wesleyan tonight in Sioux City, IA. The Lady Yotes are 21-8, while their foes are 24-5.
This Day In Sports…March 6, 2000:
The highest-scoring game in the NBA career of Shaquille O’Neal, who put up 61 points and pulled down 23 rebounds in the L.A. Lakers’ 123-103 win over the L.A. Clippers. And Shaq did it on his 28th birthday. O’Neal was in his fourth season with the Lakers and would be named NBA Most Valuable Player and win his first NBA championship—and the Lakers repeated the following two seasons. Shaquille O’Neal…41 years old today.
(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.)