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Broncos picked a bad time for this implosion

by Tom Scott

Bio | Follow: @thescottslant


Posted on February 8, 2010 at 8:32 AM

Updated Monday, Feb 8 at 8:38 AM


Monday, February 8, 2010.
At the very least, the table was set for Boise State to right the ship in a rocky season. At the most, it was a chance to counter a low point from the previous season, when Idaho rallied to a 56-54 win before 10,246 mostly stunned fans in Taco Bell Arena. This time, the Broncos were on a modest two-game winning streak and had a full week of rest and preparation for a team it had beaten 12 days earlier. The Vandals were playing their third road game in eight days and were coming off an 18-point loss at Utah State. In an epic meltdown, BSU watched Idaho go on a 25-3 first half run and was torpedoed off its home floor, 79-55. 
The problem with this one is the same as it was with the Bronco-Vandal game a year ago—the lasting impression. The biggest crowd of the season, 7,734, had to sit through it. With Boise State’s average attendance under 3,000 going in, there were lots of people trying out Bronco basketball for the first time this season. Of course, those in black and gold had an entirely different impression.
The focal point of the game, for so many reasons, was Anthony Thomas. Boise State looks to Thomas as its senior leader, but what a wildly inconsistent season he’s had. After seemingly negating a guarantee gone bad in leading the Broncos to their overtime win at Idaho two weeks ago, Thomas was held scoreless by a tremendous Vandal defensive effort. He had scored 17 points in Cowan Spectrum, including the game-tying three-pointer at the buzzer in regulation, while hearing the taunts for his declaration last year that he’d never lose to Idaho again. 
If there’s any consolation for the Broncos, they’re not all alone in last place in the WAC. Fresno State did them a favor, beating Hawaii 61-51 in Honolulu Saturday night to keep the Warriors in a tie for the basement. But the sting remains. It’s the most lopsided loss by Boise State in the series that now completes its 40th year. It’s also the worst for the Broncos in five years, since they fell at Louisiana Tech 93-60 in 2005. It’s the largest home defeat in over 10 years, since a 78-46 loss to Cincinnati in December, 1999. And it’s the biggest conference loss at home in 15 years, since an 89-63 Big Sky setback against Montana State in 1995. That makes the loss to the Vandals the second worst by BSU in a conference game since the Pavilion/Taco Bell Arena opened over 27 years ago.
Relief for Bronco fans comes in the form of football, so here goes. There’s a reason Boise State was intent on recruiting newly-signed safety Jeremy Ioane out of Honolulu last fall. Hawaii is ripe with high school talent. A study by the Tulsa World showed that Hawaii produced more players per capita on FBS rosters last season than any other state. In fact, Hawaii’s ratio was 50 percent higher than the next best state. And Honolulu was the top metro area, 40 percent above perennial hotbed New Orleans. Ioane, by the way, provided one of two surprises on the Islands during signing day. V.J. Fehoko, the son of Hawaii’s mascot, “Vili The Warrior,” chose Utah over the team he grew up with at UH.
Kyle Wilson has resumed training in Orlando under speed coach Tom Shaw at Disney's Wide World of Sports. The former Boise State star is working with Shaw in preparation for the NFL Combine, which starts February 24 in Indianapolis. The dividends from Wilson’s impressive week of practice at the Senior Bowl are evident. Mel Kiper Jr. has him ranked 23rd now for April’s NFL Draft, while Scouts Inc. puts him at No. 27. Former Idaho offensive guard Mike Iupati, who also wowed ‘em during Senior Bowl workouts, is No. 17 on the Scouts Inc. list.
Former Boise Burn offensive lineman Kyle DeVan was part of a Colts front that kept the Saints off Peyton Manning in Super Bowl XLIV. DeVan couldn’t play defense against Drew Brees, though. And he couldn’t tell Manning not to throw a certain fourth quarter pass, as New Orleans was successful in its first Super Bowl, 31-17. DeVan was whistled for one false start, but all in all he was solid. I just wish the Who were as I remembered them when I played ‘em on the radio.
The Idaho Steelheads will take two out of three any weekend, and they’ll take a three-goal package any night. The Steelheads picked up two wins in their three-game series at Las Vegas, and they also got a second hat-track. Unlike the three-goal splurge by Tyler Spurgeon Thursday night, Mark Derlago’s trick Saturday led to a victory as the Steelies dropped the Wranglers 4-2 in Orleans Arena. Derlago is on a major roll—he now has a 12-game point streak. The 24-year-old left wing has tallied seven goals in his last five games. The Steelheads wrapped up their six games on the road by collecting 11 of a possible 12 points. They return to Qwest Arena Wednesday night against the Utah Grizzlies.
February isn’t proving to be any kinder to the Idaho Stampede than January was. It’s essentially a new team, and the results are diametrically opposed to those of the early season. The Stampede are now below .500 after falling at Sioux Falls and Dakota over the weekend, but they finished strong in both games. And in Saturday night’s 113-103 loss to the Wizards, the newcomers broke out, with Andre Barrett scoring 31 points and Joe Dabbert 20. The Stampede’s road trip wraps up tomorrow night and Wednesday night in Reno.
The Boise State men’s tennis team got a tougher-than-expected test from Utah State Saturday, winning 4-3 before shutting out Weber State 7-0. Harry Skinner, a sophomore from Twickenham, England, who was finally cleared by the NCAA to play for the Broncos, made his BSU debut with wins in both his matches at No. 2 singles. Skinner, who coach Greg Patton calls “quicker than a mongoose,” transferred to Boise State when Arizona State dropped its men’s tennis program. The eighth-ranked Boise State wrestling team, meanwhile, is in danger of falling out of the top 10 after suffering its second upset in three weeks—this one a 22-20 loss at Utah Valley.
This Day In Sports…February 8, 2006:
Just two days after being seemingly left in the lurch by the resignation of Nick Holt, Idaho announces the return of Dennis Erickson as head coach. Holt had a 5-18 record in his two seasons, but Erickson—with two national championships and a legacy of college football turnarounds in his career—was expected to flip those numbers. We’ll never know, as Erickson lasted just 10 months before bolting for Arizona State, going 4-8 in his one season with the Vandals. He had started his head coaching career with Idaho in 1982, going 32-15 in four seasons.
(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.)