Thursday, January 23, 2014.
It’s probably time that Boise State gets any obsession with the NCAA Tournament out of its collective mind and perfects the one game-at-a-time thing. The Broncos have lost six of their last 11 games and are 3-3 in Mountain West play. They were 2-4 in conference at this time last year and still made the Big Dance, but in 2013 the MW was a five-bid league. The general consensus is that the Mountain West would be lucky to get three in the tournament this year. And if there are only two, it’s going to be difficult to bypass No. 7 San Diego State and New Mexico. So Boise State needs to shoot for a decent seed in the conference tournament in Las Vegas—and then at least make the championship game. The next step awaits Saturday night against San Jose State in Taco Bell Arena.
It’s probably also time Boise State sheds the “City of Threes” moniker. Opponents have been all geeked up for the Broncos’ three-pointers and are generally thwarting them. Jeff Elorriaga can hardly even get a three attempted anymore. BSU has been under 36 percent (and then some) from beyond the arc in four of its last five games. The 1-for-12 start at New Mexico Tuesday night was a nightmare. So what is the Broncos’ identity if it’s no longer the three-pointer? It’s opportunism, energy and effort. What they’re doing on the boards right now is saving them, and deservedly so. Boise State outrebounded the Lobos 41-28 Tuesday. The Broncos have won the battle of the boards in all six Mountain West games with an average margin of +10.5. That is really something.
Any surprises in the Mountain West last night? Well, no. No. 7 San Diego State swamped San Jose State 75-50, the Aztecs’ 16th consecutive victory. Nevada got back on track with a 96-86 double-overtime win at Fresno State. UNLV evened its conference record at 3-3 with a 62-42 rout of Utah State at the Thomas & Mack Center. And Wyoming picked up its third straight win by rallying for a 66-59 triumph at Air Force.
The last recruiting “contact period” before National Letter Of Intent Day began a week ago today, and there’s a lot happenin’ out there. Yesterday one of Boise State’s targets, quarterback KJ Carta-Samuels out of San Jose, committed to Washington after visiting both BSU and UW. On Tuesday, the Broncos lost one of their commits to the Huskies, offensive lineman Jesse Sosebee. Boise State did, however, retain offensive lineman Troy Bacon. The moral of the story: it’ll all come out in the wash. Tweeted Bronco defensive coordinator Marcel Yates yesterday: “I am back in my power zone, Los Angeles, CA. I’ve been really quiet but it’s about to get real loud.”
Could Boise State get wide receiver Shay Fields back? Maybe. Eric Sondheimer of the L.A. Times reported earlier this week that Fields, the wide receiver from St. John Bosco in Bellflower, CA, who had reneged on the Broncos in late October and flipped to USC, has a new final three that doesn’t include the Trojans: Boise State, California and Colorado. He told Scout.com he’s had little contact with USC since Steve Sarkisian was hired as coach. Fields took his official visit to Colorado last weekend.
The plan for Shea McClellin in Chicago is a move from defensive end to linebacker, and there’ll be new coaches in charge of both positions for the Bears as the former Boise State star makes the transition this year. While defensive coordinator Mel Tucker will be retained by the team, D-line coach Mike Phair and linebackers coach Tim Tibesar were both released. The new LB coach will be Reggie Herring, who held the same post in Houston before the Texans staff was fired. The defensive line job will likely go to long-time Syracuse and short-time Connecticut coach Paul Pasqualoni, who has been hired for the defensive side of the ball in Chicago without a specific assignment yet. The switch to ‘backer is seen as a much better fit for McClellin, who’ll be able to utilize his speed more.
Graham DeLaet is finally back in action today at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines. The former Boise State standout is quickly becoming a household name in pro golf. DeLaet is the No. 27 “Player To Watch” this season at PGATour.com. “He's good off the tee, a fantastic iron player and makes a lot of birdies. Add it all up and he should win soon,” wrote Brian Wacker of PGATour.com. “DeLaet's biggest asset is his physical conditioning, which allows him to make a very powerful, albeit somewhat unorthodox swing,” wrote the site’s Mark Immelman. “He parlays good length off the tee into a solid iron game which gets him plenty of legitimate looks at birdies. His biggest challenge is playing with the collective expectation of his home nation on his back.” Boy howdy. Oh, Canada.
Catching up on Idaho ties in the Winter Olympics—there are two more this week. Rigby High graduate Jessika Jenson is slated to be one of the trailblazers as slopestyle makes its Winter Games debut. And Sun Valley’s Jasmine Campbell will be skiing slalom for the U.S. Virgin Islands. Campbell, who was born in the USVI, will be that territory’s only Olympian, so she’ll be the flag-bearer at Opening Ceremonies.
As the new Sports Illustrated comes out, I didn’t want to let this go from the last one: some pub for Ketchum native and former Idaho Steelhead Cody Lampl. In a story about Iowa’s “Fran McCaffrey Bobblehead Night” having to be postponed because the Hawkeyes coach had been suspended for that game, Lampl got a mention for his bobblehead event with the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye November 29. Lampl wasn’t there, having been called up to the AHL a couple weeks earlier. Said a “bummed” Lampl in SI, “I think it’s the biggest honor you can get. That an organization feels enough about you to make a caricature of you and pass it out to fans is something you’d never dream of.” Never thought of it that way. Lampl has played 21 games for the St. John’s Icecaps of the AHL this season and has no points and 19 penalty minutes.
Haven’t mentioned Idaho Stampede star Pierre Jackson in awhile. Like, almost a week? The Baylor and College of Southern Idaho product scored 44 points last night, recording his fifth 40-point game of the season in the Stampede’s 125-120 loss to the D-League’s top team, Rio Grande Valley. Jackson went 17-for-29 from the field with four three-pointers. He also contributed seven rebounds and seven assists. The difference in the game was the 16 three-pointers drained by the Vipers. The Stampede travel to Austin tonight.
This Day In Sports…January 23, 1980:
In his State of the Union message, President Jimmy Carter announces the U.S. Olympic team will not participate in the Summer Olympics in Moscow to protest the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan the previous December. The U.S. was one of 65 countries that did not go to the Moscow Games, although those missing presented a number of reasons for their absence. To retaliate, the Soviet Union led a boycott of the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles that included 14 countries.
(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.)