Friday, April 16, 2010.
The thing about Boise State players who see action as true freshmen, like Austin Pettis and Titus Young did, is: they’re gone before you know it. Blink, and it’s going to be spring of 2011, with talk of Pettis and Young playing at the next level—and which players coming up through the ranks will fill their shoes. At this time just three years back, those guys were seniors in high school, and all we knew was what their bios said (Pettis: “named third-team All-State,” and Young: “named one of the top 10 receivers in the state”). They became phenoms in the fall of 2007, and now they’re seniors-to-be, about 9½ months away from being done. So relish the remaining times you get to see them. The Blue & Orange Game tomorrow night marks your last chance until the first scrimmage of fall camp in August.
Coach Chris Petersen knows what he expects to see on the blue turf tomorrow. He favors the Bronco defense, saying that side of the ball always has the edge this time of year. “If it’s not like that, it doesn’t bode well for the season to come,” said Petersen. On that note, he isn’t shy about his assessment of the defense, but it’s past the point of being a big secret—especially after the Fiesta Bowl. “I think our defense is always underrated, but it’s hard to lay in the weeds these days.”
Ivan Maisel’s video piece from his week in Boise headlines the college football homepage at ESPN.com, including interviews with Ryan Winterswyk, Kellen Moore, Austin Pettis and Chris Petersen. The gist of the Broncos’ comments: they’re aware of the national championship game projections, but they’re bent on separating themselves from that and going about their business like they always have. The gist of Maisel’s take: Boise State continues to break the mold. If the Broncos run the table and play for the national championship, the BCS will sooth its public perception problem. If BSU is undefeated and doesn’t play in the title game, it’ll hear from Congress.
Maisel’s weekly column accompanies his report from the Caven-Williams indoor facility. The best quote comes from Petersen, talking about being content to stay in Boise. "You know, this is a hard job,” said Petersen. “It is a hard job, and people just have no idea. This is going to go on my fifth year. I always say that's 35 years, because coaching is dog years. There's no question. So I've been a head coach 35 years. That's a long time to coach."
A year ago, Vinny Perretta was a darkhorse to get so much as an invitation to an NFL training camp. The former Boise State star ended up doing a lot better than that, lasting until Minnesota’s final cut at the end of the preseason—then being signed to the Vikings practice squad. Alas, by his choice (so he can get on with his life), Perretta has been waived by the Vikes, but it’s been quite a ride. He’s caught passes in practice from Brett Favre and shared the journey with former BSU teammate Ian Johnson, who remains with Minnesota during offseason workouts.
When you gaze at the northeast wall of Qwest Arena, you see the retired numbers of Cal Ingraham and Jeremy Mylymok, and the various championship banners from the Idaho Steelheads’ 13-year history. Included are a couple Kelly Cup banners. The Steelheads’ new ECHL West Division title will look nice on the wall, as will the Brabham Cup banner signifying the league’s best record this season. But the Steelies know it’ll feel kind of hollow without the Kelly Cup, considering the season they’ve had. Some of it is in their control, and some of it isn’t as they open the playoffs tonight against the Utah Grizzlies. “It’s going to come down to special teams and breaks and bounces,” says coach Derek Laxdal.
Now the Steelheads can get serious about avoiding the fate that befell them the past two years in the postseason, unceremonious first round sweeps. Laxdal says the key for his players is to embrace where they are—but don’t take anything for granted. “Don’t get caught up in the home ice advantage,” said Laxdal. “Get that first win under your belts.” Two years ago the tone was set when the Steelheads lost to Alaska in their playoff opener at home, and they fell to Victoria on home ice to start the postseason last year.
When Leon Rice said he would take a hard look at Division I transfers, it was not just idle chatter. The new Boise State basketball coach is already considering at least one, according to the Eugene Register-Guard. Drew Wiley has grown weary of Oregon’s drawn-out search for a new coach and has decided to transfer. His father told the Register-Guard he’s set to visit Boise State this weekend and probably Portland State next week. Wiley, a sophomore from McKenzie River, OR, played in 19 games this past season, averaging just 7½ minutes and 2.2 points.
The “D” in D-League stands for development. From that standpoint, the Idaho Stampede’s Mildon Ambres is the poster boy for the circuit this year, winning the Most Improved Player award. Ambres was one of only two players to appear in all 50 of the team’s games. The 6-5 guard from Southern Nazarene scored in double figures 38 times, topped by a 32-point night just over two weeks ago in the 165-153 overtime victory over Rio Grande Valley Vipers that was the highest-scoring game in D-League history.
The 33rd annual Race To Robie Creek will have its usual wild and crazy field when it takes off tomorrow from Fort Boise Park and meanders over Aldape Summit. The race has been raided by the calendar, though, as it sometimes is. Patriot Day in Boston falls on Monday, and the Boston Marathon has taken away some top runners, including defending women’s champion Cori Mooney. Sail Toad staffer Brian Rencher thinks Mooney could finish among the top 20 Americans in Boston. Meanwhile, the defending men’s champion, Pat McCurry, is back. McCurry is the head track and cross country coach at the College of Idaho.
Time for the annual declaration: “Yes, there is college baseball in the valley.” And what a weekend for baseball. NNU is home against Central Washington in a pair of twin bills today and tomorrow at Vail Field in Nampa. The College of Idaho hosts Concordia for doubleheaders tomorrow and Sunday at Wolfe Field in Caldwell. The Coyotes are ranked 23rd in the NAIA.
This Day In Sports…April 16, 1999:
After a landmark 20-year career in the NHL, Wayne Gretzky announces his retirement. Gretzky’s pro career started at the age of 17 and peaked during his years with the Edmonton Oilers and L.A. Kings, as he won 10 NHL scoring titles. The Great One is hockey’s all-time scoring leader—by almost 1,000 points. Gretzky’s no. 99 is the only uniform number to be retired across the entire NHL.
(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.)