Thursday, February 20, 2014.
The “City of Threes” nickname applied to Boise State’s basketball team at the beginning of the year was a clever idea—until it took on the feel of the Sports Illustrated jinx. After feasting on threes through November and December, the Broncos went 7-of-34 from three-point range combined in narrow January losses to San Diego State and Wyoming, and the moniker was put on the shelf. It’s not necessarily being dusted off now, but at least life beyond the arc is a subject again.
Boise State shot 59 percent from long-range Tuesday night at Colorado State, its best performance against a Division I team this season. The accuracy was the best in a conference game in six years. The Broncos have made eight or more three-pointers in each of their last four games. They just don’t want anyone to dwell on it—especially UNLV, their Saturday night guest, smarting after a 68-56 home loss to New Mexico last night.
The makeup of Boise State’s bench changed in the win in Fort Collins Tuesday. There was no Jake Ness, no Joe Hanstad, and just three scoreless minutes from Dezmyn Trent, who had put up seven points in 11 minutes versus New Mexico last week. Coach Leon Rice subbed in three players other than Trent, but two of them were former starters, Jeff Elorriaga and Igor Hadziomerovic. Then, of course, there was Thomas Bropleh, the Broncos’ bench player of the year. Boise State’s notched 29 bench points at CSU, 18 of them from Bropleh. The Broncos’ 84 points Tuesday night were, by the way, their most ever in a Mountain West road game.
Boise State’s trio of Demarcus Lawrence, Charles Leno and Matt Paradis this year at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis doesn’t move the meter in SI.com’s “top 40 prospects entering the scouting combine.” But Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr is listed at No. 34. Writes Doug Farrar: “Carr will need scheme help at the NFL level, and I don’t think there’s any question about that. He’ll be best-suited to a spread-style team that gives him enough free space to make throws all over the field—which he can do. However, he still telegraphs his reads, gets balky under pressure and doesn’t throw with consistent mechanics. A project quarterback worth the risk.” I think Bronco fans saw all of the above in Boise State’s 41-40 loss in Bulldog Stadium last September.
Word is that Boise State has yet another former Bronco lined up for Bryan Harsin’s coaching staff. Taylor Tharp, a quarterback for BSU from 2004-07 who started as a senior, has left his graduate assistant’s post at Texas to return to his alma mater. Harsin helped bring him into the Longhorns’ fold in 2012, and Tharp stayed last year after Harsin became head coach at Arkansas State. Tharp was sandwiched between Jared Zabransky and Kellen Moore as Boise State’s starter, and his numbers have since been underappreciated. In 2007, Tharp threw for 3,340 yards and 30 touchdowns, completing a then-record 68 percent of his attempts.
This could be the day that gets Boise’s Brian Scott into Sunday’s Daytona 500. Scott starts in the sixth spot among 24 cars in the second of twin 150 races that will decide 31 of the 33 starting positions at Daytona. The top 15 drivers in each of the Budweiser Duels, excluding qualifying winners Austin Dillon and Martin Truex Jr. from last weekend, earn spots for the Daytona 500. Scott was 12th in qualifying, running 194.776 in his Shore Lodge Camaro.
With one game to go, Hilary Knight has recorded five points in the Olympic women’s hockey tournament (three goals and two assists). She’ll make any contribution she can—points or no points—in that one remaining contest. Knight and the U.S. face bitter rival Canada this morning for the gold medal in Sochi. She’s been waiting for this chance since the Canadians beat the U.S. for the gold in Vancouver in 2010. Or maybe since last Wednesday, when Canada topped the Americans 3-2 in preliminary play, when Knight scored the first goal of the game. What’s next for Knight? She has said she wants to play men’s hockey in Sweden.
Graham DeLaet was upset by Patrick Reed yesterday in the first round of the WCG Accenture Match Play Championship in the Arizona desert. It went to the final hole when Reed, already 1-up, sank a par putt to end it. DeLaet nearly holed a 40-foot birdie putt on the 18th to force extra holes. "Graham is a great player," Reed said at PGATour.com. "If you're not completely throwing him away and beating him badly, he's going to claw back."
The Utah Grizzlies had an answer for the Idaho Steelheads last night in the form of goaltender Igor Bobkov. Hey, Russia could have used its native son against Finland yesterday in Sochi, do you think? Bobkov stopped 26 of the 27 shots he faced, including all 10 in the third period, as Utah slowed the streaking Steelheads, 2-1. That offset another solid performance from Steelies netminder Pat Nagle, who recorded 25 saves. Don’t look now, but Nagle has moved up to third in the ECHL this season with a .928 save percentage. Nagle has been Idaho’s main man for almost two months now—Josh Robinson has been with the Texas Stars since Christmas. The Steelheads and Grizzlies have one more in West Valley City tomorrow night before both teams bus to Boise Saturday.
While the impact of Pierre Jackson has dominated Idaho Stampede talk this season, Jason Ellis has been fairly anonymous as he continues to lug his lunch pail to work every day. Last night the 31-year-old former Boise State star posted his first double-double of the season as the Stampede blitzed the Maine Red Claws 122-99 in CenturyLink Arena. Ellis had 11 points and a stellar 18 rebounds in a game that saw Stampede coach Mike Peck forced to go with only six players. Jackson, the D-League’s leading scorer and long overdue for an NBA shot, sat out for “personal reasons.” It’ll be interesting to see what that means. Will he be with the Stamps when they visit the L.A. D-Fenders tomorrow night? The NBA trade deadline is upon us.
Colorado State demonstrated why it’s the Mountain West women’s basketball leader in Taco Bell Arena last night. The Rams took a Boise State team that had been on a roll and turned it inside out, winning 71-51. Both teams shot 40 percent from the field, but CSU grabbed 14 offensive rebounds and forced a whopping 25 turnovers to earn a slew of extra chances. The second-place Broncos fall to 14-10 overall and 9-4 in conference. Also on the women’s side, the Boise State swimming and diving team is in second place behind Nevada after the first day of the Mountain West Championships in San Antonio.
This Day In Sports…February 20, 1998:
At the age of 15, Tara Lipinski becomes the youngest Winter Olympics figure skating gold medalist in history when she wins the ladies singles competition at Nagano. Lipinski had finished second to Michelle Kwan in the short program but produced a flawless long program that was more than enough to overtake Kwan for the gold. It would be Lipinski’s only Olympics, as she would turn pro in April of that year. Her milestone has now been eclipsed at the Sochi Olympics by Russia’s 15-year-old team gold medalist, Julia Lipnitskaya.
(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.)