Friday, February 1, 2013.
Can’t let this one go without referring to it. Anyone who saw cancer patient Stephen Kinsey holding Shea McClellin’s hand, leading Boise State onto the blue turf carrying the “Hammer” before the Hawaii game in 2010, won’t soon forget it. Cornerback Jamar Taylor certainly didn’t. Kinsey was “Coach for a Day” as a Make-A-Wish Foundation recipient. Now 14, Kinsey is still in a grueling bout with non-Hodgkins lymphoma. That is not lost on Taylor. As KTVB’s Jay Tust showed via photos this week, Taylor did something special for Kinsey after the Senior Bowl.
Here’s part of how Taylor told his story via Instagram: “Stephen is a big Boise State fan and he's fighting cancer. He has been someone that's been on my mind since the day he coached. I always told myself if I could help him get healthy then I would. I don't have the funds by any means as of now, but I know joy is good for the heart. So today I sent Stephen my (Senior Bowl) practice jersey, a letter and a picture of me and coach Pete. I'm not doing this for anything in return I just want to see the little guy happy. To be that young and fighting cancer is rough. I'm using my platform to make someone else happy. Sometimes we have to take the time out and help others. The money and game don't mean anything. But to be remembered as a person who cares for others can take you a long way!” All of the items were autographed. You go, Jamar.
Maybe that ties into this next story—maybe it doesn’t. Talking about the “OKG’s” (our kinda guys) that make up the bulk of Boise State’s roster. Next Wednesday is National Letter of Intent Day, and Brian Freneau of ESPN.com looks at it from a different angle. Boise State will probably end up with a recruiting class in the top 50, which would be its highest ranking ever. But it’s still not top 25, where the Broncos reside in the polls. Freneau ranks the top five recruiting overachievers, schools that routinely beat teams with recruits rated higher than theirs. He has Boise State at No. 1, noting the Broncos three-year record as the “less talented team” as 14-2. The rest of Freneau’s top five: Stanford, Northern Illinois, TCU and South Carolina.
Our former Bronco NFLer of the Day—the last one in the series—is Tyler Shoemaker, who just signed with the Kansas City Chiefs. It’s great to see Shoemaker get this second opportunity in the NFL. The wide receiver out of Mountain View High signed as an undrafted free agent last April with Tampa Bay but left in the spring, saying the Buccaneers weren’t a good fit. No one else picked Shoemaker up in 2012, and it looked like he was going to settle into the business world in Boise. But now he can see if a senior year that featured 62 catches and a school-record 16 touchdown receptions can be parlayed into a paycheck.
Mike Iupati’s resume is already pretty darn good. As an Idaho offensive tackle who often beat double-teams, he was a consensus All-American and paved the way for the Vandals’ 8-5 season and Humanitarian Bowl victory in 2009. Iupati was a first round draft pick of San Francisco the following April and has started all 47 games of his NFL career so far. He was selected to the Pro Bowl this year for the first time but didn’t play in last week’s game—because Sunday he’ll be looking for the line he’d like to add to his resume most: Super Bowl champion. Iupati will undoubtedly get an earful from Baltimore’s Ray Lewis while he protects Colin Kaepernick. I’d love to be a fly on the field to hear Iupati give some back.
Before Wednesday night’s Boise State loss at Colorado State, advance sales were strong for the UNLV hoops matchup tomorrow night in Taco Bell Arena. Coach Leon Rice is hopeful Bronco fans are understanding of the adversity his team is facing and will continue to buy tickets for one of the marquee home games on the schedule. “We need our crowd out there, because our guys are going to battle,” said Rice on his KBOI postgame show Wednesday. “We’re going to get through this, and keep fighting.” The status of Jeff Elorriaga’s concussion is to be determined, Derrick Marks has hopefully stopped throwing up, and Thomas Bropleh is trying to get by with a fracture in his wrist. All Rice wants is a full-strength unit.
We talk about Boise State being a three-point shooting team. Well, UNLV has the history, currently holding the NCAA record for consecutive games with at least one made three-pointer. Since the three-point line was officially adopted 26 years ago, the Rebels have connected on at least one trey in all 861 of their games. This season UNLV is middle-of-the-pack, hitting 34 percent from beyond the arc. Right now it’s all about talent, including fabulous freshman forward Anthony Bennett, who’s one of 12 players on the midseason watch list for the Oscar Robertson Trophy that goes to the National Player of the Year. Bennett is also a semifinalist for the Wayman Tisdale Award that honors the Freshman of the Year. Bennett leads the Mountain West in scoring at 18.1 points per game and hit double figures in each of his first 17 collegiate games.
The Idaho Stampede begin February with a six-game homestand, tipping off tonight and tomorrow night against the L.A. D-Fenders. As the Stampede hit the halfway point of the 2012-13 season, three players have appeared in every game so far: Durrell Summers, Coby Karl and Justin Harper. Summers is the Stamps’ leading scorer at 14 points per game. Karl, the former Boise State star and son of Denver Nuggets coach George Karl, leads in assists with an average output of 5.8. And Harper has been the top contributor off the bench, with 10½ points and 5½ rebounds per game. The Stamps begin the weekend with a 7-17 record, while Los Angeles is 9-15.
Sometimes it just takes a change of scenery—and chemistry. David Toews got that when he was cut loose by the Bakersfield Condors and quickly picked up by the Idaho Steelheads. Toews, the younger brother of Chicago Blackhawks star Jonathan Toews, came along at the right time, during the exodus of talent to the AHL after the NHL lockout ended. He has seven points in 10 games since being claimed off waivers after posting just six points in 26 games with Bakersfield. The Steelheads make their second and final regular season trip to Stockton for games tonight and tomorrow night against the Thunder.
Graham DeLaet is at even-par through the first 13 holes of the Phoenix Open, which was suspended yesterday due to darkness. Wherever DeLaet’s first round ends up, he’s going to be way off the pace. That’s what happens when Phil Mickelson fires a 60 (that was a smidgen away from a 59). DeLaet is coming off the fourth-best payday of his career—he pocketed $146,400 last week at the Farmers Insurance Open.
There’ll be two Beauty & The Beast events at Boise State this winter, and the first is tonight in Taco Bell Arena. The Bronco wrestling team hosts Cal State Bakersfield, and the 21st-ranked BSU gymnastics squad faces BYU in the popular dual-sport spectacle. Boise State wrestling holds a 10-1 record in Beauty & The Beast competitions, while the gymnasts are 9-1 all-time. The wrestlers will be back on the mat Sunday afternoon versus Stanford.
This Day In Sports…February 1, 1995:
In a 129-88 triumph over Denver, Utah Jazz point guard John Stockton sets the all-time NBA record for assists. Fittingly, it came on a pass to Karl Malone—Stockton’s 11th assist of the game (he would have 16 that night). The Gonzaga product broke Magic Johnson’s standard of 9,921—at that point he had played 14 fewer career games than Johnson in eclipsing the record.
(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.)