Tuesday, March 2, 2010.
There’s been a lot of talk the past couple of weeks about Boise State being almost assured a spot in the WAC Tournament. The reasoning: Hawaii can’t beat anybody right now. Well, the Warriors beat a WAC somebody last Saturday night. On its Senior Night in Honolulu, Hawaii upset Nevada 74-63. That means if the Warriors beat Boise State Thursday night in Taco Bell Arena, they’re a lock for the WAC Tournament next week, and the Broncos are likely left home. The UH win over the Wolf Pack was a stunner for a team that had been dragging a nine-game losing streak along. In conference games, anybody can beat anybody when the stars align. It didn’t hurt that the Pack had to nix its pregame shootaround that day because it was sequestered in its Waikiki hotel due to the tsunami warning.
Boise State has its first WAC Player of the Week since Thanksgiving weekend, as Reggie Arnold was honored yesterday. It all boiled down to one game, of course, as Arnold exploded for 35 points and 15 rebounds in last Saturday’s 95-92 loss at New Mexico State, both career highs. It also marked Arnold’s first career double-double. The junior guard only tallied nine points and three boards in last Thursday’s 72-59 win at Louisiana Tech.
For awhile, it looked like the conference was going to be competitive. But in WAC basketball right now, there’s Utah State…and everybody else. The Aggies clinched a share of the WAC regular season title last night by humiliating Fresno State in Logan, 76-39. The Bulldogs didn’t score a point for the first 9:51 of the game, with USU bolting out to a 22-0 lead. Fresno State shot just 22 percent and was held under 40 for the first time in 32 years. It was the Aggies’ 14th consecutive win.
Is it better to be a starter in the D-League or the last man on the bench on an NBA team? The easy answer would be: NBA pine-collector all the way. But there have to be times when Patty Mills longs to wear an Idaho Stampede uniform and launch it. The former St. Mary’s star has been back up with the Blazers since January 23 and has barely seen the court, playing 15 combined minutes in seven games. Last Wednesday was a good example—Mills was in for the last 51 seconds of Portland’s 101-87 win at Toronto. But he made the most of four minutes in a 110-91 romp at Minnesota Saturday, scoring eight quick points. Mills is averaging 1.9 points per game for the season after scoring 25.6 points a game in five appearances with the Stampede.
Two things that don’t always get enough credit when a team’s having the type of season the Idaho Steelheads are enjoying: defense and goaltending. All you need to know is that the Steelheads have allowed only 146 goals, the fewest in the ECHL this season. They’ve also yielded by far the fewest shots on goal in the league, only 25.4 per game. Right now the Steelies enjoy the luxury of having both of their frontline goaltenders in Boise—and not in the AHL. And both have been stellar. Richard Bachman leads the ECHL with a goals-against average of only 2.26. Rejean Beauchemin, winner of eight of his last 10 starts, is fourth at 2.72. The Steelheads host the Bakersfield Condors tomorrow night.
The buildup to this week has been four years in the making for Kyle Wilson. The former Boise State star is at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, and although he won’t run the 40-yard dash and associated agility drills, he will do the bench press today. NFL personnel have already scoured Wilson and his resume in Combine interviews. To recap, he was a four-year starter for the Broncos—the only player to start both of BSU’s Fiesta Bowls. He earned second team All-America honors this season from AP and the Walter Camp Football Foundation. Wilson was also first-team All-WAC the past two seasons. But those accolades wouldn’t mean anything had Wilson not wowed ‘em during practices at the Senior Bowl five weeks ago. The scouts had to see for themselves in a football environment. And they did.
I see that the Mid-American Conference unveiled its 2010 football schedule yesterday. And Toledo’s game at Boise State is listed as Saturday, October 9, as previously announced by BSU. We anxiously await the WAC schedule, always the last to be rolled out. We can only assume it’s lagging behind the MAC because the MAC has an easier time setting its slate without any Thursday, Friday or Saturday games on ESPN or ESPN2 to deal with. It takes time for the Worldwide Leader to jockey the WAC’s anchor games into the premium slots (read that: key Boise State games).
Baseball’s first exhibition game of 2010 will be played today—the Braves against the Mets. And Atlanta has moved on without last year’s leftfielder, former Boise Hawk Garret Anderson. The 37-year-old Anderson is still without a team as spring training hits full stride. The guy can still play—he hit .268 with 13 home runs and 68 RBIs for the Braves last year. A return to the Angels is still not out of the question. Hawks alum Jarrod Washburn is also still looking for a home. Nothing’s happened despite interest shown by the Brewers and the Twins. Washburn, the 35-year-old leftie, struggled after being traded to the Tigers midseason last year. He had pitched outstanding in the first half for the Mariners. Both will likely end up on major league rosters this year—at a greatly reduced rate.
This Day In Sports…March 2, 1962:
Wilt Chamberlain sets a standard in the NBA that will never be duplicated: his 100-point game. Wilt The Stilt scored 31 in the 4th quarter to reach the milestone—for the game, he had 36 field goals and 28 free throws as the Philadelphia Warriors outgunned the New York Knicks, 169-147.
(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.)