Wednesday, April 3, 2013.
The most passionate man in the sport of tennis in the state of Idaho—and maybe anywhere—is Boise State coach Greg Patton. He was one of the figureheads of the group that brought this weekend’s Davis Cup quarterfinals to Boise, and he was a guest on Idaho SportsTalk yesterday. Guess what Patton’s message was. “We need to pack Taco Bell Arena,” said the General. “We’re the smallest venue that the Davis Cup has ever been played in the United States.” And then Patton really got excited. “I want people to see this, feel this, taste it—the fire, the emotion,” he said. “They’re playing for their country.” Patton then pushed a familiar button. “People, take this like it’s a Boise State football game. You’ll feel the bliss and the joy when we do well.”
Why do the singles start at 1:30 Friday afternoon? Because you never know how long tennis matches might go. It could be a quick three sets, or it could go five—with extra innings. Like Wimbledon, there’s no fifth-set tiebreaker in the Davis Cup. So…beware of American John Isner. It was almost three years ago that Isner played the longest professional tennis match in history, going 11 hours and five minutes and spanning three days at Wimbledon. Isner and French qualifier Nicolas Mahut had already battled almost three hours when they went to the fifth set. Then the deciding set went eight hours and 11 minutes, with Isner finally winning 6-4, 3-6, 6-7, 7-6, 70-68. Yes, it was 70-68—138 games. The next day, Isner would be eliminated in the second round in 74 minutes.
Boise State resumed spring football yesterday with a morning practice in front of an unimpressed coach Chris Petersen. “It wasn’t terrible, but it was average, and that’s not what we’re trying to get done here,” he said. But this had to make Petersen feel better, even though he can’t breathe a word about it. The Broncos have picked up their quarterback for the 2014 recruiting class, as Scout.com reports that Jalen Greene of Gardena, CA, gave his verbal to Petersen yesterday. The 6-3, 194-pounder is considered one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the West. "Even if I had 30 offers or more, Boise State was just the best fit so I decided to jump on it,” Greene told Scout.com. “They didn't pressure me at all, in fact, Coach Pete actually encouraged me to take some other visits but I don't need to. I saw everything I needed to see.”
Brief quarterback observations from yesterday’s practice. Incumbent starter Joe Southwick is visibly bigger after winter conditioning and is a more physical runner now. Nick Patti displayed his quick, compact release with a couple dandy threadings-of-the-needle. And, of course, Patti picked up a couple first downs with his feet. Jimmy Laughrea, who spent a lot of time on the shelf last year, was going full-tilt in drills and peeled off a long-gainer on a read-option. Grant Hedrick had an interception, but it was on a tipped ball—and it was a great play by safety Darian Thompson. Petersen wishes he could see more of all the QBs. “You’ve got four guys, one football,” he said. “I’d like to see those younger guys get a few more reps.”
This has to be a bummer for former Eagle High wide receiver D.J. Dean. Petersen says Dean has torn an ACL and will probably not be available until next spring. Dean had waited a long time to get back on the field, having grayshirted last fall. He hasn’t played in a game since November of 2011, when he was named 5A Southern Idaho Conference Player of the Year with the Mustangs. The good news for Dean is he still has a redshirt year and will have four years of eligibility waiting in 2014.
BYU is hoping for a healthy quarterback when the season opens in less than five months. Taysom Hill, the former Highland High star who scored the Cougars’ only touchdown in their 7-6 loss at Boise State last September, has been limited this spring to preserve him after his season-ending knee injury in October. Ammon Olsen had been working with the first team in Hill’s place during spring football. But last Saturday, Olsen suffered a partial PCL tear in BYU’s spring game. Doctors anticipate only a six-week recovery for Olsen, who transferred to the Cougars from Southern Utah following an LDS mission.
Just when we thought the Idaho Steelheads may have found a secret weapon for the Kelly Cup Playoffs, they get a prize back from Texas to preempt it as the postseason begins tonight against the Colorado Eagles. The Steelheads have released their playoff roster, and goalie Josh Robinson is on it. So Chris Rawlings, who turned in a pair of strong performances last weekend that included a shutout in his pro debut, won’t be around. Robinson has been outstanding this season, going 27-8-4 with five shutouts and a save percentage of .925, second-best in the ECHL. The Steelheads also have defenseman Hubert Labrie back in the fold, reassigned by Dallas.
The Steelheads survived nicely after their roster was purged in the trickle-down effect upon the end of the NHL lockout in January. That’s due to good personnel decisions by coach Brad Ralph, such as the trade in February that brought forward Rylan Galiardi in from San Francisco. Galiardi won the final ECHL Plus Performer of the Month award of the season after compiling a plus-12 rating in March. He was even or better in 13 of the Steelies’ 14 games during the month.
Head-to-head Kelly Cup Playoffs prep: the Steelheads won seven of the eight regular season matchups against the Eagles this season, including all three in Colorado back in October. The Steelheads have been en fuego offensively in this series, scoring 36 goals in the eight contests. The only consolation for the Eagles is the fact they won the last meeting between these two teams, 2-1. That was in CenturyLink Arena last month, with Colorado goalie Adam Brown rejecting 25 of 26 Idaho shots on goal. On the other hand, Robinson is 5-0 with a 2.00 goals-against average versus the Eagles this season.
Boise State hoops coach Leon Rice indicated he had a plan in place when it was announced top assistant Dave Wojcik was headed for San Jose State. And Rice has already filled the opening on his staff, hiring Texas high school coach Danny Henderson, according to the Statesman. Henderson won three straight state 5A championships at Marcus High in Flower Mound from 2010-12 and has more than 700 victories in his career.
Former Boise Hawk Marwin Gonzalez will forever have this to talk about. Texas Rangers righthander Yu Darvish was on the cusp of a perfect game last night in Houston, and I do mean cusp. There were two outs in the bottom of the ninth when Gonzalez, the Astros’ shortstop and No. 9 hitter, rapped a single up the middle to spoil Darvish’s perfecto. Gonzalez played for the Hawks in 2008, batting .279 with 43 RBI in 65 games. He made his big league debut with Houston last season.
This Day In Sports…April 3, 2008, five years ago today:
The official end of Paul J. Schneider’s run as the Voice of the Broncos. Boise State awarded its football and men’s basketball broadcast rights contract to Peak Broadcasting and KIDO after 35 years on KBOI. Schneider was on the microphone for all that time, calling touchdowns passes by everyone from Jim McMillan to Jared Zabransky—and interceptions by everyone from Rolly Woolsey to Marty Tadman. His most famous call of all was Ian Johnson’s two-point conversion that won the 2007 Fiesta Bowl. KBOI had acquired the rights to Boise State football and basketball games in 1973, when Schneider was sports director of KBOI-TV and Radio.
(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.)