Thursday, January 21, 2010.
There are the standard All-America teams, like those that form the consensus All-America squad (AP, American Football Coaches Association, Football Writers Association of America, Sporting News and Walter Camp Foundation). But which one has staying power between now and Labor Day weekend? I’d venture to say ESPN.com. That’s the reference point for ESPN SportsCenter and ESPN.com writers. And that’s one that happens to have Kellen Moore as a first-teamer. In introducing Moore on video, ESPN.com’s Ivan Maisel says, “One of the enduring mysteries of our time is how (39 touchdowns and only three interceptions) did not make him a Heisman finalist. I don’t think he’ll have that problem next year.” Maisel’s feelings are not going to change in the next 7½ months.
It takes a Bronco to know a Bronco. In tabbing Boise State as its No. 4 team going into 2010, The Sporting News this week predicts that Moore will indeed be invited to New York City as a Heisman Trophy finalist this December. The magazine gets this view from San Diego Chargers and former Boise State wide receiver Legedu Naanee, who never played with Kellen: “He’ll get more recognition next season as far as the Heisman goes. If he puts up the same numbers, he’ll be considered for it. He’s a real savvy quarterback. He never gets flustered. In the big games, he’s real calm. He doesn’t try to do too much. He lets the guys who are around him make the plays. He just gets the ball to them.” That perfectly sums up who Kellen Moore was in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. No interceptions, no fumbles, no sacks—but good decisions.
When Louisiana Tech comes to Bronco Stadium this fall, it’ll be Sonny Dykes calling the shots. Dykes, the offensive coordinator at Arizona, was announced yesterday as the new head coach of the Bulldogs. He replaces Derek Dooley, who left last week for Tennessee. It’s up to Dykes what offense La Tech runs, but consider this: he has served as an O-coordinator under both Hal Mumme and Mike Leach. Dykes was a finalist last season for the Broyles Award that goes to the nation’s top assistant. Of equal importance to Louisiana Tech: his recruiting roots are in the South—he’s the son of legendary Texas Tech coach Spike Dykes.
Boise State was game last night, tied with Nevada at halftime and staying even with the Wolf Pack for a while after the intermission. But down the stretch in the second half, the Pack imposed its will on BSU and pulled away—until a too-late Bronco surge forced Nevada to hang on for an 88-82 victory. Luke Babbitt, the Wolf Pack’s star 6-9 forward, was most imposing. Babbitt heated up after the break and finished with 29 points and 10 rebounds. The Broncos usually need their offense to click, or their defense will cost ‘em. That’s what ended up happening last night, as the Wolf Pack shot 55 percent from the field and a whopping 54 percent from three-point land. Boise State hit just 39 percent from the field.
These are historic times for the Boise State men’s basketball team. The Broncos have lost seven in a row, all in the WAC, their longest losing streak in eight years. They showed signs last night, but they cannot convert at crunch time. BSU had 18 offensive rebounds against the Wolf Pack, but a number of those resulted in missed putbacks, shots the Broncos could not afford to miss against an upper echelon WAC team. To the credit of the much-maligned Anthony Thomas, he rallied and played well against Nevada star Armon Johnson, scoring 19 points with six steals and four assists. Boise State just can’t get all five guys to play well on the same night.
There’s only one men’s college basketball team in the valley over .500 right now, and that is…Northwest Nazarene. The Crusaders are 10-5 going into a home date with Montana State-Billings tonight at the Johnson Sports Center in Nampa. NNU also has the reigning Great Northwest Player of the Week, Drew Eisinger. The junior guard scored 33 points last Saturday in a 101-86 win over Western Oregon. MSU-Billings, incidentally, is coached by former Idaho head man George Pfeifer.
In the past when Idaho Stampede players got NBA callups, we’d watch for a basket here and a rebound there in the minimal minutes they were given. Well, Sundiata Gaines wasn’t signed by the Utah Jazz just to fill space on the bench. In his first NBA game for the Jazz, the former Stampede point guard played 21 minutes, scored three points and dished out five assists. But that was nothin’. Last Thursday, he got the Stampede rare mentions on ESPN SportsCenter after his game-winning buzzer-beating three-pointer for the Jazz brought down the Cavaliers and LeBron James in Salt Lake City. That earned Gaines a second 10-day contract with Utah.
To be sure, though, reality has set in. Since the big moment against the Cavs, Gaines has played just three minutes in the last three games—including zero in last night’s 105-98 win over the Spurs. Meanwhile, Anthony Tolliver has been getting time for the Golden State Warriors since being called up from the Stampede last Sunday. Tolliver played almost 16 minutes last night but went 1-for-6 from the field in the Warriors’ 123-118 loss to the Nuggets.
It was a typical ECHL All-Star Game last night in Ontario, CA. The lamp was lit a lot, as the American Conference defeated the National Conference in a shootout, 10-9. It was the first shootout in the history of the ECHL’s midseason affair. Idaho Steelheads goalie Richard Bachman was unfortunate enough to be assigned to the third period, allowing four goals. He was between the pipes for the shootout as well and took the loss. But the Steelheads’ Evan Barlow was named the 2010 ECHL All-Star MVP after scoring two goals and two assists. The Steelies return to action tomorrow night against Las Vegas in Qwest Arena.
Former Boise State stars Troy Merritt and Graham DeLaet didn’t start the Bob Hope Classic the way they did at the Sony Open in Hawaii last week. Merritt shot a one-under 71 yesterday at SilverRock, and DeLaet was even at 72 at La Quinta. They’re far behind first round leader Shane Bertsch, who returned to the PGA Tour by tearing up the Nicklaus Private course with a 10-under 62. Both Merritt and DeLaet would seem to be in danger of missing the cut—on the other hand, it is a 90-hole tournament.
Boise State men’s tennis coach Greg Patton has always admired the moxie of the Bronco football team, and it has rubbed off on his program. Tonight BSU opens the tennis season the same way football did—at home against Oregon at the Boise Racquet & Swim Club. And, as he goes for his 300th win with the Broncos, the General says, “I feel that karma.” BSU was ranked 22nd nationally in the first ITA poll of the year. One of the keys is James Meredith, who gave an indication of a strong senior season to come when he captured his best collegiate victory to date last October at the ITA All-American Championships, upsetting the nation’s seventh-ranked player, Stanford’s Alex Clayton. Meredith was ranked 53rd at the time; he’s now 35th.
This Day In Sports…January 21, 1990, 20 years ago today:
At the Australian Open, John McEnroe becomes the first player in the Open era to be kicked out of a Grand Slam event for accumulating three behavioral code violations in one match. In his fourth round match against Sweden’s Mikael Pernfors—up two sets to one but trailing in the fourth—McEnroe was given a point penalty for “racquet abuse”, which handed Pernfors the game, a service break, and a 4-2 lead. McEnroe, who had an earlier violation for “lineswoman intimidation”, went ballistic, ranting until he was finally disqualified.
(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.)