Wednesday, April 20, 2011.
It’s now the spring-summer offseason for Boise State football. Yeah, sure it is. The Mountain West holds a spring practice teleconference, and coaches from the league’s existing teams were naturally asked yesterday about the Broncos coming in. While praising the Boise State program, San Diego State’s Rocky Long, unprompted, also said, "I think they ought to get rid of that blue turf. I think it's unfair.” Fortunately, Long didn’t blame it on blue uniforms blending in with the field. But the Statesman’s Brian Murphy asked Long if he was serious. It appeared he was. “The visiting team takes about a quarter to get used to the feel of that turf,” said Long, who was on the short end of a 20-9 contest on the blue while coaching New Mexico in 1999. I’m thinking 33,500 fans wearing blue for the Aztecs sometime in the autumn of 2012.
ESPN.com’s Andrea Adelson interviewed Boise State coach Chris Petersen yesterday to wrap up spring football. Petersen sometimes has different takes for the national audience than he does for the local one. Adelson asked him if “finishing” is a particular point of emphasis after the Broncos blew a big lead—and an undefeated season—at Nevada last November. "It’s not different than it’s been in the past," Petersen said. "The team we had last year was a really good team. To me, it’s the best team we’ve had since I’ve been here.” Let’s stop there for a moment. I did a Sunday Sports Extra segment on that very subject after the Maaco Bowl Las Vegas. It was indeed the best team. No. 2 defense in the country, with the fewest average yards allowed in 40 years. School record for total offense. Not surprising that Pete sees it that way.
Petersen continued: “That doesn’t mean your best team is going to win every game. We’re going to get most people’s best shot every game. If it’s not all clicking just right—that’s why we play the game. That’s why coaches are so paranoid about things. You understand the best teams don’t always win. That game at Nevada was a great game. Nevada is one heck of a team. We’ve been saying forever those guys were underrated. We had chances to win, but that’s why you play the game."
On Thursday night, September 8, Daryn Colledge might be suiting up for the Green Bay Packers in the NFL’s 2011 season opener. Or he may be preparing another episode of the “Colledge Experience” on KTIK. The former Boise State star and current Super Bowl champion would rather be wearing pads and protecting Aaron Rodgers against the New Orleans Saints, but there’s a good chance the NFL lockout will keep the season from starting on time. Nevertheless, the league released its schedule yesterday, wishfully thinking it’ll kick off the season with the Packers at Lambeau Field.
The Idaho Steelheads are looking for mean faces in tight spaces tonight as Game 3 of the ECHL Western Conference semifinals against Alaska unfolds in Qwest Arena. The Aces have the advantage when they’re at home in Sullivan Arena on their Olympic-sized rink, 13 feet wider than a regulation sheet. They capitalized in the first two games of the series against the Steelheads, winning both. Alaska’s roster has been assembled with wide-open ice in mind. You can count on hard-nosed Steelies such as Cody Lampl bringing their “checklists” tonight.
Steelheads coach Hardy Sauter said on Idaho SportsTalk yesterday that, while it takes about “half a game” to adjust to Olympic-sized ice, “It’s not that big a deal.” Special teams are a bigger deal to Sauter. “Our power play has to find a way to chip in a goal here and there,” said Sauter, whose team tallied just once in the first two games in Anchorage. The Steelheads led the 19-team league in the power play during the regular season, converting 25.2 percent of their chances. Idaho is ranked 11th among the 15 teams in the Kelly Cup Playoffs on the man-advantage at 10 percent, going just 2-of-20.
Former Idaho Stampede coach Bryan Gates has to be enjoying his time with the New Orleans Hornets. The upstart Hornets will try to make it two stunners in a row tonight, taking a one game-to-none lead into Game 2 of their first round NBA Playoff series against the Lakers. New Orleans pulled off a 109-100 win in Staples Center Sunday. Gates is in his first year as a Hornets assistant after spending last season on the staff of the Sacramento Kings.
Gates’ story is still one of the most intriguing in pro basketball. He didn’t play hoops while a student at Boise State. Then he all but begged his way into a volunteer position on Bobby Dye’s first Stampede coaching staff in 1997-98. Gates was a Stampede assistant for five years all told before becoming the head coach in 2007. He led the Stampede for three seasons, winning the D-League championship in 2008 and the league’s Coach of the Year honor twice. His 101-51 record in the D-League equates to a 64.4 winning percentage, tied for the best in the circuit’s history.
With the Boston Red Sox seemingly coming to life, along came former Boise Hawk John Lackey to get his next start. Then Oakland handcuffed the Red Sox last night, 5-0, and Boston’s three-game winning streak was kaput. At first glance, it looks like another tough outing for Lackey. But it wasn’t his fault. The veteran righthander allowed just one run and four hits over six innings, with three strikeouts and only one walk in his best start of the season. The Red Sox just couldn’t hit. Lackey, who had been skipped in the rotation after a rainout at Fenway Park last Wednesday, lowered his ERA from 15.58 to 9.82.
This Day In Sports…April 20, 1912:
An historic day for baseball stadiums. Fenway Park opens in Boston, with the Red Sox beating the Yankees, 7-6. Tiger Stadium opened in Detroit on the same day, with the Tigers beating the Cleveland Indians, 6-5. And on April 20, 1916, it was the first game in the history of Wrigley Field—the Chicago Cubs downing the Cincinnati Reds, 7-6.
(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.)