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One of the guttiest victories ever

One of the guttiest victories ever

by Tom Scott

Bio | Follow: @thescottslant

KTVB.COM

Posted on January 10, 2013 at 8:34 AM

Thursday, January 10, 2013.

Regarding that potential Boise State hoops revival I talked about yesterday.  It’s not supposed to happen if a third of your team, including your leading scorer, isn’t suited up.  The Broncos had a surprise announcement before last night’s game at undefeated Wyoming.  There would be no Derrick Marks, no Kenny Buckner, no Mikey Thompson, and no Darrious Hamilton in the quest to knock off the Cowboys.  Boise State gamely competed in the first half and led 31-26 at the break, but the Broncos fell behind by 10 points with 11½ minutes left in the game.  It looked like you could write the script from there.  But Boise State, using only seven players, battled back and got a three-pointer at the buzzer from Jeff Elorriaga to hand No. 25 Wyoming its first loss of the season, 63-61.

It’s been a long time since the Boise State basketball program pulled off anything like this.  “I don’t know if I’ve ever been more proud of a group,” said coach Leon Rice on his KBOI postgame show.  “Seven guys at 7,000 feet, and they never quit.”  Elorriaga scored 18 points, all on three-pointers, and Anthony Drmic had 18 as well.  The win over the Cowboys marks the third time this season Boise State has knocked off a previously unbeaten team.  But the other two, over Creighton and LSU, came with heavy doses of Marks, Buckner and Thompson (like the 35 points from Marks in Omaha).  The exhausted Broncos now have some time off before their monstrous Mountain West home opener next Wednesday night against New Mexico, who upended UNLV last night, 65-60.

Dan Hawkins has always called them “Davis guys.”  They’ve worked well for Boise State.  Now the College of Idaho has a Davis guy to lead it back into the football world in 2014.  Mike Moroski, most recently the assistant head coach at UC Davis and an assistant with the Aggies since 1987, was introduced yesterday as the Coyotes’ first head coach since the football program was disbanded after the 1977 season.  The UC Davis coaching tree branches far and wide from its original trunk, legendary coach Jim Sochor, and includes Hawkins and Chris Petersen, both former players and assistants with the Aggies.  Heck, it even stretches to TCU’s Gary Patterson and retired Oregon coach Mike Bellotti.  Petersen gave Moroski’s name to C of I athletic director Marty Holly, who called Moroski the day after Thanksgiving.  And away it went.

Moroski now begins the task of assembling his coaching staff, part of which he wants to come from within Idaho.  And recruiting will begin soon enough.  First impression: this is a great hire.  Moroski is mature, experienced, articulate, and engaging.  He even got a Joe Golden reference in during his press conference (Golden is half of the revered “Fool Squad” duo that performs at the Idaho Shakespeare Festival and is a popular C of I professor of theatre).  The reborn Coyotes will make their debut August 30, 2014, at home against Eastern Oregon.

Not that the C of I hasn’t thrived in the past 35 years, morphing into Albertson College and back again while winning an NAIA Division II national championship in basketball in 1996.  But it always felt like something should be happening on Saturday afternoons in the fall at Simplot Stadium.  After all, the Coyote football program had legs—it was born in 1905.  In his Statesman column, historian Arthur Hart once noted that the 1908 College of Idaho football team went undefeated to claim the unofficial “Interscholastic Championship of Idaho.”  The C of I played primarily against high schools, as was the norm back then, but the Coyotes did defeat Albion State Normal School, which would evolve into Idaho State.

It’s time for those early Top 25 predictions, the “Way Too Early” ones, as ESPN correctly calls them.  Everybody has (or will have) Alabama at No. 1.  Now that we have that out of the way, Mark Schlabach’s early Top 25 at ESPN.com puts Boise State at No. 19.  Schlabach notes this wasn’t a typical year for the Broncos, as the defense keyed their 11-2 campaign.  “They'll be the team to beat once again in (the Mountain West) next season,” writes Schlabach.  “Boise State will have to replace seven starters on offense, but quarterback Joe Southwick improved throughout his first season as a starter.  Chris Petersen will also have to rebuild his linebacker corps and secondary.”  That’s all fair enough.

Paul Myerberg of USA Today sees his premature Top 25 differently, placing Boise State at No. 11.  Why No. 11?” Myerberg imagines you asking him.  “After a tough start, Boise State began hitting its stride in November and December.  Even in a down year, the Broncos won 11 games. Next year's team will challenge for an undefeated finish.  Boise doesn't lose much, if at all, when Petersen has a returning starter at quarterback.”  Take it from there, Joe Southwick.  Myerberg likes Fresno State enough to put it at No. 20.  “The Bulldogs are the only team capable of stopping Boise State in the Mountain West,” writes Myerberg.  “Quarterback Derek Carr headlines an offense that flies too far under the radar.  Fresno State should expect to win 10 games.”  Yes, it’s time the Bulldogs played well when the expectations are high.

Nevada offensive coordinator Nick Rolovich has pulled a Brent Pease, returning to the Wolf Pack 10 days after he accepted the O-coordinator’s post at Temple.  (You’ll recall that Pease, after taking the O-coordinator job at Indiana two years ago, came back to Boise State as OC when Bryan Harsin left for Texas.)  At any rate, it’s a good save by new Nevada coach Brian Polian and suggests the Pack will continue to run the Pistol offense.  Now, will Polian want to retain defensive coordinator Mike Bradeson, whose unit had its struggles this season?  Bradeson, by the way, was a member of Boise State’s 1980 Division I-AA national championship team and started his coaching career with the Broncos.

The Idaho Steelheads play at San Francisco tonight, taking the ice without Austin Smith, Justin Dowling and Jace Coyle.  The trio is now with the Texas Stars, as the domino effect from the end of the NHL lockout has begun.  It’s a sobering time for ECHL clubs.  “Everyone’s panicked—everyone’s concerned, trying to find players,” said Steelheads coach Brad Ralph Tuesday on Idaho SportsTalk.  “It’s going to be a different league, so now you regroup and find the best players you can.  Only time will tell if we weather this period well,” Ralph said.  But he feels attitude and confidence built up during their hot start will carry the Steelies a long way.  Yesterday Ralph lost another player to the AHL, with defenseman Jeremie Blain going to Chicago.  But Ralph also brought aboard defensemen William Lacasse and Taylor Vichorek and forward Brent Robinson.

This Day In Sports…January 10, 1984:

A sigh of relief for Payette’s Harmon Killebrew, who is finally elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame in his fourth year of eligibility.  Killebrew, with 573 career home runs, was the first Minnesota Twins player ever to make the Hall.  He joined two other patient guys that year—Don Drysdale had been on the ballot 10 times and Luis Aparicio six before being voted in.  Killebrew passed away almost two years ago.  He was always an outspoken critic of the numbers put up by steroid-swollen athletes and would have been pleased by yesterday’s shutout in this year’s Hall of Fame voting.

(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.)

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