Monday, February 4, 2013.
“Grit” was the reason Jeff Elorriaga gave for Boise State’s 77-72 upset of UNLV Saturday night. He didn’t mean his own mind you, but it’s easy to see it that way. The crowd of 9,356 tried to will the rusty Elorriaga’s first couple of three-point attempts through the hoop. Then when he finally connected Taco Bell Arena erupted, and what did Elorriaga do? He immediately directed traffic with hand signals for the next defensive set as the Rebels brought the ball up the floor. Elorriaga knew where each Bronco’s place was and tried to get the guys there. The rise in defensive effort with Elorriaga’s return was evident, and UNLV was often out of sorts offensively—even with superstar freshman Anthony Bennett going off for 25 points.
One of the key sequences of the game involved Anthony Drmic, who led Boise State with 22 points. With just over four minutes left in the first half and the Broncos precariously up 36-31, UNLV’s Mike Moser clotheslined Drmic on a layup attempt. The officials called an intentional foul, and with Drmic still sprawled on the floor, they went to the TV monitor to review the play. While the loudest collective boo in recent memory filled Taco Bell Arena, Drmic got to his feet, and the officials called the foul a “flagrant 2” and ejected Moser from the game. Drmic made both free throws, and Boise State was then awarded the ball. Ryan Watkins air-balled a three-pointer, but Drmic was fouled again away from the play and made two more charity shots to put the Broncos up 40-31. It reversed the momentum and effectively lasted the rest of the game.
Former Idaho star Mike Iupati and his San Francisco 49ers line-mates had a better pass-blocking than run-blocking day in their 34-31 loss to Baltimore in Super Bowl XXLVII. But Iupati’s most visible play last night came in the run game during the 49ers’ post-power outage rally. He pulled from his left guard position and laid the key block on Frank Gore’s six-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. Safe to say Iupati and Gore have a good working relationship. “Whatever color I see, I hit, and he knows that,” Iupati said of Gore during Media Day last week. “He knows the reads, so he’s the one doing the job. I’m just there to block.” It’s hard to get to the Super Bowl, but the 49ers are set up to return before Iupati’s through. Gore’s clock is ticking, though.
Haven’t been able to gauge how Boise State’s D.J. Harper did in the Texas vs. The Nation game Saturday. Box scores in those fringe all-star events are hard to come by (we do know Idaho’s Trey Farquhar kicked a 31-yard field goal in the Nation’s 24-13 victory). Harper’s late invitation last week to the NFL Combine is huge for him, though. There he’ll have a chance to demonstrate definitively that there are no lingering effects from the knee injuries that prematurely ended his 2009 and 2010 seasons. This little Harper factoid passed us by, but it’s worth a mention. The 2011 seniors led by Kellen Moore went an NCAA record 50-3. That’s 53 games. During his six-season marathon Harper played in 54, the most ever by a Bronco.
Boise State now has 25 verbal commitments entering the final 48 hours before National Letter of Intent Day. The latest according to Scout.com is cornerback Cameron Hartsfield of Allen, TX, the Dallas suburb where, ironically, the Texas vs. The Nation game was played Saturday. Hartsfield was the Defensive MVP of the Texas 5A state championship game. He had previously committed to Nevada.
As Byron Hout re-establishes residency in the City of Trees, it would be interesting to get his take on what it was really like working for Mike Leach last season at Washington State. Hout, the former Boise State linebacker who has returned as a defensive graduate assistant for the Broncos, served in the same capacity at WSU. It wasn’t a successful season in Pullman—the Cougars went 3-9—but it was an eventful one, between Leach’s criticism of his seniors and the allegations by departed wide receiver Marquess Wilson of emotional abuse. Leach was cleared of wrongdoing by Washington State. Just as he was tight-lipped about the LeGarrette Blount punch in the 2009 season opener against Oregon, you’d expect Hout to be similarly reserved about “the pirate.”
The Idaho Steelheads were on opposite ends of 3-2 decisions in Stockton over the weekend. In Saturday night’s loss to the Thunder, everything happened in the second period, with three Stockton goals sandwiched in between Steelhead goals from David deKastrozza and Tyler Gron before a sellout crowd of 8,919. Friday night the action was at the end of the game, as David Toews scored the game-winner for Idaho with 43 seconds left. The split leaves the Steelies’ record at 28-12-5, eight points behind the Alaska Aces in the ECHL Mountain Division. The Steelheads return to CenturyLink Arena Wednesday night against the Utah Grizzlies.
Was George Karl scouting or just being a dad Saturday night? Probably a little bit of both, but more the latter as the Denver Nuggets coach took in his son Coby and the rest of the Idaho Stampede in their 100-92 loss to the L.A. D-Fenders in CenturyLink Arena. George saw Coby score 12 points and dish out six assists, just about standard. The elder Karl should have been there the night before. Friday, after beginning the second quarter 1-for-12 from the field and trailing L.A. by six points, the Stampede played perhaps their best game of the campaign. They shot 51 percent from the field and turned the ball over only 10 times in their 114-88 win. The 26-point margin of victory was the Stamps’ largest of the season.
On the day the United States rallied past Brazil 3-2 to win a first round Davis Cup match, we found out that it will be Boise hosting the Davis Cup quarterfinal between the U.S. and Serbia. Boise State tennis coach Greg Patton, one of the ringleaders of the group bringing the event to Boise April 5-7 in Taco Bell Arena, told KTVB last night, “It’s like having another Woodstock and getting to see all the great groups again.” A great tennis player will be part of the Serbian team, Novak Djokovic, No. 1 in the world and three-peater as Australian Open champion. The Americans needed Sam Querrey to pull it off to advance yesterday after Brazil had tied the match 2-2 Saturday with an upset of the Bryan brothers in doubles. Querrey dropped the first set to Thiago Alves but came back to win the next three to end it.
The Beauty & The Beast event Friday night at Taco Bell Arena was a win-win-win situation—for the fans, the BSU wrestling team and the Bronco gymnasts. A crowd of 2,723 divided its attention between the mats and the apparatus, and the wrestlers overcame Cal State Bakersfield 23-15 while the gymnastics team was besting BYU 196.325-195.125. The Bronco wrestling squad returned to action by itself yesterday, flattening Stanford 29-7. There’ll be a second Beauty & The Beast this Sunday.
This Day In Sports…February 4, 2001:
Miami fan Jimmy Buffett is kicked out of a Heat game for using profanity during a 103-100 overtime loss to the Knicks. Referee Joe Forte claimed he didn’t know who Buffett was. When Miami coach Pat Riley tried to explain to the ref how Buffett’s followers are called “parrot heads,” Forte thought Riley was calling him a “parrot head,” and slapped him with a technical foul.
(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.)