Friday, March 5, 2010.
Hawaii coach Bob Nash said before last night’s date at Boise State that the Rainbow Warriors were going to “try to ugly the game up.” What Nash meant was slowing down the pace so that the Broncos couldn’t get out and run. What he got was an ugly bunch of ‘Bows. It looked like the formula was taking effect at the end of the first half as Boise State turned sluggish and Hawaii went to the intermission trailing by just three. But the Broncos solved Hawaii’s zone—and just about everything else the Warriors did—rolling up 49 second half points and winning, 82-63. Thus BSU is one win away from avoiding the WAC booby prize. The Broncos need a Senior Day victory over San Jose State tomorrow, or a Hawaii loss to Idaho (or a Louisiana Tech upset at Nevada), to qualify for the WAC Tournament next week in Reno.
Boise State would love to bottle up what it got against Hawaii and apply it retroactively to the 2009-10 season. Unfortunately, the Broncos are stuck at 4-11 in the WAC going into the regular season finale. But they wouldn’t be in that hole if last night’s assist-to-turnover ratio was more common. Boise State dished out 21 assists in the win over Hawaii versus 13 turnovers. And the Broncos can only imagine what things would be like if Reggie Arnold had been like this all season—19 points and seven rebounds on the heels of his 35-point, 15-rebound game last Saturday.
Boise State spring football begins Monday, and it’s going to be the oddest of all spring sessions. Most of the time, this is when starting jobs left open by departed seniors see their first heated competition. But what does a team do when it returns 21 of the 22 starters from a BCS bowl? Just get ready for Virginia Tech? Bronco coaches would tell you that all positions are always open. But this spring is more about the depth chart, and competition will be fierce for that in itself. Thing is, Boise State actually returns 20 Fiesta Bowl starters. Coach Chris Petersen revealed yesterday that offensive guard Kevin Sapien’s career is over. Petersen said the Broncos were lucky to get him through last season—and that his body basically gave out.
Petersen listed 13 guys who will do little or nothing in spring ball due to injury. As is the custom, he didn’t go into much detail. New names on the spring injured list include Kyle Brotzman, Chase Baker, J.P. Nisby, Thomas Byrd, Kirby Moore and Allen Mooney, who is going to have arthroscopic surgery on his knee. It’s a downer for Mooney, the highly-touted redshirt freshman linebacker from Maple Valley, WA, who was expected to challenge for playing time in 2010. Now he’ll be playing catch-up in fall camp. One player Pete didn’t mention was D.J. Harper. That’s just an oversight, as Harper is one of the Broncos recovering from ACL injuries last season. So let’s put it at 14.
One of the foundations of Pat Hill’s coaching staff at Fresno State is headed out. Special teams coach John Baxter, the last of Hill’s assistants from his original 1997 staff, will take the same post under Lane Kiffin at USC. Special teams have been a constant in an otherwise inconsistent Bulldog program. Fresno State blocked 83 kicks during Baxter’s tenure and lead the nation since 2002 with 48 blocks.
From the “where are they now” file, former Idaho star Kasey Dunn is the new wide receivers coach at Southern Miss. Dunn was the Seattle Seahawks’ running backs coach the last two seasons. He was a Division I-AA All-American as a Vandal receiver and is still Idaho’s career leader in receptions, with 268 from 1988-91. Dunn has also coached at San Diego, Arizona, TCU, Washington State, New Mexico, Baylor and Maryland. And he did spend a year on Chris Tormey’s Vandal staff in 1995.
The Bakersfield Condors showed Wednesday night they’re not going away this weekend—and they don’t plan on doing so if they meet the Idaho Steelheads in the Kelly Cup Playoffs, either. That was a solid 3-1 win the Condors posted in Qwest Arena. The Steelheads’ 1997 retro jerseys didn’t bring them much luck. They hope to redeem themselves (and their original logo) for what they feel was a poor effort when the teams meet again tonight and tomorrow night. Idaho still has the ECHL’s best winning percentage by a good margin, 72 percent to South Carolina’s 66. And the Steelies still have a 13-point lead over Victoria in the ECHL West Division.
You could forgive the Idaho Stampede if they ran out of gas in Wednesday night’s 114-107 loss at Utah. The Stampede are looking to get healthy—literally. Former Boise State star Roberto Bergersen has not played the last three weeks due to a flu-like malady, while Lance Allred missed Wednesday’s game with strep throat. Both Bergersen and Allred are expected to suit up tonight for the first of two games at Albuquerque. D-League teams only carry 10 active players on their rosters, so coach Bob MacKinnon only had eight to go with against the Flash the other night. Then he was down to seven when Joe Dabbert was ejected late in the third quarter.
Former Boise Hawk Garret Anderson is going back to Los Angeles after all—but in blue instead of red. Anderson has agreed to a minor league contract with the Dodgers. He’s the Angels’ all-time leader in runs, hits and RBIs, and still has plenty of tread left on his 37-year-old tires. The guess here is that Anderson will make the Dodgers roster and become an important utility outfielder. Believe it or not, it was 20 years ago this summer that Anderson played for Tom Kotchman’s first Hawks team right out of high school. Meanwhile, the Cubs opened their Cactus League schedule with a 9-3 win over Oakland, and former Hawk Tyler Colvin was 3-for-3 with a homer and two doubles. Seven Boise alums appeared in the game for Chicago.
Florida is a different place—different air, different grass, different layout. And former Boise State standouts Graham DeLaet and Troy Merritt had a different experience yesterday in the first round of the Honda Classic at Palm Beach Gardens. Playing on the PGA National course, site of the 1983 Ryder Cup and the 1987 PGA Championship, DeLaet came in at four-over 74 and Merritt at five-over 75. DeLaet’s round included a triple-bogey, and Merritt had two doubles.
Other notes for a Friday: the Boise State women’s gymnastics team hosts BYU and Utah State tonight in Taco Bell Arena. The Broncos are having a great season and seem to be underrated at No. 29 in the country. And in the boys state basketball tournaments, valley teams are ever playing the gracious hosts. Too gracious. Only two of five valley schools, Eagle and Borah, won first round games in 5A. And the Mustangs beat another local team to do it (Rocky Mountain). Eagle and Borah meet in the semifinals tonight. The valley was 1-for-2 in 4A, with Bishop Kelly in the championship bracket. Locals were 0-fer in 3A and 1A, while only New Plymouth is still alive for the title in 2A.
This Day In Sports…March 5, 1984:
Quarterback Steve Young, fresh out of BYU, signs a long-term contract worth 40 million dollars with the Los Angeles Express of the United States Football League. According to terms of the deal, deferred payments would be made to Young until the year 2027. When the USFL later folded, Young bought out the contract and jumped to the NFL with Tampa Bay. By the way, Pokey Allen was an assistant with the LA Express that year.
(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.)