Wednesday, May 5, 2010.
Broken record time. Boise State’s Kellen Moore was on the front page of SI.com again yesterday, sandwiched in between Alabama’s Mark Ingram and Ohio State’s Cameron Heyward. It led into Andy Staples’ post-spring review of his “way-too-early Top 25.” Says Staples: “Moore struggled a bit during spring practice. Does that mean the Broncos are overrated? Absolutely not. Few defenses have been able to stop Moore. If Boise State's can, that's great news for the Broncos, who probably will begin this season ranked high enough to bust the BCS title game if they go undefeated.” Boise State is not deaf and blind, but it’ll try to be between now and Labor Day.
Which leads us right into Staples’ No. 7 team, Virginia Tech. “Sure, the Hokies have to replace a lot on defense,” writes Staples. “But when has coordinator Bud Foster not had a talented group waiting in the wings? Take fifth-year senior Steven Friday. Friday made just 11 tackles as a junior, but he's the type of rusher the Hokies need to replace Jason Worilds. Virginia Tech should be fine on offense with Tyrod Taylor pulling the trigger and Ryan Williams and back-from-injury Darren Evans carrying the ball.” We’ll be talking a lot about Boise State’s run-stoppers the next several months.
Which leads us right into TCU, one notch up from the Hokies at No. 6. Here’s Staples: “The Horned Frogs probably would have started the season in everyone's top five had they stopped that fake punt against Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl. That doesn't mean TCU will sneak up on anyone this season. Andy Dalton and Tank Carder are known commodities, and youngsters such as Stansly Maponga—a potential replacement for Jerry Hughes at defensive end—will try to keep the Horned Frogs in the national title conversation.” Wait a sec, Mr. Staples. Are you saying that “Riddler” was the only reason the Broncos beat the Frogs in Glendale?
The Washington Capitals did the Idaho Steelheads a favor last month. I’d be surprised if coach Derek Laxdal hasn’t mentioned the Capitals’ fate to his club as it goes into Game 3 of the ECHL National Conference Finals in Stockton tonight. The Caps became the first No. 1 seed in NHL history to blow a three games-to-one lead to a No. 8 seed in a playoff series when they succumbed to Montreal. Idaho has a two games-to-none advantage on the Thunder and seems to have everything going its way. The Steelies are top-seeded in the conference—Stockton is seeded sixth. Sixty more minutes of focus will be required tonight in front of a hostile crowd.
Still, it would appear that Stockton’s only chances of winning this series are 1) playing their best hockey of the year, and 2) playing with discipline. The latter was not a hallmark of the Thunder in the first two games of the series as a slew of cheap shots was topped by a sucker punch of Idaho’s Kevin DeVergilio. The need for discipline extends to the Thunder bench, where a frustrated coach Matt Thomas tossed a broken stick in the direction of the Steelheads bench at the end of Game 2. The ECHL announced yesterday it has fined Thomas an undisclosed amount for his actions in that contest last Saturday. The Thunder need to keep a lid on it with their crowd egging them on tonight.
Both of Boise State’s tennis teams are headed to the NCAA Tournament next week. The women knew they were going after winning the WAC championship last Sunday. They’ll face Iowa a week from Friday in South Bend, IN. The men, ousted from the WAC tourney in the semifinals, had a severe case of pins-and-needles when the field was unveiled yesterday. The Broncos had to wait until the final bracket—but they were in, paired with Florida State in the first round a week from Saturday in Athens, GA.
The College of Idaho will take a No. 13 NAIA national ranking into the NAIA West Postseason Tournament in Vancouver, BC. The Coyotes jumped four spots in the new Coaches Poll yesterday. That’s the highest the Yotes have been ranked since 2007. They’ll start the regional tourney tomorrow against Oregon Tech. Lewis-Clark State is still No. 1 in the poll.
Two things overshadowed a decent pitching performance last night by Detroit’s Dontrelle Willis, the former Boise Hawk. One was the death of 92-year-old Ernie Harwell, the beloved longtime Tigers broadcaster. The other was a run scored on a wild pitch in the bottom of the ninth inning that gave the Twins a 4-3 victory. Willis had left the game in the sixth—he allowed three runs on four hits with six strikeouts and three walks. Those aren’t stellar numbers, but Willis (and the Tigers) will take ‘em after the D-Train’s travails of the past two seasons.
This Day In Sports…May 5, 1987:
The Basketball Hall Of Fame inducts three of the NBA’s most exciting players ever: former scoring champions Rick Barry and Pistol Pete Maravich—who averaged, respectively, a league-best 35.6 points for the San Francisco Warriors in 1967 and a league-best 31.1 points for the New Orleans Jazz in 1977, and guard Walt Frazier, who excelled on defense as well as offense for the New York Knicks.
(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’s also handled color commentary on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football the last five seasons.)