Friday, March 19, 2010.
Two years ago, Austin Pettis and Titus Young were interested observers as Ryan Clady and Orlando Scandrick successfully left Boise State early for the NFL Draft. Then Pettis and Young watched Jeremy Childs try to do the same thing last year—and end up undrafted, forced to take an ill-fated free agent shot. At the same time, Kyle Wilson stayed with the Broncos without blinking an eye, and is now primed to reap the benefits. Coach Chris Petersen thinks Pettis and Young are thriving as seniors-to-be during spring football, as the star wide receivers should be, according to research the Bronco staff has done with NFL scouts. “If a guy is happy where he is, he should come back unless he’s an upper, upper round pick,” Petersen quotes NFL people as saying. “Kyle Wilson’s stock has jumped three rounds, easily.”
Something Petersen said a year ago when Wilson stayed sums up Boise State’s approach: “I think it’s every young man’s dream to get a shot to play in the NFL, and if a guy’s good enough, our job as coaches is to help that dream come true. But that’s not our whole mission here. That’s so far down the line—and anyone saying, ‘Hey, I need somebody to help me get to the NFL,’ that’s probably not the player we’re looking for.”
Marvin Menzies has silenced the doubters as he gets his New Mexico State team ready for its first round NCAA Tournament game today against Michigan State. Some thought New Mexico State would slip back to the middle of the pack when Reggie Theus left. The Aggie teams Theus put together were high-talent, high-risk. Menzies didn’t exactly shy away from that. Witness Herb Pope, who played on Menzie’s first New Mexico State squad two years ago—then left and transferred to Seton Hall. Pope was ejected from Tuesday night’s NIT loss for punching a Texas Tech player below the belt…twice. Menzies seems to have settled on a roster that, while still edgy (Jahmar Young talks too much), plays well together.
Utah State has become a trendy No. 12-versus-No. 5 upset pick as it prepares for Texas A&M in the South Regional today in Spokane. Many coaches who scout USU seem to like to point out the advantage of playing with returned LDS missionaries. “Their players are a little bit older,” says A&M coach Mark Turgeon. The biggest plus for Utah State, though, as that it’s so well-coached and runs its system so well. If the Aggies were able to pull it off today, their likely second round opponent Sunday would be Purdue. And the Boilermakers are damaged goods. USU goes into the game at 27-7 after losing the WAC championship game to New Mexico State last Saturday.
One name has surfaced as the 10-member Boise State search committee prepares to go to work hiring a new Bronco men’s basketball coach. John Canzano of the Oregonian writes that Blazers assistant Dean Demopoulos is “apparently on the radar.” Demopoulos offered no comment to Canzano, other than to say, "I think Boise State could do in basketball what they do in football.” Canzano says Demopoulos, a former 17-year assistant at Temple, has a reputation as a fantastic recruiter. Meanwhile, fired BSU coach Greg Graham has applied for the opening at Hawaii. The Rainbow Warriors have already interviewed seven candidates, and Graham is one of 18 additional applicants being reviewed to determine if any are worthy, according to the Honolulu Advertiser.
The Idaho Stampede are at crunch time as they return home to face the Tulsa 66ers tonight and tomorrow night at Qwest Arena. The Stampede are two games behind fourth-place Utah for the final West Conference playoff spot with eight games to play—but they have a chance to do something about it when they face the Flash three times next week. The Stamps have to be productive against Tulsa, though. Former Boise State star Roberto Bergersen appears to be ready to ease himself back into the rotation following a virus of some kind that has limited him to 12 minutes in the past five weeks. Berto got six of them in Wednesday night’s loss at Sioux Falls, making his only shot of the night, a three-pointer.
As the Idaho Steelheads begin the balancing act between pacing themselves for the playoffs and keeping the edge on during these final 10 games of the regular season, let’s look at one interesting statistic that has helped get them to this point. The Steelheads special teams have been outstanding—fifth in the ECHL on the power play and third in the league in penalty kill. But the stunning unseen stat in Steelheads special teams performance: 62 games into the season, they’re the only team in the ECHL that hasn’t yet allowed a shorthanded goal. That’s one streak the Steelies will try to extend as they open a three-game series at Ontario tonight. The other is a season-long seven-game winning streak.
Boise State has advanced four competitors into today’s quarterfinals of the NCAA Wrestling Championships in Omaha. Kirk Smith, the top seed at 184 pounds, is joined by Adam Hall at 157, Jason Chamberlain at 149, and Levi Jones at 141. In tennis, Fresno State drew a definitive line in the sand yesterday at the Blue-Gray Classic at Montgomery, AL. The Bulldogs blitzed defending WAC champion Boise State, 4-0.
The PGA Tour’s Florida Swing continues this week, and former Boise State star Troy Merritt is back in action at the Transitions Championship in Innisbruck, FL.. The first round didn’t go well yesterday for Merritt, though. He bogeyed four consecutive holes on the front nine, including two doubles, on the way to a two-over-73. Merritt would need a round for the ages to make the cut today.
This Day In Sports…March 19, 1995, 15 years ago today:
The most memorable of all moments in the Pavilion’s NCAA Tournament history (at least until Hampton’s upset of Iowa State six years later) occurs in the second round game between UCLA and Missouri. With 4.9 seconds left, Mizzou held a 74-73 lead when Bruin guard Tyus Edney drove the length of the floor and hit a high floater at the buzzer to win the game, 75-74. UCLA would go on to win its 11th national championship two weeks later.
(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.)