Thursday, Mar 18 at 11:14 AM
Thursday, March 18, 2010.
It doesn’t have anything to do with “America’s Next Top Model.” But coach Chris Petersen uses the word “modeling” to describe Boise State’s approach to leadership. It’s not a rah-rah thing. It’s simply leading by example, a quality that runs rampant on the Bronco squad. The younger guys on the team model what they do after the veterans, and the older guys help ‘em out, even if those younger guys have a chance to take away their jobs. The process started in winter conditioning and is continuing in spring football. “We have a core group of about 20 guys that we try to rely on,” says Petersen. He stresses that the “modelers” aren’t necessarily starters, but they’re crucial in keeping the team on track. That’s why Pete downplays the importance of naming captains for this season. It’ll happen in good time.
Kevin Sapien is doing a different kind of “modeling” for Boise State in spring ball. Instead of a senior offensive guard, he is now “Coach Sapien” as he transitions to a new role. Sapien had to quit playing football after a series of stingers that all but debilitated him. “It’s scary when you’re talking about your neck,” said Petersen. “He was miserable in the Fiesta Bowl—and when you’re miserable in the Fiesta Bowl, you know something’s not right.” Fortunately for the Broncos, they have lots of options at guard. Brenel Myers, the Cinderella story at right tackle in the Fiesta Bowl, could move back to guard this season. Also getting work there are All-WAC tackle Nate Potter, 14-game starter Will Lawrence, and promising sophomore Joe Kellogg.
The Dance is on today, which brings up the question: Will the NCAA Tournament ever return to Boise? It’s been here eight times, most recently last year. The venue world has changed, though. Numerous new arenas have been built in the West in the new century, and they’re all tricked-out facilities. It’s not necessarily Taco Bell Arena’s capacity that leaves the future in doubt. The 12,380 seats are on the low end these days to be sure, but they always sell out, and the NCAA really likes the Boise community and the on-campus facility. Taco Bell Arena just has to compete technologically with these new Western showplaces, with exquisite sound systems, big screens, creature comforts, and the like. So we will see.
The WAC’s lone entry in the NIT, Nevada, advanced to the second round last night with a 74-70 win at Wichita State. Wolf Pack star Luke Babbitt played all 40 minutes and scored 23 points. Tonight, Louisiana Tech hosts Southern Miss in the College Insider.com Tournament. The Golden Eagles are led by former Idaho coach Larry Eustachy, who is in his sixth season at USM. Eustachy has resurrected his career after being fired by Iowa State over a drinking and coed-kissing episode at a student party in 2003. He coached the Vandals from 1990-93.
It looks like the Mountain West Tournament was a great one. Wish I could have seen some of it. Through upsets, San Diego State and UNLV ended up in the championship game instead of New Mexico and BYU. And all four ended up in the NCAA Tournament. But today is the first time most of the nation will be introduced to any of them. By my count, the Mountain West’s convoluted TV contract, which will come into play locally again in September when Boise State visits Wyoming, has three years to go. We’ll see what part that plays in any realignment upheaval between now and then. Oh yeah, today it’s UNLV against Northern Iowa, BYU versus Florida, San Diego State facing Tennessee, and New Mexico against Montana.
The Idaho Stampede didn’t have any more fun in Sioux Falls last night than they did the night before. And this one wasn’t as close, as the Skyforce kept the Stampede at bay in a 105-93 win. The Stamps managed only 41 percent shooting from the field and committed 21 turnovers, a huge number for a D-League game. They’re in a hole now in the race for the final West Conference playoff spot—two full games behind the Utah Flash with eight games to play. The Stampede fall to 20-22 and return home for two games this weekend against the Tulsa 66ers.
The Idaho Steelheads built a 5-1 third period lead against Utah last night in Qwest Arena and then coasted. The cruise control almost cost them, as the Grizzlies scored three times in a little over 10 minutes before the Steelheads prevailed, 5-4. Out of the game came a laundry list of notable numbers for the Steelheads. It was Derek Laxdal’s 300th professional win. The Steelies have a season-high seven-game winning streak, and they’ve equaled their highest victory total in the ECHL era with No. 44. And we’ve gotta mention that Mark Derlago scored yet again. Derlago’s third period goal was his 38th of the season—and his 29th in the last 30 games. The Steelheads now hit the road for three games at Ontario beginning tomorrow night.
Boise State hopes to redeem itself for what it feels was a subpar showing at the Pac-10 tournament when the NCAA Wrestling Championships open today in Omaha. The Broncos, who were runnerup to Oregon State in the Pac-10, have seven wrestlers entered at nationals, including four top 10 seeds. The group is led by Kirk Smith, the Centennial High grad who is the No. 1 seed at 184 pounds, and Adam Hall, seeded second at 157. Boise State was 12th at the Division I meet last year, equaling its best finish ever.
It’s WAC barometer day for the Boise State men’s tennis team. The Broncos begin play at the Blue-Gray Classic in Montgomery, AL, a prestigious 60-year-old invitational tournament. First-round matchups were drawn yesterday, and Boise State got Fresno State, a team that’s been on a roll and has its sights set on grabbing the WAC championship away from the Broncos. The two teams were in a dead heat last month in Fresno when rain washed out their match.
This Day In Sports…March 18, 1994:
Boise State, upset winner of the Big Sky Tournament the week before, takes on Denny Crum and Louisville in the NCAA West Regional at Arco Arena in Sacramento. The Cardinals dominated early and led by 12 at halftime, but BSU whittled away in the second half—closing to within five at one point behind four three-pointers from freshman J.D. Huleen. Shambric Williams was the night’s high scorer in his final BSU game, but Louisville won it 67-58.
(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.)