Thursday, April 1, 2010.
Like it or not, Boise State can’t shake its reputation for trick plays. There was only one in the Fiesta Bowl, of course, but it did in TCU. Virginia Tech is not only aware of that, the Hokies are confident they can pull shenanigans as well. Kyle Tucker of the Virginian-Pilot wrote a long (we’re talkin’ l-o-n-g) offensive overview of Virginia Tech as it opened spring football. Tucker asked Hokie offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring about “having some element of surprise, at least for the Boise State opener.” Replied Stinespring, “Anybody would think when you have (running backs like) Ryan Williams and Darren Evans and David Wilson and Josh Oglesby that there’s a possibility that you may see more of this (two-back) set. But what you’re going to do out of it, that’s still the mystery.” Sounds like he said it with a smile. Labor Day’s going to be wild.
If there’s going to be a quarterback controversy at Fresno State this season, it’ll be two-way instead of three-way. Ebahn Feathers, the much-hyped hometown recruit who got precious little playing time as a freshman last season, has left the Bulldogs program. I mean, literally. He hasn’t returned any calls or text messages from the Fresno State coaching staff in over a month and a half. So Pat Hill figured that’s that. Feathers was going to be the guy that could have turned the Bulldogs into a spread team, but you know Hill never was comfortable with that. So he has incumbent Ryan Colburn competing with popular up-and-comer Derek Carr, brother of Bulldog great David Carr, as spring football opens next Wednesday.
I don’t know how pivotal this season is for coach John Zamberlin at Idaho State. He’s only 5-29 in three years with the Bengals, but last month they signed him to a contract extension through 2012. The last two years, ISU has had to win its last game of the season to avoid going winless. With that backdrop, the Bengals opened spring football Tuesday. Former Timberline standout Russel Hill enters his senior season at quarterback and is considered the favorite to start. Other Treasure Valley notables include offensive guard Mitch Rudder, the Skyview High grad who transferred from Boise State, and leading tackler A.J. Storms, the former Meridian star.
More mock drafts than not have former Boise State star Kyle Wilson going in the first round of the NFL Draft later this month. But you just don’t know—not until April 22. Wilson was in Pittsburgh yesterday with four other prospects to meet with the Steelers. Pittsburgh has the 18th selection in the draft. One of the eight analysts on USA Today’s mock draft panel thinks that’s where Wilson will go. It’s kind of like campus visits in college recruiting right now. NFL teams can meet with as many as 30 players up to a week before the draft.
It was the highest-scoring game in NBA D-League history. And the Idaho Stampede eclipsed the highest one-team point total ever in the league by 10, outgunning Rio Grande Valley 165-153 in overtime last night in Qwest Arena. The box score was mind-boggling. For the first time in franchise history (to anyone’s knowledge), the Stampede had three players eclipse the 30-point mark. Andre Barrett scored 42, tops for the Stamps this season. Donell Taylor had 34, and Mildon Ambres had 32, including a game-tying three-pointer with three seconds to go to send the game into OT. All five Idaho starters recorded double-doubles. Quite a night for a team that had just been eliminated from the D-League Playoffs and was hosting a team playing for the NBADL West Division championship.
Two players on the All-Rookie team, but no win last night for the Idaho Steelheads. The Alaska Aces finally clinched their spot in the Kelly Cup Playoffs with a 4-3 shootout win over the Steelheads in Anchorage. The ECHL postseason awards are coming down the pike now, and the first came in the form of the All-Rookie team earlier in the day. The Steelies accounted for a third of the squad, as forward Evan Barlow and goalie Richard Bachman were named first-team. Barlow leads ECHL rookies in plus/minus at plus-30 and is second among league rookies in points with 73. Bachman is the ECHL’s overall leader in goals-against average at 2.28. Both played in the ECHL All-Star Game in January.
Meanwhile, the reality of playoff hockey has spurred the Steelheads front office to action. Teams need to resell their entire arenas for the Kelly Cup Playoffs, and a tough task it is. So if you visit the Qwest Arena box office today only and buy tickets for Idaho’s playoff opener on Friday, April 16, you’ll get free tickets for the Saturday, April 17, game. If you hurry, you can get a free Steelheads T-shirt to boot. No April foolin’.
Pitching has been identified as a key for the Chicago Cubs this season. If they’re serious about contending in the NL Central, they have to shore that area up. Former Boise Hawk Randy Wells is being counted on to help keep it together, and he’s had a solid spring. The 27-year-old righthander allowed one run in 5 2/3 innings Monday in an 8-1 win over the Reds to improve to 3-0 in the Cactus League. Wells finally gets to suit up for the Cubs on Opening Day next week instead of being reassigned to the minors. “It will be kind of weird getting on a charter jet instead of a commercial one to Albuquerque or something,” Wells said. And it’s a far cry from a bus trip to Eugene in the Northwest League.
The Boise State men’s tennis team is licking its wounds after absorbing a 7-0 shutout at the hands of ninth-ranked UCLA yesterday in Los Angeles. The Broncos didn’t come close in the three matches that decided the doubles point. Then in singles, all but BSU No. 6 player Jeff Mullen were straight-setted right out of Westwood. The Boise State spotlight now turns to track and field, as the Broncos host the All-Idaho Collegiate Meet tomorrow in what should be a bundled-up Bronco Stadium.
This Day In Sports…April 1, 2006:
George Mason’s Cinderella run in the NCAA Tournament ends with a 73-58 loss to eventual national champion Florida at the Final Four in Indianapolis. The suburban commuter school from Fairfax, VA, produced one of the great stories in the history of March Madness, knocking off Michigan State, North Carolina, and Wichita State to reach the Elite Eight. The 11th-seeded Patriots then stunned No. 1 seed Connecticut, 86-84 in overtime, to reach the Final Four. In December of that year, George Mason took out a full page ad in the Idaho Statesman wishing fellow Cinderella Boise State good luck against Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl.
(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.)