Monday, March 1, 2010.
There’s been more ugly than beauty this season as Boise State men’s basketball has dug its hole deeper and lost its fans. The Broncos have not mailed it in, though, as is evidenced by their upset win at Louisiana Tech and their near-miss at New Mexico State. Trailing by 20 points Saturday night in Las Cruces, BSU could have played out the string. But the Broncos staged a wild rally behind Reggie Arnold’s career night and lost by three, 95-92. Arnold poured in 35 points, offsetting a 1-for-13 combined night from Anthony Thomas and La’Shard Anderson. Just one three-pointer from Thomas could have turned it into a shocker of a week for Boise State. Instead, the senior was held scoreless.
History book time. Arnold’s 35 points were the most by a Boise State player in over 11 years—since Roberto Bergersen put up 36 against Gonzaga on New Year’s Day, 1999. And it was the most in a non-overtime road game in 35 years, since Pat Hoke scored 37 at Utah State in 1975. It was only the third time in the past nine games Arnold had even finished in double-figures. Almost as remarkable, though, is the fact that the JC transfer from Lancaster, CA, pulled down 15 rebounds. He also dished out five assists.
Right or wrong, things can change after the “underwear tests” at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. But many draft experts think Boise State’s Kyle Wilson made such a mark at the Senior Bowl in January that his Combine performance, or lack of it, won’t make much of a difference. As the Statesman’s Chadd Cripe reported, a hamstring strain suffered during personal training workouts in Orlando will have Wilson skipping all physical tests tomorrow except the bench press at the Combine. He wraps up his interviews and the Wonderlic test today. Wilson will do the running and agility drills for scouts at Boise State’s pro day on March 26.
Don Banks’ has updated his NFL mock draft at SI.com. Banks has Wilson as the 19th overall pick, going to Atlanta. Most mock drafts see Wilson going from late in the first round to midway through the second. Banks puts Idaho’s Mike Iupati in the No. 16 overall spot, going to the 49ers. Like Wilson, Iupati’s draft status is probably secure after what he did at the Senior Bowl. Iupati didn’t place in any of the offensive linemen physical testing at the Combine Saturday, but scouts got a load of what he can do on a football field during that January week in Mobile.
All in all, it was a productive and rewarding Winter Games for Idahoans. The number of athletes was similar to the past two Winter Olympics, but this time there was much potential shown, and a big piece of hardware secured. It started with Middleton’s Erik Fisher missing out on a starting spot in the men’s downhill lineup two weeks ago, but it was capped by Jeret “Speedy” Peterson’s dramatic sticking of his Hurricane jump, earning him a silver medal in the men’s aerials and a full-circle journey from the pain of Torino and everything that came after.
The Vancouver Olympics were also marked by the effort of Boise’s Sara Studebaker in the biathlon, the close-but-no-cigar by Sandpoint’s Nate Holland in the snowboardcross, and the admirable showing by effervescent former Boise State trackster Nick Cunningham in the two-man and four-man bobsled. And for purposes of this paragraph, we’ll acknowledge U.S. women’s hockey player Hilary Knight as an Idahoan—which she now is—and salute the silver medal she’ll take back to Sun Valley.
There was a time when the big, physical and prideful Alaska Aces would give the Idaho Steelheads perpetual fits. But Alaska was thumped in three consecutive games by the Steelheads, capped by a 7-1 rout Saturday night in Qwest Arena. The shots-on-goal advantage Idaho has enjoyed all season was just sick in the series finale—the Steelheads outshot the Aces, 51-14. Unbelievable. The Steelies now have eight wins in 10 tries against Alaska this season, with two more games in Anchorage at the end of this month. The Steelheads’ six-game homestand continues Wednesday night against Bakersfield.
The name of Dontrelle Willis, just named last Thursday as the Boise Hawks’ No. 1 pitcher of the decade, has been popping up here the past week as spring training gets underway. You get to wondering how a guy’s doing after winning only one game in the first two seasons of a three-year, $29 million contract with Detroit. Control problems and persistent injuries have derailed the D-Train, the one-time National League Rookie of the Year. Well, Willis is trying again with the Tigers this year—manager Jim Leyland says the 28-year-old leftie “threw extremely well” in his first bullpen session at spring training. Willis is also getting an “honorary win” from fans right now for helping sell good friend Johnny Damon on the benefits of joining the Tigers. In two seasons with Detroit, Willis is 1-6 with an 8.32 ERA and has walked 63 batters in 57 2/3 innings.
Boise State lost two conference championships many thought it would win—and picked up one that was unexpected over the weekend. The Broncos were denied their third straight Pac-10 wrestling championship when they advanced only two wrestlers to the finals Saturday In Davis, CA. They were subsequently taken down by two points by Oregon State. And the BSU men were edged by Utah State for the WAC Indoor Track & Field championship at the Idaho Sports Center. But the Bronco women captured their first WAC Swimming & Diving title in only their fifth season of existence, outdistancing runnerup San Jose State by over 100 points.
The Idaho Stampede have hit the “reheat” button, and they appear to be warming up after their road sweep of Albuquerque. Donell Taylor has been putting this team on his shoulders, capping the conquest of the Thunderbirds with 24 points in Friday night’s 105-100 win. But more significantly, the Stamps showed their grit is back, out-rebounding Albuquerque by 16. The Stampede, winners of three of their last four games, play at Utah Wednesday night.
This Day In Sports…March 1, 1969:
After batting only .245 and .237 the previous two seasons, 37-year-old Mickey Mantle retires after 18 seasons with the New York Yankees. Mantle hit 536 career home runs and played on seven Yankee world championship teams. He won three MVP’s, four home run titles, and the 1956 Triple Crown with a league-leading .353. batting average, 52 homers, and 130 runs batted in.
(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.)