Friday, February 9, 2018.
This men’s basketball season has been so eventful and pressure-packed, it feels like the first of March, doesn’t it? Boise State still has six Mountain West games still to go in the regular season, though. So much has been made of the Valentine’s Day matchup against Nevada, but there’ll be four more games after that. And oh by the way, there’s one before it, as the Broncos visit Utah State tomorrow night. Placed as it is between an emotional victory at New Mexico and the showdown with the Wolf Pack, this can be classified as a trap game. In the past two weeks, USU has upended Fresno State on the road and beaten New Mexico at home. And we’re talkin’ Logan, where Boise State was 0-18 until its breakthrough win three years ago (although the Broncos have won twice more there since).
Remember that the contest between Boise State and Utah State at Taco Bell Arena last month was a struggle—a 71-67 victory that saw the Broncos rally from a nine-point hole in the second half. The player to watch tomorrow night would be Chris Sengfelder, who was 0-for-5 from the field and scored two points the first time against the Aggies. Sengfelder is now coming off his best performance as a Bronco, considering the scene and the situation. He scored 24 points with eight rebounds—seven of them on the offensive end—in Tuesday night’s amazing win at The Pit. USU’s Sam Merrill awaits on the other side. Merrill scored 23 points in Boise in January, going 5-for-6 from three-point range.
The Denver Post reported yesterday that Larry Eustachy has been fired as coach at Colorado State, but the university says no decision can be made until it meets with Eustachy and his representatives, and that session can’t happen until early next week. CSU players boycotted practice yesterday to protest a lack of communication from the administration, claiming they’re getting all the information on their plight from media reports. Eustachy has been on adminstrative leave since last Saturday as the school investigates him and his program. The Rams, who have lost seven straight games, are home tomorrow against San Jose State.
The Mountain West Connection fan site has wrapped up recruiting season with a list of the conference’s top 10 players of the 2018 class. Boise State has six of them, including wide receiver Khalil Shakir at No. 1. “An elite talent who can be used in a variety of ways on offense, Shakir should make an immediate impact due to his versatility and pure athleticism,” the synopsis says. “Simply put, he’s the type of player who is a threat anytime the ball is in his hands (receiver, runner, returner). With the Bronco’s many offensive sets and trick plays, he will be a perfect fit.” New Broncos who are also in the top 10 are tight end Tyneil Hopper, running back Andrew Van Buren, cornerback Chris Mitchell, wide receiver Stefan Cobbs and defensive end Kukea Emmsley.
Khalil Oliver apparently never reconnected with Boise State, and the former Rocky Mountain star is headed to Missouri to finish his college career. Oliver was the Broncos’ first commit for the 2014 recruiting class, giving his verbal in March, 2013. He decommitted when Chris Petersen left for Washington that December—and opted to go to Oregon. Oliver was injured in the Ducks’ opener last September and was declared out for the season. Several weeks later he announced he’d be leaving the Oregon program. Oliver will graduate from UO this spring and will be eligible immediately at Missouri as a senior, but he could get an additional year if he’s granted a medical redshirt for the 2017 season.
Bob Davie’s days may be numbered at New Mexico. The veteran head coach has been suspended for 30 days by UNM after the release of an investigation by a Chicago law firm into alleged misconduct in Davie’s program. The report reviewed three incidents and recommends that university leadership “take strong action to ensure that the University does not and will not—in any aspect of the University’s program, including athletics—tolerate sexual harassment, sexual assault, physical abuse or other prohibited misconduct against its students.” The firm examined one case in which a female student had reported to UNM Police that a football player had raped her and suggested that Davie had tried to interfere with the investigation of the case. This is not good.
The Opening Ceremonies in Pyeongchang are done—and ready to watch in a packaged version tonight on NBC. Thumbing through the Winter Olympics medal projections in Sports Illustrated, well, I didn’t see any of the nine athletes with Idaho ties listed (outside of a predicted silver for the U.S. women’s hockey team and Sun Valley’s Hilary Knight). That’s not surprising. But who figured on Sun Valley’s Kaitlyn Farrington and Coeur d’Alene’s Sage Kotsenburg winning gold medals at Sochi in 2014? You never know. You do know that Farrington was forced to retire due to a spine condition and is part of the NBC announcing crew in Pyeongchang. Kotsenburg gave up competition officially last summer to concentrate on producing snowboarding films.
On the local pro beat, the Idaho Steelheads are in the middle of their final regular-season visit to Loveland, CO. The Colorado Eagles are slated to move to the American Hockey League next season, so this ECHL rivalry is in its final stages. The Steelheads got the better of it in the first matchup Wednesday night, winning 4-2 with the help of two goals from rookie star Justin Parizek. And Troy Merritt, struggling on the PGA Tour since the beginning of the year, roared out of the gate yesterday at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Merritt started on the back nine at Pebble Beach Golf Links and was seven-under after 11 holes, briefly leading the field. The former Boise State star finished the first round with a five-under 67, two shots off the pace.
Back to hoops—Idaho has a pivotal Big Sky matchup tonight against Eastern Washington in Cowan Spectrum. The Vandals learned last week they can win big without star Victor Sanders having a big night. Sanders scored eight points in UI’s 81-58 victory at Sacramento State, breaking his 47-game streak in double-figures. College of Idaho, now ranked No. 4 in NAIA Division II, travels to Multnomah tonight and No. 13 Warner Pacific tomorrow night for its final two regular-season road games. The Coyotes have won 11 games in a row. And the Boise State women host Utah State tomorrow afternoon in Taco Bell Arena. In the past four games, the Broncos have scored 112, 49, 54 and 91 points. What’ll it be against the Aggies?
This Day In Sports…February 9, 1960:
In a loss to Detroit, Philadelphia Warriors rookie center Wilt Chamberlain scores 41 points to break the NBA single-season scoring record of 2,105 points set by St. Louis Hawks forward Bob Pettit the previous season. Chamberlain ended up with 2,707 points and was the easy choice for NBA Rookie of the Year. The next season Chamberlain would improve on that mark with 3,033, and two years later he would finish with 4,029 points and average 50.4 points per game, two records that may never be broken.
(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 FM KTIK. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)