Wednesday, February 19, 2014.
The Statesman’s Dave Southorn has to feel good about his outstanding essay yesterday on the challenging life of Thomas Bropleh’s family. Because nobody had a bigger hand in Boise State’s 84-72 win at Colorado State last night than Bropleh did. He went scoreless in the first half and didn’t hit his first bucket until a three-pointer fell with 15:20 left in the game. Then, time after time, the senior guard from Denver gave the Broncos separation when CSU thought it could mount a charge. There would be three more treys and a total of 18 points, a fairly big thrill for his family and friends who had come up to Fort Collins. On four occasions his baskets either gave Boise State its biggest lead or equaled it. And his final three-pointer with 1:02 left put the game away. It was Bropleh’s highest-scoring night against a Division I team since November of 2011.
Colorado State is known for its rebounding, and the Rams gave Boise State a bit of its own offensive glass medicine. That’s the reason this game wasn’t more in the blowout realm. The Rams pulled down 16 offensive rebounds to partially offset 44 percent shooting. That doesn’t mean the Broncos were deficient on the boards. They were outrebounded by only one (31-30), and Ryan Watkins logged a game-high 12 to hit double-digits in rebounding for the 16th time in 26 games this season. Watkins scored nine points, just missing a 13th double-double in this, his senior year.
There were four Mountain West venues at which Boise State had never won. Now there are three, as the Broncos’ win at Colorado State was their first in seven tries. Their only previous road win in Mountain West play this season came at Nevada in mid-January. Let’s go to the “team effort” cliché for this one—easy to do when you look at the assists column. Boise State registered a season-high 21 assists on 29 made baskets. Of course, you can’t gather assists if the ball isn’t going in the hoop. The Broncos shot almost 55 percent from the field and 59 percent from three-point range. Not to mention a 13-for-13 night from the free throw line. Now that Boise State has conquered the court in Fort Collins, it needs to protect its own. There’s some kind of buildup brewing for Saturday night’s game in Taco Bell Arena against UNLV.
In the Mountain West’s feature game last night, No. 6 San Diego State, which had been penalized only one spot in the AP Poll Monday after its loss at Wyoming last week, blistered Utah State, 60-45. New Mexico, still getting votes in both polls despite its defeat at Taco Bell Arena a week ago, plays a big one at UNLV tonight. Also in the conference, Wyoming beat Fresno State 72-66 in Laramie last night, but the win was clouded by a knee injury to Cowboys star Larry Nance Jr. Nance wasn’t able to put any weight on it when he left the floor. And in Reno, San Jose State got its first-ever Mountain West victory after 13 losses, upending Nevada, 66-64.
As Demarcus Lawrence, Charles Leno and Matt Paradis arrive in Indianapolis for the NFL Combine, there will be a proud mentor for one of them monitoring the process from Boise State’s Bleymaier Football Center. It was chronic injuries to Thomas Byrd that gave Paradis his opportunity to become the starting center for the Broncos, and Byrd’s coaching career essentially began his senior year, as his playing time was limited. “He basically just follows me around and coaches me the whole practice,” Paradis told the Statesman’s Chadd Cripe during spring football in 2011. “He’s been a great resource. He’s brilliant.” Byrd went on to serve as offensive line coach at Contra Costa College in his hometown of San Pablo, CA, in 2012 before becoming a grad assistant for Bryan Harsin last year at Arkansas State, the role he now fills for the Broncos.
Sandpoint’s Nate Holland has a medal to hang from every finger (save for his thumbs) from the X Games. But there’s still no Olympic hardware for the snowboard cross specialist after the first heat exit yesterday in Sochi. Holland placed 14th in Turin in 2006 and just missed the podium in Vancouver in 2010, finishing fourth. With no appreciable endorsement money coming his way, he can revert to making money the old-fashioned way this summer—from his small business. Holland opened a water sports recreation business in Sandpoint, Action Water Sports, with his brother Patrick four years ago. The Hollands give wakeboard and water ski lessons, rent boats, jet skis, paddle boards, kayaks and canoes out at Lake Pend Orielle. Sounds like a nice consolation.
In case you missed it, Erik Fisher is back in Boise after missing a starting spot in the downhill for the US Olympic team in Sochi. The Middleton skier told KTVB an MRI showed his left knee to be only 30 percent functional. Fisher says he’ll have surgery later this spring but expects to be back in action for the final World Cup event of the season. And he’s not ruling out a run at the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea.
Graham DeLaet will be putting last week behind him when he tees off today at the Accenture Match Play Championship in Marana, AZ. DeLaet faces Patrick Reed in the first round in the Bobby Jones Bracket at the World Golf Championships event. The former Boise State star didn’t have the usual juice going at the Northern Trust Open, making the cut but finishing tied for 70th Sunday. DeLaet had just one sub-par round at Riviera Country Club near Los Angeles. The $13,199 he earned would be a pretty darn good week at the office for you and me, but it pales in comparison to the six-digit checks Delaet has become accustomed to.
The Idaho Steelheads have this year what the Utah Grizzlies had last year: forward Mitch Wahl. He helped put the hurt on his old squad Monday with a goal and an assist in the third period of a 3-2 win and will seek a sequel tonight (and again Friday, for that matter) in West Valley City. Wahl leads the Steelheads and is tied for 10th in the ECHL in scoring with 43 points in 45 games this season. Furthermore, he tops the team in penalty minutes with 116. And Wahl’s not an import from the Frozen North—he was born in Seal Beach, CA. The Steelies are in the midst of probably their best stretch this season, winning seven of their last nine games to leapfrog the Colorado Eagles into third place in the ECHL's Western Conference.
The Idaho Stampede reconvene tonight following the All-Star break with a CenturyLink Arena date versus Maine. The Stampede are trying to stay north of .500 as the final third of the season approaches. The Stamps sit in fourth place in the D-League West Division at 17-15—2½ games behind the first-place L.A. D-Fenders, who they play on the road Friday night. Idaho is just 9-15 since its 8-0 start in November and December. The Red Claws are in third in the East Division with a 14-17 record.
The Boise State women’s basketball team is set for its biggest game of the season tonight, hosting Mountain West leader Colorado State in Taco Bell Arena. The Broncos are now 14-9, having won 10 of their 13 games since Christmas. They come in at 9-3 in the Mountain West, in sole possession of second place, while the Rams are 12-1. BSU has won six straight home games. Elsewhere, the Cascade Conference champion College of Idaho men moved up to No. 5 in the NAIA Division II poll.
This Day In Sports…February 19, 1984, 30 years ago today:
Brothers Phil and Steve Mahre make history by winning the gold and silver medals in the Olympic slalom at Sarajevo. Steve had the fastest first run, but Phil’s combined time was 21-hundredths of a second faster than his brother’s. That story matched Bill Johnson’s upset win in the downhill as the biggest of the 1984 Winter Games. The biggest story of those Olympics now is the tragedy that befell Sarajevo in the years following the Games.
(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 93.1 The Ticket. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)