Monday, February 10, 2014.
This time it wasn’t a late-game collapse. It was just one team shooting a lot better than the other. In the second half, that served as a drip-drip-drip for Boise State as it suffered a tortuous 76-70 loss to Utah State Saturday at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum. After a solid start by the Broncos that saw a nine-point lead dwindle to a 33-33 tie at the intermission, the Aggies went lights-out after halftime. USU shot 62½ percent from the field during the final 20 minutes to pull away and was able to keep a late Boise State push at bay. So there it is: the Broncos’ first three-game losing streak of the season—and an 0-18 record all-time in Logan.
The only two Boise State players who remember the Broncos’ last trip to the Cache Valley, a 77-49 loss in 2011, are seniors Ryan Watkins and Thomas Bropleh. Neither player exactly got his revenge on Utah State for that freshman year blowout. After six straight double-doubles, Watkins missed out for the second consecutive game, recording seven points and nine rebounds while battling sickness, according to coach Leon Rice. Bropleh, who had put up 41 points in the previous three games, went 0-for-7 from the field. He did pull down a career-high nine rebounds, though.
Rice tried to expand the Boise State bench at Utah State, but the scoring from that group contracted. With Jeff Elorriaga sidelined for the second game in a row, Mikey Thompson got a second start, and the Bronco bench shrunk. Still, Rice inserted five backups against USU at one point or another. But they produced a total of only three points, all from Dezmyn Trent. Bropleh’s offensive struggles have been documented, while Igor Hadziomerovic, Joe Hanstad and Jake Ness didn’t so much as take a shot in 24 combined minutes. Now there’s more fun in store for the Broncos, as New Mexico comes to Taco Bell Arena Wednesday night.
Boise State spring football begins one month from today. At that time the quarterback position will get its usual attention. Where does it stand now? There’s no more Nick Patti, and there’s no doubt who the Broncos’ starter is. Offensive coordinator Mike Sanford and coach Bryan Harsin will spend the next four weeks getting ready to install the Boise State offense as they visualize it, and they’ll dissect last season’s game tape to determine how Grant Hedrick’s unique talents can enhance it. At the same time, Tommy Stuart will be gearing up for his first shot at the backup spot, and Ryan Finley will be evaluated by medical and training staff to see how far his healing process will allow him to dive into the competition this spring.
If we have the Boise State spring football countdown activated, we may as well get the clock updated on the season opener in August. How about that—it’s 199 days until the Broncos face Ole Miss in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game in the Georgia Dome. The Rebels didn’t produce one of the nation’s top recruiting classes the way they did a year ago. But the 2014 group was still rated between 15th and 19th among the major recruiting websites. The most fascinating aspect of signing day for the Rebs was the letter of intent they received from DJ Law of Haines City, FL. Utah received a signed letter from Laws, too. Ole Miss promptly released Law from his Rebels letter.
It was an Idaho tie that slipped by us, but we’ll claim Sage Kotsenburg, even though he was raised in Park City, UT (it’s kind of like “Nampa native Robert Garrigus” on the PGA Tour). Kotsenburg, born in Coeur d’Alene, claimed the first gold medal of the Winter Olympics Saturday—and the first gold ever in the sport of slopestyle. Kotsenburg’s legend will be his, uh, improvisation. Also, Sun Valley’s Hilary Knight scored the first women’s hockey goal of the Games in the United States’ 3-1 win over Finland. Rigby’s Jessika Jenson missed the finals in women’s slopestyle but got an “I heart Idaho” onto NBC. Boise High grad Sara Studebaker was 44th in the women’s biathlon but was the second-best American. And Middleton’s Erik Fisher, denied a spot in the US lineup after training runs, had to watch the men’s downhill yesterday.
Maybe Luke Judson left his heart in San Francisco; maybe he didn’t. But at least he didn’t leave his stick down there. Judson has scored in all three Idaho Steelheads games he has played since being rescued after the San Francisco Bulls went dark. That includes two goals Saturday night as the Steelheads completed a weekend sweep of the Colorado Eagles with a 3-1 victory. Judson netted one goal Friday night in a 4-2 win that was positively bizarre. Colorado outshot the Steelies 49-17, yet Idaho won. That brings up goalie Pat Nagle, who picked up two more victories in the sweep. How about 47 saves in that Friday tilt? The Steelheads, now riding a four-game winning streak, stay home for three games this week against Bakersfield.
Now, for Pierre Jackson’s encore to last Wednesday D-League record 58 points. Jackson’s numbers seemed almost ordinary by comparison in the Stampede’s split at Reno over the weekend. He scored 39 points in Friday night’s 108-101 loss and 28 in yesterday’s 103-92 win. Shame on anyone for calling that ordinary. Jackson is averaging—averaging—30½ points per game, leading the rest of the D-League field by almost six points. The Stamps were a lot more balanced in their Sunday victory, as they placed five players in double figures. Dee Bost was one of them, but again his pivotal contribution came through his assists, 16 of them. The Stampede go to the coast now to face Santa Cruz tomorrow night.
Former Boise State standout Troy Merritt’s struggles continue in his return to the PGA Tour this season. Merritt missed the 54-hole cut at the AT&T National Pro-Am Saturday by one stroke. He sandwiched a pair of 74s at Monterey Peninsula and Pebble Beach around a sparkling three-under 69 Friday at Spyglass. Merritt has missed the cut in all six of his tour starts so far this season.
Campus clips: the Boise State women’s basketball team, behind 34 points from Miquelle Askew, routed Utah State 83-62 to move into sole possession of second place in the Mountain West. The College of Idaho men, ranked eighth in NAIA Division II, nabbed their eighth straight win, 67-54 over Eastern Oregon. The Boise State men’s tennis team had a productive weekend on the road, knocking off previously undefeated Utah 5-2 and edging BYU 4-3. The win over the Cougars avenged a 4-3 loss to them last year that snapped the Broncos’ 28-match home winning streak. The 18th-ranked Boise State gymnastics team won the Chicago Style quadrangular Friday night in Chicago. And the Bronco wrestling team’s dual with Oregon State for the Border Axe Friday night was cancelled when the Beavers couldn’t fly out of Portland.
This Day In Sports…February 10, 2011:
At the time the longest-tenured coach in any of the four major professional sports, Jerry Sloan resigns in the midst of his 23rd season leading the Utah Jazz. Sloan began working for the Jazz as a scout in 1983 and became an assistant to coach Frank Layden the following year. He replaced Layden in December, 1988. Sloan is the only coach in NBA history to win 1,000 games with one team. Sloan, who also coached the Chicago Bulls for three seasons, finished with 1,221 career victories, third on the NBA career list behind Don Nelson and Lenny Wilkens.
(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.)