Tuesday, December 10, 2013.
In the past three games (excluding Carroll College), Boise State has been increasingly pestered around the three-point line. The team that put up 101 treys in its first four games and hit 46 percent of them has had to find other ways to get it done offensively, primarily by driving the lane. And it has worked. The problem is, Kentucky may pick both poisons tonight—blanketing the three-point line and clogging the lane—and find the antidote for success. The Wildcats are athletic enough. They’ll know where Derrick Marks is at all times, since he often comes up big in big games. Last year, Marks scored 24 points in the Broncos’ four-point loss at Michigan State. Then he put up 35, including 18 straight at one point, in the upset of No. 11 Creighton. And in the Mountain West season, Marks poured in 38 in a pivotal March win over Colorado State.
Kentucky has watched plenty of tape on Jeff Elorriaga and has seen the senior guard denied his three-point shot by Idaho, Portland State and Utah. In Boise State’s last three games against Division I foes, Elorriaga is just 2-for-4 from three-point range. The Wildcats may have lost to Baylor last Friday, but they held the Bears, the Big 12’s three-point shooting leaders, to 2-for-11 from beyond the arc. The two made threes and 18 percent accuracy were season lows for Baylor. And UK is pretty good at shooting the trey itself—it has made a three-pointer in 869 conseutive games.
Kentucky fell to No. 11 in the new AP Poll and No. 10 in the Coaches Poll after its loss to Baylor. Boise State is fourth in line to get in the AP Top 25 and fifth in line on the Coaches list. The Wildcats are favored by 12½ points tonight. Could be more by tipoff considering the travel ordeal the Broncos have experienced. Their flight from Chicago to Lexington yesterday was cancelled by the massive storm enveloping the Midwest and East, and they had to bus about 400 miles, arriving at midnight last night.
New Washington coach Chris Petersen did address his former home off the top of his first press conference in Seattle. It was brief, though, as saying “I’d like to thank the people in Boise so much” got his emotions going. You can see Petersen dig a little deeper in his one-on-one with Jay Tust at KTVB.com. There was no shocking revelation at his presser as to why he left Boise State last Friday after eight years as head coach. “Timing and fit,” said Petersen. “Every place has kind of a shelf life. Sometimes it’s short, sometimes it’s long, and sometimes it’s in between.” He said he had to get out of his “comfort zone over there,” and that “it’ll be good for Boise as well.” It just comes down to the fact that it was time. “I needed to take a step out of Boise to grow and improve,” Petersen said. “I didn’t want to leave Boise if I thought it would be bad for them.”
A couple other highlights from the presser. Will Petersen beat Oregon? “Do we have to start that already?” he quipped (without mentioning he’s 2-0 versus the Ducks). “We’ll be swinging hard.” Will Petersen make Washington his final stop? “Do you know how long it took me to leave Boise?” he grinned. “I really hope I can stay here a really long time.” Just like Boise. And Petersen was here a long time—probably five years longer than anyone had a right to expect.
Former Oregon coach and athletic director Mike Bellotti, who had Petersen on his Ducks staff in the 1990s, had plenty to say about the Boise State job search yesterday on Idaho SportsTalk. Bellotti also had Justin Wilcox as a player and Dirk Koetter as an offensive coordinator. “I still think it’s going to be considered one of the best non-BCS jobs out there,” said Bellotti of the Bronco post. Bellotti is high on Wilcox, whether he stays at Washington with Petersen, follows Steve Sarkisian to USC, or is named head coach at Boise State. Bellotti’s high on Koetter as well. “Dirk has said to me many times, ‘you know, I’m not sure if I should have ever left Boise.’” And then there’s former Cal coach Jeff Tedford. Bellotti said Tedford is “very interested in the Boise job.” Don’t hold Cal against him.
Arkansas State head coach Bryan Harsin, the Capital High grad and former Boise State offensive coordinator, was in town yesterday to interview for the Bronco vacancy. It’s a sticky spot for Harsin, who took over at ASU a year ago with an assurance that the Red Wolves wouldn’t have to go through a third straight one-and-done ordeal after Hugh Freeze bolted for Ole Miss and Gus Malzahn for Auburn after one season apiece. Harsin agreed to a $1.75 million buyout on his contract to back that up. He just didn’t expect his dream job to open up so soon. Koetter was reportedly interviewed last night via phone from the Atlanta Falcons practice facility. No word on Wilcox’s doings. That could mean nothing—or everything.
Usually we count up as the recruiting season progresses for Boise State. Now the count is going down, at least for the time being. Defensive lineman Greg Gaines of LaHabra, CA, has become the second decommit since Petersen accepted the Washington job last Friday, according to Scout.com. Don Hill is in an interesting place. The defensive lineman out of Timberline was recruited by both Boise State and Washington and chose the Huskies over the Broncos in May. Now Chris Petersen is in Seattle—a coach he likes at the program he prefers. Hill is still listed at Scout.com as a UW commit.
Boise State’s team banquet Sunday afternoon was a bit different without Petersen there, but the takeaway from that event is always the Scout Team Player of the Year awards. Winners more often than not go on to big things with the Broncos. The Defensive Player of the Year was none other than Joey Martarano, the linebacker and one-time pro baseball prospect out of Fruitland High. The offensive honor went to wide receiver Terrell Johnson, a redshirting junior college transfer from Montgomery, AL, by way of California’s Saddleback College. And the Special Teams Scout Player of the Year was Tanner Shipley, the wide receiver from Wilsonville, OR. File those names away.
The Famous Idaho Potato Bowl hasn’t had an alumnus of the game selected in the first round of the NFL Draft since Idaho offensive guard Mike Iupati and Georgia Tech wide receiver Demaryius Thomas in 2010. Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack, set to lead the Bulls onto the blue turf December 21, could be the next. Mack, the MAC Defensive Player of the Year and 2013 Jack Lambert Award winner, will try to add to his NCAA record 75 career tackles-for-loss and 16 career forced fumbles when he faces San Diego State. Mack also finished second to Alabama’s C.J. Mosley in voting for the Butkus Award. The State University of New York-Buffalo and California State University San Diego (that’s the last time I’ll call them that) kick off a week from Saturday at 3:30 p.m. in Bronco Stadium.
The valley has its own basketball energy going tonight, as the College of Idaho and Northwest Nazarene meet for the 194th time in Part II of this year’s United Heritage Mayors’ Cup series. The Coyotes won 93-83 over the Crusaders last month at the J.A. Albertson Activities Center. Tonight’s game is an exhibition for the Yotes and a counter for NNU. C of I is 10-4 and is coming off a 115-78 road rout of Evergreen State Saturday, as Josh Wilson recorded the first triple-double by a Coyote in over 15 years, with 13 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds. The Crusaders are 2-6 and broke a five-game losing streak Saturday night with a 63-61 victory at Montana State-Billings.
This Day In Sports…December 10, 1994:
In the Division I-AA semi-finals at Bronco Stadium, Boise State rallies past Marshall, 28-24, to advance to the championship game the following week on Marshall’s home field. A battered Tony Hilde threw two first half interceptions and was replaced by Mark Paljatak before halftime. Paljatak ate into a 24-7 Marshall lead with a touchdown pass to Lee Schrack. Hilde returned in the second half and hit Schrack for the winning TD. Coach Pokey Allen had said he’d ride a horse down Broadway if 20,000 fans showed up. They did—and he did.
(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.)