Thursday, January 16, 2014.
The mini-firestorm Boise State basketball found itself in leading up to the Nevada game is actually a sign of growth in the program. The tempest in the Idaho SportsTalk teapot subsided after the Broncos’ 74-65 win over the Wolf Pack, but the program is still a topic. Four years ago you never would have heard discussion on IST regarding Bronco hoops, much less a phone call about it. But Monday and Tuesday, the airwaves were active. There’s nothing worse than apathy, and Boise State basketball was saddled with that for several years during the Greg Graham era. Not to forget that attendance hit rock-bottom at 3,061 per game during Graham’s final season. That number has more than doubled now, and the on-air conversation—be it positive or negative—is a sure sign that fans care again.
Depth might not be what was expected this season at Boise State, but coach Leon Rice said yesterday on KTIK’s Bob & Murph Show he’s still trying to develop it. The past month and a half Rice has employed an eight-man rotation, with Mikey Thompson, Nick Duncan and Thomas Bropleh coming off the bench. True freshman guard Dezmyn Trent played two minutes in Tuesday night’s win in Reno—he had played just one minute in the previous six weeks. Forward Edmunds Dukulis has logged just one minute since the weekend before Thanksgiving. Both minutes for Trent and Dukulis came at the end of the blowout of South Carolina at the Diamond Head Classic two nights before Christmas. If just one of those two could break through and contribute during the Mountain West season, it would benefit the Broncos greatly.
We’re into our third year of Mountain West basketball around here, and it is a hoot. UNLV has not been itself this season and was coming off back-to-back losses to Air Force and Nevada in the Thomas & Mack Center going into last night’s game at New Mexico. So what do the Rebels do? They knock off the Lobos 76-73 before 15,351 fans in the Pit. UNLV evened its conference record at 2-2 while handing New Mexico its first league loss. Boise State goes to Albuquerque next Tuesday night. There were no other surprises in the Mountain West last night as everybody else held serve at home. Utah State, headed to Taco Bell Arena for a pivotal game Saturday night, clipped Colorado State 57-50, No. 10 San Diego State won its 14th straight game in handling Fresno State 68-60, and Air Force stopped San Jose State 77-62.
With Nick Patti gone, a lot is being made of Boise State’s thin quarterback cupboard. If Jimmy Laughrea had stayed, could he have competed? Laughrea, a sophomore, left the Bronco program after spring football last year and transferred to UC Davis, where he was immediately eligible to play. He began the season as the Aggies’ starter but was relieved by Randy Wright in Week 5 against Idaho State and never threw another pass. Laughrea completed 54 percent of his passes for 592 yards and just one touchdown against four interceptions. He probably wasn’t destined to start in Boise.
Tony Paulino of DraftInsider.net is covering East-West Shrine Game practices and includes Boise State’s Charles Leno in his “Shrine Game winners” after Day 2 of practice. Writes Paulino: “Leno looked good in both one-on-one drills then took his game to another level in full scrimmage. The left tackle displayed terrific agility and footwork in pass protection as well as strength blocking for the running game. Being able to hold down the left tackle spot is a big bonus for the 6-foot-4 Leno, as many scouts thought he lacked the size to hold up at the position coming into the week. He was beaten a few times in one-on-one drills, however.” The game will be played Saturday in St. Petersburg, FL. Bronco teammates Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe and Matt Paradis are preparing for the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl Saturday in Carson, CA.
Usually the coaches who go into a season with high expectations are the veteran ones, the guys who have experienced rosters coming back. Wyoming’s Craig Bohl, however, will be right up there with any coach in the Mountain West this year. This despite the fact that Bohl has seen his incumbent quarterback, Brett Smith, declare early for the NFL Draft and another, Jason Thompson, transfer to Utah. Bohl was just named the American Football Coaches Association Coach of the Year at the FCS level after winning his third straight national championship at North Dakota State. He was as beloved in Fargo as Chris Petersen was in Boise. And the honeymoon is well underway in Laramie. Reportedly the Cowboys are throwing the kitchen sink into their football program, including facilities upgrades and a private plane for Bohl’s recruiting ventures.
Here’s a “not so fast my friend” from the NFL world of Kellen Moore. It turns out the reports that Philadelphia quarterbacks coach Bill Lazor was headed to the Lions as offensive coordinator were erroneous. He’s going to Miami instead. That leaves Moore still wondering who his new O-coordinator will be—and where he stands with the new Lions staff as he chases a third NFL season.
Former Bishop Kelly and Colorado quarterback Cody Hawkins has longed to follow his dad’s footsteps into coaching. Now he’ll finally get his career kick-started with a graduate assistant’s position under Urban Meyer at Ohio State. Nice launching pad. Hawkins will be working with the Buckeyes’ quarterbacks and wide receivers, including OSU star signal-caller Braxton Miller. While Dan Hawkins was coaching Boise State, Cody was on the sidelines soaking it all up. Then he played for dad with the Buffaloes. The younger Hawk got his feet wet assisting at BK in 2012.
The Idaho Steelheads had another big third period last night as they returned home and edged Utah, 2-1. With the Steelheads trailing 1-0 after two periods, two of the team’s most dependable scorers got it done in the third. Austin Fyten tied the game on a power play with 15½ minutes left in the game—then Austin Fyten rammed one home on a breakway three minutes later, providing the final margin. Goalie Pat Nagle had a big night between the pipes, stopping 39 of 40 Grizzlies shots. The Steelies’ penalty kill unit continued its cunning, polishing off all six of Utah’s power plays. Idaho is 33-of-36 on the penalty kill over the past eight games. The Steelheads and Grizzlies play again tomorrow night in CenturyLink Arena.
It’s a sure sign of spring—well, okay, it’s indoors. But the Boise State tennis team begins its season tonight against Montana State at the Boas Bubbles. The Broncos, two-time defending Mountain West champions, are led by No. 1 singles player Andy Bettles. The senior Englishman opens the campaign ranked 54th in the country after going 11-3 during the fall tournament schedule, including a 3-1 record against top 50 opponents. Oh, and Greg Patton begins his 18th season as head coach. BSU hosts Northwestern Saturday at the Boise Racquet & Swim Club.
This Day In Sports…January 16, 1972:
After years of frustration, the Dallas Cowboys win their first Super Bowl, crushing the Miami Dolphins, 24-3. MVP Roger Staubach completed 12 of 19 passes, and the Cowboys rushed for 252 yards—95 by a nearly-unstoppable Duane Thomas. Having ended every season since 1966 with a loss in the playoffs until falling in the Super Bowl the previous year, Dallas started the season badly but ended with 10 straight victories after coach Tom Landry settled on Staubach as his starting quarterback.
(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.)