BOISE, Idaho — Thursday, March 12, 2020.
Wednesday was historic. As in, infamously historic. First there was the declaration that the coronavirus had grown into a pandemic. Then Boise’s Treefort was postponed. The dominoes kept falling, right through the early afternoon announcement that the NCAA Tournament—men’s and women’s—will be played without fans in the stands. Then the NBA shockingly suspended its season six hours later. Everything’s happening so quickly right now. Skyview High grad Kyle Dranginis, who wrapped up his career at Gonzaga four years ago, had a spot-on tweet Wednesday afternoon: “March Sadness.”
WHO WOULD BID ON THE NIT?
Things are tricky for the NIT. By the time you read this, it may have been cancelled. Obviously there will be no fans at NIT games should they be played. But the NCAA Tournament knows years in advance where its sites will be. The NIT doesn’t even know a week out. I mean, who is going to want to host an NIT game? You bring a quality opponent to your arena knowing that there’ll be nobody in the stands, no concession revenue, no nothin’. Should Boise State be fortunate enough to get an NIT berth, the Broncos wouldn’t be a candidate to host anyway. As far as the bubble goes, it didn’t help the Broncos that regular-season champion Colgate was upset by Boston University in the Patriot League championship game Wednesday night. That means Colgate would swipe an NIT berth, if there is one.
GET YOUR HOOPS WHILE YOU CAN
Your last chance in the near future to attend a live event in a major sport may be the men’s and women’s Big Sky Tournaments at CenturyLink Arena. They were still on as of this morning. The first two men’s games were eventful on Wednesday. Idaho was within three points of upsetting Southern Utah in the final minute before falling 75-69. What a way to go out for Trevon Allen. The Vandals’ senior star scored 35 points. The second game saw Idaho State, the 11th seed in the tournament, build a 15-point halftime lead over Northern Arizona. The Bengals then held on to upend the Lumberjacks 64-62. The Bengals’ reward is a scheduled matchup with Montana in the late quarterfinal game tonight.
The local player in the Big Sky men’s spotlight now is former Borah star Ellis Magnuson of top-seeded Eastern Washington, which is slated to take on Sacramento State today in the quarterfinals. A year ago, Magnuson had just won a state 5A title with the Lions. Now he’s a candidate for conference Freshman of the Year. Magnuson has proven to be a master facilitator as a true freshman, averaging 4.2 assists per game to go with his 5.8 points. The coach in the spotlight is Jeff Linder of Northern Colorado, which is scheduled meet Southern Utah in the first game of the evening session. Linder was an assistant at Boise State during coach Leon Rice’s first six seasons. His Bears are the No. 2 seed in the tournament. Linder’s already being mentioned as a candidate for the vacant Wyoming job.
IDAHO WOMEN ARE ONE WIN AWAY
The Big Sky women’s championship game is set (if it happens), with Idaho facing Montana State Friday afternoon. The Vandals used a dominant fourth quarter to topple Idaho State in Wednesday night’s semifinals. Boise High grad Isabelle Hadden had a big game for U of I, scoring 12 points with five rebounds in just 15 minutes. Montana State got by Northern Arizona 76-71 in the other semi, helped by 19 points from former Mountain View star Darian White. MSU is coached by former Boise State star Tricia Bader Binford, who’s in her 15th season with the Bobcats. Binford, a BSU Athletic Hall of Famer, was a fan favorite from 1994-98 before going on to play four seasons in the WNBA.
COLLEGE OF IDAHO CLAMPS DOWN IN FIRST ROUND
The plan currently at the NAIA Division II Championships is to play the tournament without fans moving forward. There were fans in Sioux Falls, SD, Wednesday night, and College of Idaho wowed ‘em with a 67-49 first-round win over Northwestern of Iowa, holding the host school 35 points below its season scoring average. It was the Coyotes’ 31st win of the season, tying a school record. (If you’ve been following along, you know it was also the Yotes’ 25th victory in a row). Centennial grad Talon Pinckney led the way with 17 points. Assuming the event stays on track, C of I will face Indiana University-Kokomo on Friday.
HUTCH’S SEASON WASN’T MUCH
Games or no games, Chandler Hutchison wasn’t going to be on an NBA court the rest of this spring anyway. The former Boise State star has seen misfortune strike again. Hutchison’s season ended after the Chicago Bulls announced he’ll be undergoing arthroscopic surgery on the AC joint in his right shoulder next Tuesday. He originally suffered the injury against the Golden State Warriors on Thanksgiving weekend, missed 17 games, came back to play 18, and reinjured the shoulder a month ago. Hutchison hasn’t played since the All-Star break. Unfortunately, he has the “can’t stay healthy” tag on him. Hutchison’s uneven season covered just 28 games, with averages of 7.8 points and 3.9 rebounds.
CORD SHOULD COMMAND RESPECT
As Hank Bachmeier gets rep after rep while admirably acknowledging how far he still has to go as Boise State’s quarterback (and hopefully spring football continues now), colleague Chase Cord serves as support staff. Cord, now a junior, is missing his second consecutive spring as he recovers from shoulder, knee and ankle injuries. But he remains engaged, as always. “It’s kind of like last spring in just helping the QBs out any way I can,” said Cord. He also said he hasn’t given a thought to transferring. How impressive is that in a day and age when players seem to pull up stakes as soon as they’re not named starters? Cord cited his commitment and relationships with teammates and coaches. You’ve gotta root for the guy.
BRONCOS WITH ‘MO’ FOR THE ROAD
Boise State baseball’s first homestand in 40 years ended at 9-2 after a 12-9 victory over Niagara Wednesday night at Memorial Stadium. Michael Hicks carried one of many big sticks for Boise State, going 3-for-5 with two RBI, his sixth straight multi-hit game. As wild as this one was, the Broncos needed a live arm to close it out. Hunter Omlid obliged with a scoreless ninth to record his first save. Boise State takes a 9-5 overall mark to Utah Valley on Friday unless something happens to bump it in the next 24 hours.
THIS DAY IN SPORTS…March 12, 2010, 10 years ago today:
Less than 24 hours after a 24-point first-round loss to Utah State at the WAC Tournament, Boise State fires men’s basketball coach Greg Graham. Two years after winning the WAC championship, the Broncos finished the season 15-17, including an 0-7 start in conference and a record 24-point loss to Idaho on their home floor. But the primary issue was plummeting attendance, which dropped to 3,061 fans per game in the 2009-10 season, the fewest ever in Taco Bell Arena. Graham was 142-112 in his eight years at Boise State.
(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.)