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Boise State basketball: Beware of ‘perceptionitis’

San Jose State is more often than not stuck in the Mountain West basement. But they climbed out in football last fall, and hoops has followed suit.
Credit: Rick Scuteri
San Jose State's Seneca Knight shoots over Arizona's Dylan Smith and Zeke Nnaji during an NCAA game Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019, in Tucson, Ariz.

BOISE, Idaho — Wednesday, January 29, 2020. 

Remember when Boise State football coach Bryan Harsin invented the word “perceptionitis” as a warning with New Mexico coming to town in November?  The Lobos ended up not being a threat, as the Broncos won 42-9.  But “perceptionitis” might be appropriate tonight with San Jose State hoops coming to ExtraMile Arena.  The Spartans are always considered the weak link in the Mountain West’s money sports, but this season they’re following football’s blueprint and showing great improvement.  SJSU is 7-14 overall and 3-6 in conference play—last year the records were 4-27 and 1-17.  The Spartans lost by two points at undefeated San Diego State in December, then beat New Mexico and Nevada at home, and are coming off a homecourt victory over Air Force.  Boise State hasn’t beaten any of those teams. 

PUTTING UP – AND PREVENTING – POINTS 

Boise State has had multiple scorers step up on various nights lately.  If it’s not Derrick Alston and Justinian Jessup, it could be Abu Kigab or R.J. Williams, or now even RayJ Dennis.  Alston, who had been a regular 20-point scorer until Christmas, has hit that mark just once in the past eight games.  But his teammates have picked him up.  For San Jose State, it’s been all about Seneca Knight, the only Spartan scoring in double-figures at 14.7 points per game.  Knight’s a 6-6 sophomore guard.  I can see Jessup and Marcus Dickinson making him earn his points.  If the Broncos can replicate the defense they played at Fresno State tonight, they’ll be alright. 

PIVOTAL NIGHT FOR THE BRONCO WOMEN 

There should be no perceptionitis issues with San Jose State on the women’s side.  Boise State visits the Spartans tonight in what should be an empty Event Center.  It would seem like a recipe for a trap game, but it’s not even that.  It’s a supreme challenge for the Broncos, who are looking up at SJSU in the Mountain West standings and need a victory to soothe the sting of last Saturday’s 85-80 loss to Fresno State.  The Spartans are—brace yourself—8-1 in conference play, just one game behind the Bulldogs.  Boise State has won nine games in a row over San Jose State, averaging 86 points per game.  Uh, that’s the exact number the Broncos needed four days ago.

SIGNING DAY CLOSING IN 

With the traditional National Letter of Intent Day coming up next Wednesday, Boise State has handed out a flurry of offers to Class of 2020 recruits the past week, and one of them became a commit on Tuesday.  Jonathan Earl, listed as a cornerback, is 6-3, 195 pounds.  That’s a tall drink of water for a corner.  Earl is a junior college transfer from Golden West College and will have three years to play two.  He visited Boise last weekend.  Earl made 43 tackles last season, 4.5 for loss, with two interceptions and a forced fumble.  The Broncos currently have three commits in addition to the 15 they inked during the early signing period in December. 

Boise State didn’t have a four-star recruit in the 2020 class—until Tuesday.  December signee Semaj Verner has been awarded a fourth star by 247 Sports, according to recruiting analyst Greg Biggins.  Verner is a 6-2, 185-pound safety out of Mayfair High in Lakewood, CA.  He was the 2019 Suburban Player of the Year and chose the Broncos over offers from Colorado, Arizona State, BYU and Colorado State. 

TWO BRONCOS AND A VANDAL IN THE XFL 

The second incarnation of the XFL kicks off a week from Saturday, and opening day rosters have been finalized.  Boise State is represented by defensive end Durrant Miles and kicker Tyler Rausa.  Miles stuck with the Seattle Dragons.  He had a strong finish to the 2018 season and an eye-opening performance at the Broncos’ Pro Day last spring, parlaying that into a training camp spot with the Atlanta Falcons.  Former Boise State kicker Tyler Rausa is a previously-announced member of the DC Defenders, and former Idaho Vandal Austin Rehkow will do the punting for the Houston Roughnecks.  Rehkow had a 2017 training camp stint with the Buffalo Bills. 

STEELHEADS TAKE A BREATH 

No Wednesday game this week for the Idaho Steelheads after their three-game road swing last weekend.  When they get back on the ice against Rapid City Friday night in CenturyLink Arena, there’ll be a new face at forward.  The Steelheads have acquired Jonathan Charbonneau from the Toledo Walleye in exchange for defenseman Nolan Glucchowski.  This is Charbonneau’s third ECHL stop this season—he previously played for the South Carolina Stingrays.

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO PARIS AUSTIN? 

When Chandler Hutchison was a junior at Boise State, Paris Austin was a sophomore.  And it looked like Austin was on his way up—and would have paired nicely with Hutchison the following season.  But for whatever reason, Austin needed to be closer to his home in Oakland, and he transferred to Cal.  He redshirted two years ago, and has been the Bears’ primary starter at point guard since.  Last season Austin averaged 11.6 points per game, but Cal went 8-23.  This year they’re within a game of .500 at 9-10 after a day Austin won’t soon forget.   He was fouled with 3.2 seconds left in the game and made both free throws to give the Bears a 52-50 win over bitter rival Stanford on Sunday. 

THIS DAY IN SPORTS…January 29, 1995, 25 years ago today: 

San Francisco becomes the first NFL franchise to win five Super Bowls, beating San Diego 49-26 in Miami.  49ers quarterback Steve Young, getting out from under the long shadow of Joe Montana, tied a Super Bowl record with six touchdown passes, three of them to Jerry Rice.  Running back Ricky Watters caught two more of Young’s TD throws and added a rushing touchdown in the Niners’ romp.  It remains the Chargers’ only trip to the Super Bowl. 

(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.)