Boise State basketball: First step in righting the ship

It’s hard to put too much stock into Boise State’s victory over a team that couldn’t get out of its own way Saturday. Injury-ravaged Wyoming turned the ball over 24 times, after all. But it was a 77-52 romp after three losses in a row, just what the Broncos needed. Some credit has to go to Boise State’s defensive effort for all those turnovers—and for the 14 points the Cowboys were held to in the first half. And the Broncos had something extra in this game they haven’t had in a long time: a productive RJ Williams. The junior college transfer from Los Angeles led the team with 18 points, going 7-for-8 from the field, making four steals, and turning the ball over not once. That last stat is big for Williams. Can he get back to such contributions against the better teams in the Mountain West?

The most talked-about Boise State stats going into the Wyoming game: the Broncos’ minus-19 margin on the boards at Air Force last Tuesday, and their woeful 14-for-67 performance from three-point range during their three-game losing streak. So how did that go? Boise State outrebounded the Cowboys by 12, and they went a modest 9-for-26 from beyond the arc. Modest is better than bad. Marcus Dickinson nailed four of the three-pointers, almost overshadowing the job he did defensively against Pokes star Justin James. Again. After holding the Mountain West’s leading scorer to a 1-for-14 night January 2 in Laramie, it was primarily Dickinson who had James going 2-for-17 Saturday. Do the math. That’s 3-for-31 in two games.


All the boxes that were checked last Wednesday for the Boise State women were unchecked Saturday in Laramie. No more 11-game winning streak nor 16-game run in the Mountain West after the Broncos lost 64-52 at Wyoming. Boise State shot just 37 percent from the field and went only 2-for-15 from three-point range, and nobody scored more than seven points. The Broncos were out of sorts as they dropped their first conference game of the season—and the first since February 3 of last year. Maybe this is a good thing for them in the long run.


The Pro Bowl was its usual wacky, unconventional (and sometimes unwatchable) self Sunday as the AFC beat the NFC 26-7 in rainy Orlando. Those who tuned in locally were locked in on former Boise State star Leighton Vander Esch, of course, and the Dallas linebacker led the NFC with seven tackles. Cowboys quarterbacks coach and potential offensive coordinator Kellen Moore was behind the NFC offense, which gained only 148 yards. But this was the Pro Bowl, where nobody really cares. Game plans are painfully simplified. Meanwhile, Ian Rapoport of tweeted Friday about the Cowboys’ coaching plan: “This is the expected scenario. Kellen Moore as OC, Jon Kitna as QB coach, TE coach Doug Nussmeier with more influence…and coach Jason Garrett not calling plays. The brass likes him overseeing.”


There are still nine days left until February signing day. What other nuggets might Boise State have in waiting? The Broncos appeared to address one of their key needs Saturday with a commitment from Gavin Wale, a kicker-punter from Coronado High in Henderson, NV. Wale is the cousin of Sean Wale, Boise State’s punter from 2013-16. The new Wale will compete with Joel Velazquez at both spots. Now, will Wale go right into the fire the way his cousin did in 2013? Sean made his collegiate debut as a true freshman in the Broncos’ 38-6 loss at Washington. Boise State opens the 2019 season against Florida State in Jacksonville on August 31.


It’s a nice—albeit expected—bonus for new Boise State defensive line coach Spencer Danielson. Bronco defensive lineman David Moa was granted a sixth year of eligibility Friday from the NCAA after missing virtually all of the 2018 season due to an injury. The 6-3, 275-pounder from San Diego played a couple of series at Oklahoma State last September and logged two tackles. Fittingly, one of them was for a two-yard loss. On Senior Night at the end of November this year, we’ll be able to look back and say Moa was once on the field in 2015 with the likes of Darian Thompson, Donte Deayon, Tyler Horn and Armand Nance. Moa’s going to be a graybeard.


On Friday night, Chandler Hutchison recorded his first NBA double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds in a Bulls loss to the Clippers. Incredibly, Hutchison apparently did it with a fractured toe suffered two nights earlier against Atlanta. Now, Chicago has announced the former Boise State star will be in a walking boot two to four weeks with “an acute injury to the sesamoid bone in his right foot.” The Bulls’ release said it happened Wednesday against the Hawks—before Hutchison played 41 minutes, including all of the fourth quarter, versus the Clippers. He’ll be re-examined after the All-Star Break. Hutchison has been steadily improving. In his last seven games, the Boise State product is averaging 9.3 points and 7.0 rebounds is shooting 51 percent from the field.


The Idaho Steelheads split their weekend series in Wichita and maintain a one-point lead atop the ECHL Mountain Division. The Thunder grabbed the first game on Saturday 3-2 and had a one-goal lead going into the third period Sunday. But Steve McParland tied it up with his second goal of the game a half-minute into the final frame, and Brad McClure followed with the ultimate game-winner 2½ minutes later. Goalie Ryan Faragher, who had relieved starter Collin Points in the third period, kept the Thunder at Bay the rest of the way and stopped all 10 shots he faced.


The junior year of Boise State All-American Allie Ostrander is rolling the way the first two did. Ostrander kicked off the weekend at the UW Invitational Friday by joining Alexis Fuller, MaLeigha Menegatti and Kristie Schoffield for a school record in the distance medley relay, breaking the old mark set last year at the NCAA Indoor Championships. Ostrander then ran the mile on Saturday and shattered the school record by seven seconds, running a 4:35.79. Also, the Boise State women’s gymnastics team beat Southern Utah Friday night, scoring a solid 196.625. The 10th-ranked Broncos are now 3-0. And Kristian Widen’s debut as Boise State men’s tennis coach was a successful one in a 7-0 blanking of Montana State Friday. The Broncos dropped a tense 4-3 decision to Gonzaga Sunday.

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January 28, 1990: The biggest blowout in Super Bowl history, as the San Francisco 49ers rout the Denver Broncos 55-10 in the 24th edition of the championship game. The title was the second straight for the 49ers and their fourth overall. Joe Montana called signals for all four, and he was at his best in this one, throwing five touchdown passes—three of them to Jerry Rice. For Denver quarterback John Elway, the wait continued. Elway would win the first of his two Super Bowl rings eight years later.

(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.)