Broncos hoops: Free throws come at a cost

Boise State started the Saint Louis game a lot differently Tuesday night than the forgettable one last Friday, scoring the first 11 points in ExtraMile Arena. Then the free throw line started to take its toll, and it continued all the way into overtime in an 86-82 loss to the Billikens. After the Broncos’ hot start, Saint Louis caught the Broncos with just over seven minutes left in the first half. It see-sawed from there, with 12 ties and 17 lead changes. The Billikens never led by more than four points. But the Broncos left 14 points at the charity stripe, going a woeful 12-for-26, while Saint Louis hit 30 of its 34 free throws. Abu Kigab was exhibit No. 1. Kigab was on fire from the field and on the boards, scoring a game-high 27 points with eight rebounds, but he was 5-for-11 on freebies.


Boise State had only three players named first-team All-Mountain West on Tuesday—and for the first time in 29 years, there were no first-team all-conference picks on defense. On offense, Broncos wide receiver Khalil Shakir got his much-deserved spot after 71 catches, 1,043 yards and six touchdowns this season. John Ojukwu, the Boise High grad, joined Shakir at his left tackle spot. On special teams, Jonah Dalmas was named All-Mountain West placekicker after setting the Boise State single-season record for field goals with 26. On ghe second team were offensive linemen Jake Stetz and Ben Dooley, along with defensive tackle Scott Matlock, safety JL Skinner and punt returner Stefan Cobbs.

There’s one slice of irony in all this. The Boise State offensive line has never been maligned as much as this season, yet 60 percent of it was on the All-Mountain West first or second team. Looking at it mathematically, let’s say there are 60 starting offensive linemen in the Mountain West. Boise State had three of the top 10. Then again, it takes five for an O-line to tango.


The Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year is Nevada quarterback Carson Strong, the first back-to-back winner of the award since San Diego State’s Donnel Pumphrey in 2015-16. The Defensive Player of the Year is Aztecs defensive lineman Cameron Thomas, a three-time first-team All-MW pick who leads the conference in sacks with 11.5. No surprise on special teams, as SDSU punter/placekicker Matt Araiza gets the nod. Araiza is on pace to set a new NCAA record for punting average—he’s currently at 51.8 yards per boot. And the Coach of the Year is San Diego State’s Brady Hoke. His 19th-ranked Aztecs haven’t been consistently great this year, but they’ve been consistently very good.


Boise State athletic director Jeramiah Dickey was a guest Tuesday on Idaho SportsTalk, and to call the interview wide-ranging would be an understatement. But let’s zero in on the football season. You know how important attendance is to Dickey, and rightfully so. He pounded home the “six games, six sellouts” theme, and that went as well as could be expected—until the New Mexico game. While Dickey saluted the fans who came out at the time, he pointed out something Tuesday in relation to the crowd of 28,542. “We had recruits there,” said Dickey. “That’s something that matters. I get that it was cold. Having butts in the seats matters.” That’s as close as the relentlessly positive Dickey came to complaining. “In no way should anyone take that as I’m disappointed,” he added.

If athletics are the front porch to a university, attendance is the first impression. That’s why Dickey promises to work non-stop on the fan experience. “We want Albertsons Stadium to be the most difficult place to play in the country,” he said. “I want 36,500 people in the stands.” He now has a unit of the athletic department dedicated to ticket sales, and it’s just getting started. “We just got our sales team in place in November,” Dickey said.


When quarterback Jake Haener left Washington during fall camp in 2019 and Fresno State landed him, it was a great get for the Bulldogs. That was certified when Haener threw for 5,831 yards and 46 touchdowns in just 18 games. Now Haener is back in the transfer portal, and it’s likely he’ll head back to Seattle, considering his coach, Kalen DeBoer, is now leading the Huskies. If it plays out that way, Haener will be looking at a UW roster that includes QBs Dylan Morris and Sam Huard. With his experience and savvy, Haener would have to be the favorite. This leaves Fresno State in need of a starter for its bowl game. Haener’s backups have thrown 21 career passes between them.


The NBA’s biggest game of the season so far was Tuesday night’s Golden State-Phoenix showdown, won 104-96 by the Suns. Both the Warriors and Phoenix are now 18-3. But Chandler Hutchison was nowhere to be found for the Suns. We’re hoping this isn’t a “writing is on the wall” season for the Boise State product, but he has played in only three of the Suns’ 21 games, getting just nine minutes total and scoring exactly one basket. The road from Chicago, where Hutchison was drafted in the first round in 2018, has taken him through Washington and San Antonio—and on to one of the best teams in the league in Phoenix. That’s one of the reasons he is buried on the bench, but this does not bode well for him.

This Day In Sports…brought to you by PEASLEY TRANSFER & STORAGE…a tradition you can trust!

December 1, 2011, 10 years ago today: Boise State introduces Mark Coyle as its new athletic director, replacing longtime AD Gene Bleymaier, who was fired in August of that year after almost 30 years at the helm. With BSU’s plans for a massive expansion of Bronco Stadium already drawn up, Coyle came in with the expressed goals of ramping up the Broncos’ fundraising effort—and keeping coach Chris Petersen in place. He did keep Pete, for two years anyway. Coyle would be at Boise State for 3½ years before departing for Syracuse. He’s now the AD at Minnesota.

(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.)

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