You could have made a case for Boise State’s Derrick Alston and Utah State’s Neemias Queta, but ultimately it was San Diego State’s Matt Mitchell who was named Mountain West Player of the Year Tuesday. Mitchell didn’t quite have the numbers Alston and Queta did, but he was consistent in big games. The key: Mitchell’s team was the league’s regular-season champion and finished with a flurry. Queta earned Defensive Player of the Year honors, and Alston, the preseason MW Player of the Year, was first-team All-Mountain West. Here’s the case for Alston: he was second in the conference in scoring at 18.1 points per game and was top-four in the league in shooting, three-point and free throw percentage. He also led the Mountain West with 11 20-point games in conference play.
KIGAB: PROGNOSIS UNKNOWN
Twitter accounts of Boise State coach Leon Rice jousting with the media Tuesday on the condition of Abu Kigab were kind of humorous. Reporters kept pressing. The most they could get out of Rice is that Kigab is “day-to-day” after suffering a shoulder injury last week against Fresno State. He can’t play with one arm. There are 24 hours left until what could be a defining game for the Broncos program: the Mountain West Tournament quarterfinal against Nevada. Just so you know, Kigab was a mixed bag during the Wolf Pack’s sweep of Boise State a month ago, scoring 15 and five points in the two games. He was named second-team All-Mountain West Tuesday.
WOLF PACK WORKS ITS WAY BACK
Boise State has been through a lot since it was swept at Nevada a month ago. There was the high of the dramatic sweep of Utah State in ExtraMile Arena, and the low consisting of the Broncos’ current three-game losing streak. Nevada has had a different kind of challenge—a pause in play that took the Wolf Pack out of its rhythm. After beating the Broncos, the Pack saw four consecutive games wiped out due to COVID concerns. When they finally saw the floor again, they were on the short end of a sweep at Utah State. Then there was another cancellation at San Jose State last week before Nevada upended Colorado State 85-82 last Saturday. Coach Steve Alford says the Wolf Pack’s offense is basically back. But, he said, “Defensively we have a long way to go to get back to where we were against Boise.”
BAD TIME FOR AN ICE BUCKET
Well, that’s not exactly the way the Boise State women drew it up. The Broncos couldn’t hit the broad side of the Thomas & Mack barn in the Mountain West Tournament semifinals, and their season ended with a 53-38 loss to Wyoming. Boise State scored just 12 points in the first half, shooting 22 percent from the field, yet trailed the Cowgirls by only six points. But the Broncos couldn’t keep Wyoming in sight in the second half as the epic drought continued while the Cowgirls exploded for 25 third quarter points. Boise State did not hit a single three-pointer and was held under 40 points for the first time in 19 years. The Broncos’ 13-game MW Tournament winning streak thus ends. But, as young and talented as this team is, I’d expect another one to start next year.
KTVB’s Jay Tust posted his entire 50-minute interview with Chase Cord Tuesday. Combine that with Cord’s KTIK interview with Prater & The Ballgame, and here are some takeaways. The now-former Boise State quarterback is done playing football for now, but maybe not forever. My sense is that he’ll move on if he can’t physically return to his former athletic self relatively soon. “Right now I’m focusing on rehab and recovery,” said Cord. The most shocking revelation was that he took the field as the starter at BYU in 2019 with a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder. That explains a lot. Cord then added a broken hand while leading the Broncos to an overtime win against Wyoming the following week. Cord is moving back to Arizona after he graduates from Boise State in May. Boise would be a better place if he stayed here.
VANDALS GAME A COVID CASUALTY
There’s nothing official on why Idaho was missing eight starters last Saturday against UC Davis. But the dots are sure being connected. The Vandals’ game at Northern Arizona this Saturday has been postponed due to COVID protocols within the Idaho program. The Big Sky designed its condensed spring schedule to accommodate situations like this—every team participating has a bye week built into the middle of the slate on March 20, plus an extra open date on April 17. There’s already one makeup game scheduled on each of those two Saturdays. The schools and the Big Sky staff are currently determining when this one will be made up.
ISU, UI WOMEN INTO THE SEMIS
Idaho State and Idaho, the top two seeds, chalked it in the Big Sky Tournament women’s quarterfinals Tuesday in Idaho Central Arena. The Bengals beat Portland State 66-50 to move into the semis this evening against Northern Colorado. The Vandals toppled Northern Arizona 67-53, helped by 22 points from Bishop Kelly grad and All-Big Sky pick Gabi Harrington. Idaho has a tough draw against Montana State in the semifinals. The Bobcats are coached by Boise State Athletic Hall of Famer Tricia Bader Binford. And they’re led on-court by former Mountain View star Darian White, who was just named All-Big Sky as a sophomore. The Big Sky men’s tournament begins today with three first-round games. No. 11 seed Idaho takes on No. 6 Montana this afternoon for a spot in the quarterfinals on Thursday.
This Day In Sports…brought to you by ZAMZOWS…Nobody Knows Like Zamzows!
March 10, 1991, 30 years ago today: Eddie Sutton becomes the first coach ever to take four different schools to the NCAA Tournament when Oklahoma State is named to the field of 64. Sutton had previously guided Creighton, Kentucky and Arkansas into the Big Dance. He got his coaching start in Twin Falls, where he founded the College of Southern Idaho basketball program in 1966 and coached there for three seasons. Sutton finished his career in 2008 at the University of San Francisco. He was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame just before his death last year.
(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.)