It’s official now: Boise State’s best win of 2017-18 was over Loyola-Chicago. Back on November 28, the Broncos took the Ramblers apart 87-53 in Taco Bell Arena. Loyola came into the game undefeated, but we all wondered about their strength-of-schedule. Well, the Ramblers have lost only four games since (they’re 30-5) as they go into the Sweet 16 against Nevada Thursday night in Atlanta. Boise State must have caught ‘em on a bad night. But consider this: Chandler Hutchison scored only two points. Again, on an 87-point night. It was Hutchison’s first game back from the concussion he suffered in the Puerto Rico Tipoff against Iowa State. His teammates got the Broncos out to an 11-0 lead to start the game, though, and nailed 16 three-pointers. Turns out it was their best performance of the season.
It’s sure to be noted going into the Sweet 16 this week that the only common opponent between Loyola-Chicago and Nevada this season has been Boise State. The Ramblers lost to the Broncos by 34 points, while the Wolf Pack swept their Mountain West rivals by six and five points. But it would be crazy to say Loyola is the same team it was five days after Thanksgiving. The following week, the Ramblers went down to Gainesville and beat Florida 65-59, and they haven’t lost since the end of January.
Maybe the Ramblers would have fared better in Taco Bell Arena had Sister Jean Dolores-Schmidt come with them. Sister Jean, the nun who serves as Loyola’s 98-year-old team chaplain, has gained famed the past week as the school’s secret weapon. “In the middle of her prayer there’s a scouting report mixed in,” said the Ramblers’ leading scorer, Clayton Custer. “She tells us who their best players are and what to watch out for. Sometimes she’ll pray for the referee to make the right calls.” Custer, who hit the game-winning jumper to upset Tennessee Saturday, scored 12 points for Loyola against the Broncos.
With Becky Hammon having withdrawn her name from consideration for the Colorado State men’s basketball head coaching job over the weekend, attention has turned to recently-fired Georgia coach Mark Fox. Hammon, who did talk to CSU and would have made history had she taken the job, decided to remain on Gregg Popovich’s staff with the San Antonio Spurs. She was a legit candidate, with four years of experience on the Spurs bench after a successful playing career in the WNBA. Hammons led San Antonio’s entry in the Las Vegas Summer League to a championship in 2015. She was a three-time All-American with the Rams. Fox, the one-time Nevada coach, was cut loose by UGA after going 163-133 in nine seasons.
The first player Boise State coach Bryan Harsin identified yesterday in spring football press conference No. 2 was a tight end. “Matt Pistone has been making plays out there,” Harsin said after the Broncos’ morning practice. It’s no secret that tight end is a focal point this spring with Jake Roh and Alec Dhaenens having graduated. Pistone got significant time last year at fullback, a position all Boise State tight ends are trained to play. Now his horizons have broadened. “Because of our numbers, Pistone is split out and doing more things,” said Harsin. “He’s running verticals. The 6-3, 256-pound junior from Yuma, AZ, is still looking for his first career reception.
Harsin also noted, “Daniel Cantrell is playing some fullback for us.” Cantrell was a walk-on long-snapper from Bishop Kelly—until he was named Offensive Scout Team Player of the Year in December. The 6-0, 219-pounder moved to offense during the fall and wowed coaches as a fullback and tight end. It would be quite a story if Cantrell earns playing time there. He can still long-snap if necessary; the only long-snapper listed on the roster is junior Nicholai Pitman, the son of Boise State strength and conditioning coach Jeff Pitman.
It didn’t take Orlando Scandrick long to find a free agent deal. A couple days after being granted his release by Dallas, Scandrick bolted to Washington, a divisional rival. Sources say the 31-year-old former Boise State star has agreed to a two-year, $10 million deal. That’ll light a fire under the Cowboys—but the Redskins are hoping it lights a fire to inspire them to become NFC East contenders again. Washington has traded away its rising star at cornerback, Kendall Fuller, to Kansas City in order to bring aboard quarterback Alex Smith and needs Scandrick’s veteran leadership.
Former Bronco Shea McClellin, who said in an Idaho SportsTalk interview during Super Bowl week that he wasn’t sure what his football future would be, has been released by the New England Patriots. According to ESPN’s Field Yates, it’s due to a “failed physical designation.” The Marsing High grad and former first-round NFL Draft pick missed the 2017 season because of a reported concussion. McClellin had been one of the Pats’ “designated-to-return” players on injured reserve, but he could not get back on the field in late October. One source told the Boston Herald that McClellin wants to play in 2018, but it would be nice to hear that from him.
College of Idaho got over the hump last year, going 6-5 to record its first winning season since football was revived in 2014—and its first overall since 1969. So hopes are high for 2018, and the Coyotes have unveiled their 11-game schedule. The Yotes, who ended last season with a three-game winning streak, begin the season against the three Frontier Conference schools they’re tabbed to play twice this year, Eastern Oregon, Montana Tech and Southern Oregon. The lone non-conference game sends C of I into the FCS ranks again with a contest at Portland State of the Big Sky on September 15. The Yotes played a Division I team for the first time ever last year, falling at Northern Colorado 41-14. Spring football starts next week on the Caldwell campus.
This Day In Sports…March 20, 2013, five years ago today:
Boise State plays in the NCAA Tournament as an at-large selection for the first time in its history as part of the First Four in Dayton, facing fellow No. 13 seed LaSalle. The Broncos ran into a buzzsaw of quickness, as the Explorers shot 63 percent from the field to advance with an 80-71 victory. Boise State whittled a 14-point deficit to six with two minutes left but could get no closer. Anthony Drmic poured in 28 points to finish his sophomore season as the Broncos’ leading scorer at 17.7 points per game.
(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.)