A coach’s first year in a program can produce some wild swings, and Niko Medved has experienced that at Colorado State, the team Boise State visits tonight in Mountain West play. The Rams were in disarray one year ago as they were getting ready to part ways with the irascible Larry Eustachy and went back to square one to try to get their program back on track. Medved, who left Drake after one season, has a track record of building programs. He got the Bulldogs to 17-17 last season and notched a winning record in conference for the first time in 10 years after the program had suffered three straight 20-loss campaigns. The biggest moving of the needle so far has been a 74-65 upset of another Bulldogs squad, that of Fresno State Saturday in Moby Arena. Quite a rebound from a 100-60 loss at Nevada three days earlier.
There isn’t much left at Colorado State from the Eustachy days, but Nico Carvacho is still there, and he’s thriving in the other Niko’s system. Get this—Carvacho is the nation’s leading rebounder, averaging 12.5 per game. The 6-11 junior is also CSU’s leading scorer at 15.4 points per game and will be a handful inside for Boise State’s David Wacker and Zach Haney. Wacker got his first start of the season Saturday against Wyoming, scoring seven points and pulling down seven rebounds and is playing with as much confidence as at any time in his career. Can he hang with Nico? Two other CSU holdovers are also familiar: Jeremiah Paige is averaging 15.3 points and Anthony Bonner 12.2.
What are the expectations for either team tonight? Colorado State is 8-12, but The Coloradoan, Fort Collins’ newspaper, has the Rams at No. 5 in its Mountain West power rankings and Boise State all the way down at No. 9. CSU has won all of its home games and lost all of its road matchups, but the away games were at UNLV, Fresno State, Utah State and Nevada. Writes Kevin Lytle: “The Rams are in a long stretch of winnable games where they can prove if they belong in the top half of the league. Tuesday’s home game against Boise State is a good test to see if the Rams can take care of business in a game many will expect them to win.” The Broncos are 9-11—they lost by one to Nevada four days before the Rams were routed by 40 by the Wolf Pack in Reno.
RYPIEN’S IMMEDIATE FUTURE
Brett Rypien said last week on Idaho SportsTalk he expects to know by today whether he gets an invite to the NFL Combine later this month. If it doesn’t materialize, Rypien’s focus will be on Boise State’s Pro Day in March. Greg Auman of The Athletic notes, “Rypien has been training at Pro Active Fitness in Santa Ana, working with a group that includes other top quarterbacks such as West Virginia’s Will Grier, UCLA’s Wilton Speight and Washington’s Jake Browning. One of Rypien’s goals between now and his pro day is to get physically stronger and bigger—he was under 200 pounds at the end of the season and would like to get up to 210.” And Auman advances this theory: “Rypien’s father was born in Canada, so if the NFL doesn’t work out, he is on the B.C. Lions’ negotiation list should he decide to play in the CFL.”
THE DUELING NAWAHINES WON’T OVERLAP
There’s a second Nawahine slated to play college football in the Treasure Valley, as Kaimana Nawahine tweeted his commitment to College of Idaho Monday. Kaimana, a 6-1 defensive back, starred at Rocky Mountain High, just like his older brother. Kekoa is entering his senior year as a safety for Boise State. But there won’t be two Nawahines to follow this fall. Kaimana is planning to take an LDS mission before starting life as a Coyote. Kekoa did the same thing, committing to coach Chris Petersen in 2013 and officially becoming a Bronco after returning from his mission in 2015.
MOUNTAIN WEST FOOTBALL MOVES
Recent Mountain West football developments include a quarterback battle brewing at San Diego State. The Aztecs have a commitment from junior college transfer Jordon Brookshire, a 6-3, 210-pounder from Santa Rosa. Brookshire led Oakland’s Laney College to a state JC championship last month. Christian Chapman is gone from the Aztecs now, but the guy who led the team for seven games while Chapman was injured last year (including a 19-13 win at Boise State) isn’t an automatic. Ryan Agnew will have to compete with Brookshire and a couple other QBs as SDSU plans to switch to a spread offense. And the coaching churn includes two key positions at Mountain West champion Fresno State, as offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer heads for Indiana and defensive line coach Jamar Cain leaves for Arizona State.
TWISTS AND TURNS IN THE WOEFUL WEST
Nevada hoops dropped one spot to No. 8 in the AP Poll Monday and stayed at No. 7 in the Coaches Poll. That’s good for the conference. It’s just a horrific season for college basketball in the West, though. The only team in the Top 25 other than Nevada is Gonzaga at No. 4 in both polls. And the only other Western program so much as receiving votes in the rankings is Washington. The Pac-12 is in a tailspin. Can’t wait to see the seedings in the NCAA Tournament. Heck, will anybody beyond those three teams even make it? The Wolf Pack, by the way, goes for its 20th win of the season tonight against rival UNLV at the Thomas & Mack Center.
Some weekend catchup: The Northwest Nazarene men now have sole possession of second place in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference after a 78-70 win over defending GNAC champion Western Oregon in Nampa Saturday night. And the NNU women’s incredible 17-0 run to start the season came to a halt Saturday with a 76-73 loss at Simon Fraser. The Nighthawks had been ranked No. 1 in NCAA Division II by D2SIDA. The Boise State women, as expected, disappeared from the “others receiving votes” list in the AP Poll after having their 11-game winning streak snapped Saturday.
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January 29, 1974: History would prove the Pittsburgh Steelers to be brilliant with their picks in the NFL Draft. The Steelers’ first four choices were wide receiver Lynn Swann, linebacker Jack Lambert, wide receiver John Stallworth, and center Mike Webster. They would become key components of the Pittsburgh dynasty that would win four of the next six Super Bowls. All four were eventually voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
(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.)