Phil Steele’s Mountain Division snippets

So how solid a pick is Boise State atop the Mountain West in Phil Steele’s College Football Preview? Like a rock, if you consider that Steele is predicting a New Year’s Six Bowl for the Broncos. But here are some of his Mountain Division words of caution. Utah State Aggies: “They have lost their last eight games decided by seven points or less—that will have them under the radar.” Wyoming Cowboys: “They play at 7,220 feet above sea level and are 20-12 at home the last five years.” (One of those wins was an upset of you-know-who in 2016.) Air Force Falcons: “The only other year they missed a Bowl game (under Troy Calhoun) they bounced back with a 10-3 season.” New Mexico Lobos: “This should be a much improved team heading into the 2018 season.” (I’m not buying that last one.)

The latest College Football ramp-up list is this: “The most underrated player on each Top 25 team.” Jake Trotter picks running back Alexander Mattison for No. 21 Boise State. “Mattison has proved to be the perfect complement to quarterback Brett Rypien, with the ability to bury opposing defenses on his own,” writes Trotter. “Mattison rushed for 242 yards against Colorado State last year, the third-highest total in Boise State history. In Mattison and Rypien, the Broncos boast a dynamic backfield.” Fans can only hope Trotter is correct, because it was not consistently dynamic last season. But if he’s right, the Boise State offense should be something to behold.

There will be a 2018 edition of the Boise State football team’s Summer Classic Softball Game, set for Wednesday, July 18, at Memorial Stadium. The event has regained its status as a summer staple after being on hiatus in 2014-15. Gates open at 5 p.m., with the always-scintillating Home Run Derby starting at 5:30. After that, the offense and defense square off. Who’s going to be the Derby favorite? Last year, there was former San Diego Padres minor leaguer Mason Smith, who spent a short time as a Bronco safety. Two years ago, it was the Joey Martarano show.

At least four Mountain West players beyond Chandler Hutchison have signed summer deals with NBA clubs, all as undrafted free agents. Former UNLV center Brandon McCoy has been signed by the Milwaukee Bucks following his one-and-done season with the Rebels. McCoy was the Mountain West Freshman of the Year last season, averaging 16.9 points and 10.3 rebounds per game. He’s a 7-footer, but his playing style no longer really fits in the NBA. McCoy is slated to play in the Las Vegas Summer League July 6-17. Nevada’s Kendall Stephens will also be giving it a go in Vegas after signing to play with Orlando’s Summer League team. Stephens played one season with the Wolf Pack after transferring from Purdue.

Malik Pope out of San Diego State will join the L.A. Lakers’ Summer League squad. The Lakers were one of the teams that worked out Pope leading up to the draft. And former Colorado State star Gian Clavell will play for the Golden State Warriors’ Summer League team. The 2016-17 Mountain West Player of the Year appeared in seven games early last season for the Dallas Mavericks before spending the rest of the season in Turkey. Meanwhile, one of Idaho’s all-time greats, Victor Sanders, will get his NBA shot in the Las Vegas Summer League with the Denver Nuggets entry. Sanders led the Vandals with 19 points per game last season while picking up second-team All-Big Sky honors. He is the second-leading scorer in Idaho history with 1,804 points and is also second in career three-pointers with 272.

It would be interesting to follow Troy Merritt around the TPC Potomac course today in the first round of the Quicken Loans National. And not just because he’s back at the site of his one PGA Tour victory in 2015. Merritt tees off at 11:32 our time this morning—in the group behind Tiger Woods. Fans will pack themselves around the green when Tiger comes through, and then will no doubt scurry to the next teebox when Merritt and his playing partners approach. The former Boise State star will be trying to get back on track this week; he missed the cut for the first time since March last week at the Travelers Championship. How about this factoid: when Merritt won the Quicken Loans title three years ago, he was coming off five consecutive missed cuts.

The Boise Hawks’ four-game winning streak was snapped last night,as the Hillsboro Hops rode a hot start to a 7-2 victory at Memorial Stadium. The Hawks led 1-0 after a first inning solo home run by Cade Harris, but Hillsboro scored six times over the second, third and fourth innings. A look at the standings: Salem-Keizer, who swept the Hawks in their home-opening series last week, has a two-game lead over Boise and Hillsboro in the Northwest League South Division.

It was a banner season for the Boise State women’s softball team, but now the Broncos have to hit the reset button. Coach Cindy Ball, who guided the team to its first Mountain West championship and NCAA Tournament berth, is leaving to take the top post at Central Florida. Ball turned around the Boise State program during her four years at the helm, going 73-36 the past two seasons after a 26-80 mark her first two campaigns. She leaves a good nucleus in place, with a boost from Bradie Fillmore, the former Eagle High star and Idaho Gatorade Player of the Year who has transferred to Boise State from Cal.

This Day In Sports…June 28, 2003, 15 years ago today:

It’s the Subway Series in the Big Apple—literally. The New York Yankees and New York Mets play an unusual day-night doubleheader, with the first game at Yankee Stadium and the nightcap at Shea Stadium. The teams agreed to the unusual setup after a game between the two at Shea was rained out a week earlier. The Yanks won both contests, 7-1 in the Bronx and 9-8 in Queens. It was just the second two-park twin bill in modern major league history.

(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.)