Preseason props from here and there

NFL Network is counting down the Top 100 players in the NFL, and last night they reached No. 33. NFL Network is counting down the Top 100 players in the NFL, and last night they reached No. 33. It happened to be Doug Martin, the former Boise State running back who now stars for Tampa Bay. The nod tells you that analysts think the Doug Martin you saw last year was the real one, the guy who—after two injury-ravaged seasons—was second in the NFL to Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson with 1,402 rushing yards. Despite his injury setbacks, Martin is currently the Buccaneers’ all-time leader in rushing yards per game with 77. The video profile on Martin talks a lot about the nickname he despises from his Bronco days, “Muscle Hamster.” Colts punter Pat McAfee is all about the moniker. Says McAfee: “He just has to get through his ‘Muscle Hamster’ phase and get to his next phase, which is ‘Legend.’”

Phil Steele has released his preseason All-Mountain West picks, and Boise State and San Diego State lead the way with five first-teamers apiece. On offense there’s quarterback Brett Rypien, running back Jeremy McNichols and wide receiver Thomas Sperbeck. On defense, linebacker Joey Martarano gets a spot, and kicker Tyler Rausa rounds out the Bronco selections. Martarano’s pick is interesting. The former Fruitland Grizzly didn’t even start last year, but he’s been a dependable playmaker over his first two seasons. Martarano was sixth on the team in tackles with 53 last year. He also had a one-handed interception at San Jose State.

The Mountain West Championship Game has been able to retain its time slot on Saturday, December 3. The title tilt will be televised on ESPN or ESPN2 at 5:30 or 5:45 p.m. Mountain time. The game had a 5:30 kickoff last year when San Diego State beat Air Force 27-24 at Qualcomm Stadium. It’s the best the Mountain West can hope for. Boise State’s 28-14 championship win over Fresno State in 2014 was shown nationally on CBS, but the game started at 8:10 p.m. on a 42-degree December night.

Boise State men’s basketball is back in the foreign tour business for the first time in nine years, heading for Costa Rica August 11-16. The timing couldn’t be better, as the Broncos seek to replace departed seniors Anthony Drmic, Mikey Thompson, Montigo Alford and Lonnie Jackson—and, of course, James Webb III, an early entrant into the NBA Draft pool. The latest incarnation of the BSU squad needs experience and will get it through games against Costa Rican and Canadian teams. NCAA rules allow teams to take a foreign tour once every four years. Just as important as the trip itself are the 10 practices allowed in advance of the tour.

The Costa Rica venture is also a big deal for Leon Rice’s coaching staff, which includes two new assistants and a new director of basketball operations. “There is so much value in a foreign tour,” said Rice. “This will be a great way for all of our new players and staff to get acclimated to each other. That’s truly the benefit of a foreign trip.” Boise State enters the 2016-17 campaign with one returning starter (Nick Duncan), five newcomers, and three players who redshirted last season. The Broncos’ last foreign tour was in 2007 to Canada.

Webb has has his own tour going, and it’s an intense one. He has worked out for a slew of NBA teams, and yesterday the Utah Jazz took a look at the athletic 6-9 forward. According to the fan website, draft prospects on hand for Wednesday’s workouts also included Stanford’s Rosco Allen, Josh Gray of LSU, Brannen Greene from Kansas, Louisville’s Trey Lewis, and Tanner Plomb from Army West Point. “Of the six, Webb and Greene appear to have the best chance of being drafted,” the site said.

Boise Hawks manager Andy Gonzalez makes his debut as a skipper when the club opens the 2016 season tomorrow night on the road against the Eugene Emeralds. Hope springs eternal (it is still spring, after all), and Gonzalez likes Boise’s pitchers. Yesterday on KTIK’s Bob & Chris Show, Gonzalez mentioned Julian Fernandez in particular. Fernandez, a 20-year-old righthander from the Dominican Republic, has a fastball in the “98 to 102 mile-per-hour range” according to Gonzalez. “Our pitching staff’s going to be great,” said Gonzalez, a 34-year-old Puerto Rican who played 91 major league games from 2007-09 with the White Sox, Indians and Marlins, batting .182 with three home runs and 13 RBIs.

The Idaho Steelheads had a big announcement yesterday. I thought for a moment the Steelheads might be moving their NHL affiliation to the league’s new Las Vegas franchise in 2017. But alas, the Steelies have extended their agreement with the Dallas Stars through the end of the 2017-18 season. The clubs have been affiliated continuously for the last 11 years. Eight former Idaho players have seen the relationship pay off with ice time in Dallas: goalies Richard Bachman, Matt Climie and Dan Ellis, and forwards BJ Crombeen, Aaron Gagnon, Gavin Morgan, Tom Wandell, and Francis Wathier.

North Fork Championship V, the extreme kayak racing event, unfolds beginning today on the whitewater of the Payette River north of Banks. The Expert Division competes this morning at 11 a.m., with the race beginning at the top of Juicer Rapid and ending at the bottom of Crunch Rapid. The BoaterX event tomorrow is a wild one. Heats of six paddlers at a time will take off through S-Turn Rapid—two paddlers from each heat will advance to the final. Saturday afternoon the Elite Race commences, with some world-class kayakers launching off the Red Bull Ramp into Jacob’s Ladder and Golf Course Rapids to compete for the title of King of the North Fork Championship.

This Day In Sports…June 16, 2008:

Tiger Woods, in obvious pain from a knee injury, has to go one extra round—and one more hole beyond that—to win a riveting U.S. Open over Rocco Mediate. Tiger sank a dramatic 12-foot putt on the 72nd hole to force an 18-hole playoff, then needed a birdie to force sudden death after Monday’s round. Woods parred the first extra hole to win his 14th major championship. Two days later, he announced he was having knee surgery and would miss the remainder of the 2008 season. Tiger has not won a major since.

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment Sunday nights at 10:30PM on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 The Ticket. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)