Boise State and Utah State play their only game of the regular season Saturday afternoon in Taco Bell Arena, as this year’s Mountain West rotation skips the Broncos-Aggies game in Logan. So Tim Duryea, the former USU coach and now a Boise State assistant, does not have a Logan homecoming on the docket. Instead, he’s plotting in Boise this week to beat the guy who replaced him, new Utah State coach Craig Smith. It’s hard to argue that the Aggies haven’t gotten the desired result in Smith’s hire. He has taken a USU squad that went 17-17 in Duryea’s third and final season and has them in second place in the Mountain West at 11-3 (21-6 overall) following last night’s 71-55 win over New Mexico. Duryea would surely like to upset that apple cart, but it will not be easy.
Duryea and Smith have contrasting styles. Boise State coach Leon Rice enthusiastically added Duryea to the staff last spring to tap his offensive prowess. You can make the case for Duryea as an asset there, as the Broncos don’t feature a lot of elite scorers this season but are second in the Mountain West in shooting percentage at 47 percent. Duryea is a great X’s and O’s guys, and Boise State has been good at running his stuff. Smith, who came to Utah State after a successful four-season stint at South Dakota, likes a more free-wheeling style, and the Aggies have certainly adapted well.
AZTECS’ MASTERY OF THE PACK CONTINUES
Nevada’s NCAA Tournament seed surely sank a notch or three after the Wolf Pack laid an egg Wednesday night at San Diego State. The Aztecs took down the Wolf Pack 65-57 before the first sellout crowd of the season at Viejas Arena. The Pack’s inability to get over the hump against SDSU is baffling—it was Nevada’s third straight loss against the Aztecs and the eighth in the last 10 games. And San Diego State was in control in this one, leading by nine points at halftime and by 16 midway through the second half. The Wolf Pack, No. 6 in both polls, is the highest-ranked team the Aztecs have ever defeated (Gonzaga was No. 12 when it lost in Viejas last season).
HOPING THE BIG TUNA’S FORMULA IS RELEVANT
With Boise State’s Brett Rypien on the verge of his venture to Indianapolis for the NFL Combine, I wonder how Bill Parcells’ 1990’s list of seven rules for drafting a quarterback will apply with modern NFL thinking. In case you missed the story from TheDraftNetwork.com, here’s the criteria: Be a three-year starter, be a senior in college, graduate from college, start 30 games, win 23 games, post a 2-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio, and complete at least 60 percent of passes thrown. Out of this year’s crop of draft-eligible quarterbacks, only Rypien and his former teammate, North Carolina State’s Ryan Finley, checked every box. It counts for something, but the proof will be in the pudding at the Combine and at Pro Day next month.
STEELIES SET THE TONE EARLY
The tone was set less than 30 seconds into the game Wednesday night in CenturyLink Arena. A.J. White scored, and the Idaho Steelheads were rolling. Just over six minutes into the second period it was 4-0 after a tally by Reid Petryk, and the Steelheads cruised to a 5-2 victory over Tulsa. Tomas Sholl was solid between the pipes, clocking 38 saves to improve to 18-9-0 on the season. Utah didn’t play Wednesday, so the Steelies have moved back into first place with a one-point lead over the Grizzlies in the ECHL Mountain Division standings.
A SECOND WIND FOR OSICH
Bishop Kelly grad Josh Osich, one of only four native Boiseans ever to make the majors, probably needed a change of scenery, and he’s got it, as he’s been picked up by the Baltimore Orioles after being waived by the San Francisco Giants. Osich, who starred in college at Oregon State, was solid as a rookie in 2015, posting a 2.20 ERA for the Giants. But since then, Osich’s control has abandoned him, and his ERA has gone from 4.71 to 6.23 to an astronomical 8.25, and his career needs some resuscitation. He’s now 30, and he’ll still have to make the Orioles roster out of spring training.
THAT’S WHAT YOU’D CALL A ‘TEAM REBOUND’
After being swept on the road in the final weekend of the regular season at Southern Oregon and Oregon Tech, College of Idaho routed Warner Pacific 96-61 Wednesday night in Caldwell—the Coyotes’ largest margin of victory ever in a postseason game. Former Rocky Mountain High standout Nate Bruneel scored 22 points and drained six of the Yotes’ 16 three-pointers. With the Cascade Conference tournament quarterfinal win, C of I earns a spot in the semis Saturday night at the J.A. Albertson Activities Center. The Yotes face eighth-seeded Northwest University, who stunned No. 1 seed Oregon Tech Wednesday 78-75.
MARCH IS EIGHT DAYS AWAY
It’s time to start thinking about March Madness, NCAA Division II edition. It’s hard to ignore on the Northwest Nazarene campus. The NNU men, who play at Western Oregon tonight, are ranked No. 4 in the first NCAA West Region poll that decides which teams advance to the national tournament. The top five D-II teams who don’t win their conference tournament earn at large bids. The NNU women are No. 2 in the West Region and are home in Nampa tonight against Simon Fraser, the only team to beat the 23-1 Nighthawks this season.
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February 21, 2002: Dane Spencer finishes 16th in the giant slalom at Park City, wrapping up very respectable performances by three Boiseans at the 2002 Winter Olympics. Earlier in the Salt Lake Games, the late Jeret Peterson had placed ninth in the freestyle aerials, and snowboarder Lisa Kosglow had made it to the quarterfinals in the parallel giant slalom (the PGS). It was the first Olympiad for Spencer and Peterson, while Kosglow had also competed in the 1998 Winter Games at Nagano.
(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.)