A little boost from beet juice

Leon Rice has said all season his team has enough depth that you never know who’s going to rise up when. Monday, January 25, 2016.

Boise State coach Leon Rice has said all season his team has enough depth that you never know who’s going to rise up when. He’s right. Lonnie Jackson, the graduate transfer from Boston College, busted out with 21 points on seven three-pointers Saturday to lead the Broncos to an 81-71 win at Wyoming. Jackson had played only 26 minutes combined the previous three games and had gone scoreless in each of them. He logged just four against San Diego State. Then Jackson played 35 minutes at 7,220 feet. “Yeah, I felt it,” Jackson said of Laramie’s legendary altitude on the Learfield postgame show. “We actually took some beet juice before the game, and it worked,” said Jackson. “It was running through my veins.” And the taste? “It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be,” Jackson said. The hoopsters’ answer to Jay Ajayi’s pickle juice.

There were idiosyncrasies in the box score in this one. Wyoming outshot Boise State 52 percent to 47 and out-rebounded the Broncos 32-26. But Boise State was poised and pesky in this road test, committing only five turnovers for the game (and just one in the first half). “That’s a dialed-in team,” said Rice. The Broncos also forced 14 Cowboys turnovers and scored 14 points off them. The other difference-maker was the free throw line, as it often is for this squad. BSU was 20-for-27 from the charity stripe (the Broncos did make it interesting, with three of their seven misses coming consecutively in a 10-second span with just under five minutes left). The Pokes were just 11-for-17 from the line.

Wyoming’s Jason McManamen did his best Josh Adams impression, leading all scorers with 25 points. Adams, of course, missed the game after his Mountain West suspension for sportsmanship violations. The conference’s leading scorer looked on from the bench as his young teammates played energized basketball. “Without one guy, you can (still) regroup the troops—and win games,” Rice noted. As for the Broncos, they were able to score 81 points on the road on an off-day from James Webb III. He scored only nine points with seven rebounds, as the Cowboys often assigned two (and sometimes three) guys to stop him. But hey, Webb did score the first point of the second half on a free throw, and that gave Boise State a lead it would not relinquish.

Recruiting is a wild ride right now for Boise State football. This weekend in itself was a rollercoaster. First, the Broncos got a commitment from quarterback Jake Constantine of Camarillo, CA, to fill the spot left open by the departure of Micah Wilson to Missouri. Then, fears that Damarea Crockett of Little Rock, AR, would decommit from Boise State were realized when the four-star running back also flipped to Mizzou. Fans will try to forget Crockett’s tweet after offensive coordinator Eli Drinkwitz left: “Aye Dreamteam16 tell em we’re all here to stay baby.” That has been made easier by a new commitment yesterday from running back Alexander Mattison of San Bernardino, CA, who’s rated close to Crockett by major recruiting services (and even higher in one of them).

Boise State’s Marcus Henry got a lot of stage time Saturday while Oregon quarterback Vernon Adams was running wild in the East-West Shrine Game. Now Henry waits to see if he did enough to get that cherished invite to the NFL Combine. Fellow former Bronco Donte Deayon’s only stat in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl was one punt return for five yards. But Deayon was included on a graphic during the ESPN2 telecast showing four players whose stock rose the most during meetings and practices last week in front of NFL scouts and player personnel people.

Former Idaho standout Shiloh Keo had the final highlight of yesterday’s AFC Championship Game, recovering New England’s desperation onside kick with 11 seconds left to seal Denver’s 20-18 win and a trip to the Super Bowl. Keo also had three tackles in the game (and was called for a questionable personal foul). He and former Boise State star Matt Paradis are Super Bowl-bound against the Carolina Panthers. How about the journey for Paradis, Denver’s starting center? Seven years ago he was Defensive Scout Team Player of the Year as a walk-on redshirt at BSU. Now we await the status of veteran Carolina defensive end Jared Allen’s broken bone in his foot. If the former Idaho State great is able to play (and if Denver makes Keo active), it would be the first time a Bronco, Vandal and Bengal have appeared in the same Super Bowl.

When the south corners of what is now Albertsons Stadium were being built in 1996, I suggested to someone down there that they be called “Pokey’s Corners,” since coach Pokey Allen’s 1994 Bronco team really set the table for the addition with their 13-2 season. But that was short-sighted. They should be called “Keiser’s Corners,” since it was Boise State president Dr. John Keiser whose vision of the Broncos as a Division I-A program came to fruition five years after his 1991 firing by the State Board of Education. The expansion of the stadium was part of Boise State’s move to I-A. Keiser and his wife, Nancy, attended Bronco games through last season. He must have been proud of what the facility looks like today.

As we mark his passing, the other thing to consider during Keiser’s tenure from 1978-91 is the building of the campus he was able to achieve during a deep recession in Boise. The Pavilion and the Morrison Center were constructed while the Treasure Valley was struggling economically. As the area was still emerging from the recession, Keiser’s community relationships also helped foster the initial donation from Keith and Catherine Stein to launch the Blue Thunder Marching Band in 1987—the band had been dormant for 13 years. At virtually any athletic-oriented function during which he spoke, Keiser would say, “It’s a privilege to be a Bronco.”

The other jarring death in recent days was that of Bill Johnson, the 1984 Olympic downhill gold medalist. Johnson became a rather tragic figure at the end of his life, but no one who was here during the 1984 Winter Games will forget the excitement of his upset victory in Sarajevo. There are lots of local ties who we follow these days on the national and international sports scene. But it was a rarity 32 years ago. To see a guy who first raced as a Bogus Basin Mitey Mite take one of the world’s greatest prizes in skiing was a thrill indeed.

The Idaho Stampede were without one of their anchors, Jeff Ayres, for their weekend series in CenturyLink Arena. Happily for Ayres, as the former Arizona State star became the Stampede’s fourth NBA call-up of the season, signing a 10-day contract with the L.A. Clippers. Without him, Texas Legends swept the Stampede, winning 108-101 Saturday night and 114-108 yesterday. Ayres had averaged close to a double-double this season, with 16.3 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. The Stamps have picked up two players from the D-League’s available player pool, 6-6 forward Mychal Adams out of South Alabama and 7-2 center Ian Chiles out of Morgan State. Always fun to watch a 7-2 guy. The Stampede host Reno tomorrow night.

A couple other pro notes—the Idaho Steelheads took two out of three games on their Alaska trip, falling 3-2 to the Aces yesterday several hours after the earthquake south of Anchorage. Coach Neil Graham went with Branden Koom between the pipes for this one after two masterful efforts by Jack Campbell. The Steelheads started the trip with a 2-0 win Friday night, Campbell’s third shutout in January. Then he stifled the Aces again Saturday night, 3-1. Also, Graham DeLaet’s good start got away from him over the weekend at the CareerBuilder Challenge in LaQuinta, CA. The former Boise State star finished in a tie for 42nd. DeLaet was the only local to make the cut.

This Day In Sports…January 25, 1998:

The Denver Broncos finally win a Super Bowl, beating the Green Bay Packers, 31-24, in San Diego. The Broncos had lost four Super Bowls previously. Three of them were with John Elway, the veteran quarterback who at last got the monkey off his back almost 15 years after coming out of Stanford as the no. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft. Denver would win the Super Bowl again the following year in the final game of Elway’s career.

(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.)