Whatever euphoria remains from Boise State’s stunning comeback at San Diego State has to be shelved now. Whatever euphoria remains from Boise State’s stunning comeback against San Diego State Saturday has to be shelved for Senior Night tomorrow. But quick. The aura of the Broncos’ 66-63 win at Viejas Arena has no bearing on the regular season home finale against Nevada. New coach Eric Musselman has the Wolf Pack glued together since replacing the fired David Carter after last season. The Pack has improved measurably since the first meeting between these two teams, a 74-67 Boise State win in Reno in January. “They believe,” said Musselman after Sunday’s overtime victory over Colorado State. In the huddles, during halftime, they believe. This is a special group to go from nine wins last year to 18 with two to play.” Nevada has won five of its last six games.
There are two injury questions that could affect the Boise State-Nevada matchup. James Webb III, of course, missed the win over San Diego State with a sprained MCL and bruised knee and remains day-to-day. Webb did warm up Saturday in Viejas Arena, though. In fact, the San Diego Union-Tribune characterized it as “an active 20-minute workout before the game while NBA scouts looked on.” Webb remains the Mountain West’s leading rebounder at 9.4 per game.
The Wolf Pack is facing a day-to-day situation of its own, as senior point guard and leading scorer Marqueze Coleman sprained his ankle in a win over Utah State last Wednesday. Coleman didn’t play in Sunday’s win over CSU (he was off crutches but was in a walking boot). Nevada coach Eric Musselman doesn’t want to wait around. “He said it’s the worst he’s ever sprained his ankle,” Musselman told the Reno Gazette-Journal after the USU game. But then Musselman added, “If he can go, I’m rolling him out there. I’m trying to win every game like it’s the last game of my life. I’d love to tell you something different. We coach, we play like there’s no tomorrow.” Maybe you like Musselman’s spirit, but I like Rice’s erring on the side of caution in waiting for Webb to be 100 percent.
Boise State wants bodies in the seats as Anthony Drmic, Mikey Thompson, Montigo Alford and Lonnie Jackson are honored on Senior Night. So much so that the Broncos are offering four-dollar tickets in the balcony to honor the quartet. Attendance has been good during Mountain West play. At least until that dreaded 9 p.m. tipoff against UNLV a week ago. Only 4,605 populated Taco Bell Arena that night. BSU doesn’t want to take any chances for the send-off tomorrow night—and besides, it’s a 7 p.m. start versus Nevada.
Both Boise State and Nevada clinched first-round byes in next week’s Mountain West Tournament with their wins over the weekend. With San Diego State having clinched the conference’s regular-season championship, the posturing now involves the second through the fifth spots in tournament seeding. Fresno State is currently in second at 11-5 in league play, with the Broncos and Wolf Pack tied for third at 10-6 and New Mexico in fifth place. Only the second and third seed would avoid the Aztecs until the title in Las Vegas next week. So if that’s appealing to Boise State (and maybe it should be), tomorrow night’s game is big.
Boise State’s Pro Day at the end of this month has suddenly become a very important day for Darian Thompson. The former Boise State safety struggled at the NFL Combine yesterday in his on-field drills. The theme of the day for Thompson was unlucky 13—he was 13th in the 40-yard dash (4.69 seconds), the broad jump and the vertical leap. All that after finishing 15th in bench press reps Sunday with 12. Those results are in stark contrast to Thompson’s performance at the Senior Bowl a month ago, where he was the North team MVP after logging five tackles and two pass breakups.
Here’s what NFL.com draft analyst Chad Reuter said before the day’s workouts while rating Thompson as the No. 2 safety overall: “Thompson proved himself a ballhawk as a four-year contributor for the Broncos, setting a Mountain West Conference record with 19 career interceptions. Thompson played in traffic to stop the run and was active versus the pass, showing an all-around game that likely will make him an immediate starter in the league.” Hopefully there’s not a highly-revised followup. Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net has changed his tone, tweeting yesterday that Thompson “needs to blow up pro-day or will fall out of top 40.”
One of the former Boise State stars Thompson models himself after went through his Combine experience—coincidentally—on Leap Day in 2012. For comparison’s sake, Iloka tied for sixth among 46 defensive backs by benching 20 reps at 225 pounds. Then, however, he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.66 seconds, just three-hundredths of a second better than Thompson yesterday. But Iloka turned around and posted the fastest 20-yard shuttle among safeties. Which brings us to the George Iloka of today, a high-level free agent after four seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals. Conor Orr of NFL.com reports that the Detroit Lions are targeting Iloka, noting that if “Eric Berry stays in Kansas City on a new deal, safeties like Iloka should shoot to the top of most free agent boards.”
There’s a logjam in the race for the third and fourth first-round byes in the Big Sky Tournament next week. Idaho moved into a four-way tie for third place after outlasting Eastern Washington 66-62 Saturday night. Eastern is part of that knotted group, as is Idaho State, who downed Montana State 76-69. North Dakota is the fourth piece of the tie. The Vandals end the regular season at home this week against Weber State on Thursday—and the Bengals this Saturday.
We go a long way to make 2014 World Series hero Madison Bumgarner local today, but here it is. The San Francisco Giants website has a playlist of walk-up music for players this season. One of Bumgarner’s two choices is “John The Revelator” by iconic Boise musician Curtis Stigers. It’s from the FX TV series “Sons Of Anarchy” that ended just over a year ago. If you check it out, you’ll see why it won’t ever be found on a “Jock Rock” compilation. It’s slow and bluesy (very Stigers and very good). Hey, whatever lights MadBum’s fire. He’s one of the best-hitting pitchers in baseball.
This Day In Sports…March 1, 1993:
Anaheim’s new NHL expansion franchise, founded by the Disney Company, is named “The Mighty Ducks” after the 1992 movie of the same name. It was a lucrative marketing move by Disney, which saw Mighty Ducks merchandise sales shoot up to No. 1 in the NHL. The franchise was sold in 2005, and in 2006, the “Mighty” was dropped from the nickname, making the team the Anaheim Ducks we know today.
(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.)