Boise State’s James Webb III began the campaign as a preseason first-team pick, and he finished what he started. The official All-Mountain West hoops teams are out. Boise State’s James Webb III began the campaign as a preseason first-team pick, and he finished what he started with his first-team selection by the conference’s coaches yesterday. It wasn’t an entirely consistent season for Webb, but at times it was spectacular. The 6-10 junior forward is seventh in the league in scoring at 15.8 points per game and has a narrow lead in rebounding at 9.2 per outing. But it’s how Webb does it that makes him so memorable. He’s the second first-team honoree for the Broncos since they became a member of the Mountain West, joining last year’s MW Player of the Year, Derrick Marks. Mikey Thompson was a third-team selection, as he finishes his career with by far his best season as a Bronco.
Anthony Drmic was also a preseason All-Mountain West first-team pick, but his nerve-damaged ankle gave him a “not so fast my friend” early on. The injury changed Drmic’s game—only recently has he approached the player we knew the first three years of his Boise State career. Still, it was surprising not to see him nab at least an honorable mention award from the MW. Drmic is going to finish as one of the top five scorers in Mountain West history. Bronco media relations guy Mike Walsh came up with this: Drmic is the only player among the conference’s top 10 all-time scorers to never earn first-team all-league honors.
I have no problem with the Mountain West’s feature awards. Coaches resisted the temptation to vote flamboyant Wyoming Cowboy Josh Adams the MW Player of the Year despite his 24.9 points-per-game scoring average and went for Fresno State’s Marvelle Harris instead. The Coach of the Year is San Diego State’s Steve Fisher, whose Aztecs withstood shocking early-season losses to the University of San Diego in Petco Park and Grand Canyon in Viejas Arena to go 16-2 in conference play. Enjoy Fisher while you can—he turns 71 in two weeks.
The Mountain West Tournament begins today on the men’s side with the three play-in games. The one that affects Boise State is the No. 6-11 matchup between Colorado State and San Jose State. The Broncos play the winner in the last of the four quarterfinal games tomorrow night. On the women’s side, defending champion Boise State is already done after falling to UNLV 71-65 last night. The Broncos put up a staggering 42 three-point attempts, a school record, and made only 10 of them.
Here’s a list for the ages: “100 Greatest Moments in Sports History,” unveiled yesterday at Sports Illustrated.com. Just making the cut at No. 100 is “Party Crashers,” Boise State’s upset of Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl. The synopsis: “Despite No. 8 Oklahoma’s 25 unanswered points, No. 9 Boise State won the Fiesta Bowl in overtime thanks to several trick plays, most notably the statue of liberty play on the winning two-point conversion.” The impact: “Boise State finished the season undefeated, but never had a chance to win the national championship, evidence of the need for a college football playoff.”
You can go up the list and find places higher on the ledger where you think this Fiesta Bowl deserved to be. But it’s in good company all the way around. No need to quibble, as there are only eight college football moments on the entire list. No. 90 was Babe Ruth’s “Called Shot” in the 1932 World Series, and No. 85 was Willie Mays’ legendary catch of Vic Wertz’s shot in the 1954 World Series. The top sports moment of all-time was the “Miracle On Ice,” the USA hockey team’s upset of the Soviet Union in the 1980 Winter Olympics at Lake Placid.
Tickets are selling briskly for Hawaii’s first football journey outside the United States, its season opener against Cal in what they’re calling the “Sydney College Cup” on August 27. The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports that UH officials returned from a site survey trip to Sydney last week and said they have been told that more than 40,000 tickets have already been sold for the game at ANZ Stadium. The 83,500-seat facility in Olympic Park was built as the centerpiece of the 2000 Summer Games. The Warriors-Bears meeting represents the first college football game ever played in Sydney, and the first in Australia since BYU played Colorado State in the “Melbourne Bowl” in 1987. There is concern on the Islands, though, that this will serve as a dress rehearsal for Sydney in an effort to siphon away the Pro Bowl from Hawaii.
Hawaii is giving up a home game for this venture, and that’s a good thing. You think the crowd was skimpy the last time Boise State visited Aloha Stadium in 2012? Attendance was announced at 29,471 for the Broncos’ 49-14 victory, but the actual turnstile count was about two-thirds of that in the 50,000-seat facility. The free-fall has only continued since then. An auditor’s report told the University of Hawaii Board of Regents last month that Hawaii football averaged an abysmal turnstile number of just 16,082 fans per game in 2015. It was the lowest attendance average for the Rainbow Warriors in 41 years. The NCAA-mandated minimum average for FBS membership is 15,000, but when has that ever been enforced?
The Idaho Stampede, despite a seriously-shuffled roster, raced out to a 20-point halftime lead last night and cruised past the Texas Legends, 111-83. The Stampede got 30 points from Treveon Graham, and they had Jared Cunningham observing from the bench. He was re-signed by the Stampede yesterday. Cunningham played in 40 NBA games for Cleveland this season before being traded to Orlando, who waived him two weeks ago. Cunningham appeared in 11 games for the Stamps last season and averaged 20.7 points per game. The former Oregon State star was the Cavaliers’ first-round pick in the 2012 NBA Draft and has appeared in 80 NBA games for five teams. Cunningham played in the Las Vegas and Salt Lake City summer leagues for the Utah Jazz this past summer.
Two notes from the College of Idaho: The Coyotes’ 2016 football schedule is out, and it includes five home dates, beginning with the season opener on September 3 against Montana Western. None of the five games conflicts with a Boise State home game this season, and that’ll help keep the momentum going in the stands at Simplot Stadium. The Yotes were second in the NAIA in attendance last season at 4,412 per game. And the C of I women’s ski team recorded its best giant slalom finish in nearly two decades yesterday, placing fifth at the USCSA National Championships at Lake Placid. The Yotes men’s team competes in the giant slalom today.
This Day In Sports…March 9, 1980:
In one of the biggest first-weekend upsets in NCAA Tournament history, UCLA stuns Ray Meyer’s top-ranked, unbeaten DePaul squad, 77-71, in the second round of the West Regional. Led by freshman guard Rod Foster and high-scoring forward Kiki Vandeweghe, coach Larry Brown’s Bruins would make it all the way to the national championship game before falling to Louisville, 59-54.
(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.)