Watching the Boise State-New Mexico game Tuesday night, you got the feeling there was a missing piece for the Broncos. Then you realized the missing piece was, in fact, out on the floor. Nick Duncan went scoreless in the 78-73 loss to the Lobos. What happens if Duncan drills just two three-pointers, like he used to? He still plays 30-plus minutes per game regularly. Coach Leon Rice has his reasons. I mean, the guy sets good screens and takes up a lot of space defensively. In the past nine games, though, Duncan is 13-for-65 from beyond the arc. That’s exactly 20 percent. He shot 41 percent from deep as a freshman, 38 as a sophomore and 35 as a junior. What in the world is going on? Duncan’s a senior. He’s likeable. He’s still a leader, and he’s still an important part of this team. If only he could start scoring again.
The Coloradoan newspaper has unearthed a Colorado State investigation into the conduct of coach Larry Eustachy during the 2013-14 season. Records say Eustachy “created a culture of fear and intimidation and emotionally abused his players.” Former CSU athletic director Jack Graham, who led the 99-day investigation, told the Coloradoan a recommendation was made to fire Eustachy, but it wasn’t carried out. Eustachy was found to have hurled expletives at assistant coaches and players, punched and broken dry erase boards in locker rooms and thrown unopened soda cans against walls. But what should Colorado State do about it now? “The program review at issue took place several years ago and we stand by the manner in which we dealt with the allegations—then and now,” said a statement from the university.
The NFL has made its invitations to the Combine in two weeks official, and Boise State will indeed be represented by running back Jeremy McNichols and linebacker Tanner Vallejo. We’ve seen a lot of analysis of McNichols already—not so much for Vallejo. NFL.com’s overview of the one-time Fiesta Bowl Defensive MVP doesn’t include a grade, as he’s clearly a longshot. The narrative is accented by a chronicle of Vallejo’s injuries over the years, including the wrist surgery that spurred him to shut down his senior season last November. McNichols, meanwhile, gets an NFL.com grade of 5.61, which is described as being in the “chance to become an NFL starter” range.
The highest NFL Draft pick in Boise State history is starting over after nine seasons. Ryan Clady has been released by the New York Jets and is now a free agent. The 30-year-old left tackle is one of the best in the game—when he’s healthy. Clady has seldom been healthy, and he was shelved after nine games last season due to a torn rotator cuff. But he still has tread left on his tires. The New York Giants are already being floated as a possible landing spot for Clady. He could also return to the Jets at a reduced rate. Also, the Matt Paradis operation I talked about Monday has been deemed successful. Paradis, the Denver Broncos center, underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left hip Tuesday in Vail, CO.
Old-timers fondly remember this tournament as the Los Angeles Open. It’s been known as many things over the years, most recently the Northern Trust Open. Now it’s the Genesis Open, and former Boise State standouts Graham DeLaet and Troy Merritt are in the field as the PGA Tour event tees off this morning at Riviera Country Club. DeLaet took last week off after finishing in a tie for ninth at the Phoenix Open. Merritt turned in a strong first round a week ago at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am but ultimately missed the cut.
A new basketball arena at the University of Idaho is one step closer to reality. At its meeting in Boise yesterday, the State Board of Education approved UI’s request to make the “Idaho Arena” project a part of the Vandals’ six-year Capital Plan. The 4,700-seat facility will cost upwards of $30 million, $20 million of which has to come from donations. That’s the stickler. Vandals men’s basketball Don Verlin told Will Hoenike and me on Idaho SportsTalk Monday it’s absolutely critical that the university get this done. The State Board also voted at its Wednesday meeting to delay a decision on allowing Idaho to use $1 million more in institutional support for each of the next four years to cover expected athletic department deficits. That would be more than double the current maximum amount allotted.
As the D-League is set to become the G-League next season with its new Gatorade sponsorship, we take this timely opportunity to update you on James Webb III. Webb, who a year ago was toiling away as a Boise State Bronco, is coming off his biggest night as a pro, scoring 40 points with 13 rebounds in the Delaware 87ers’ win over the Maine Red Claws on Valentine’s Day. Webb still plays inside-out—he dropped in nine three-pointers in the game (from NBA distance, of course). Webb is averaging 35 minutes over 34 games this season, scoring 13.1 points and pulling down 9.1 rebounds per night.
The College of Idaho men, secure in the fact they have a home date out of the gate next week in the Cascade Conference Tournament, try to extend their six-game winning streak tonight. The 25th-ranked Coyotes are out to upend their I-84 rival, No. 16 Eastern Oregon. Mountaineers coach Isaac Williams has returned to the team this season after three years as the director of basketball operations at Boise State. Williams has Eastern on a roll, coming in with wins in six of its last seven games and sporting a 21-6 record. The Yotes also have a 20-win season in hand already at 20-8.
Marijk Vanderschaaf capped a 26-point night with a game-winning jumper with one second left as the Boise State women edged New Mexico 64-62 last night in Taco Bell Arena. The Broncos rallied from a 10-point fourth quarter deficit to improve to 7-6 in the Mountain West. They were held to 21 points in the first half by the Lobos but put up 43 in the second. One other campus note: Boise State swept both relays on the opening night of the Mountain West Swimming and Diving Championships at the Texas A&M Natatorium and has a two-point lead in team standings going into today’s action.
This Day In Sports…February 16, 1984:
Bill Johnson, who started skiing as a Mitey Mite at Bogus Basin, becomes the first American to win the Olympic downhill. Johnson had brashly predicted that he would win after having the fastest training runs on the course at the Winter Olympics in Sarajevo. Johnson, however, lived a troubled life. After a horrible crash during a comeback attempt in 2001, a brain-damaged Johnson was in need of constant care. He passed away in January, 2016, at the age of 55.
(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.)