Boise State’s Chandler Hutchison, the preseason Mountain West Player of the Year pick, did not win the honor when the season was all said and done. Conference coaches voted for Nevada’s Caleb Martin instead. The two stars finished the regular season in a virtual tie in scoring at 19.5 points per game. Hutchison outdistanced Martin in rebounding, assists and steals, while the Wolf Pack standout had the edge in three-pointers and shooting percentage. Hutchison is the best all-around player, as he was also named to the Mountain West All-Defensive Team. But he has to let that water flow right under the bridge and focus on the winner of this afternoon’s game between Utah State and Colorado State. That’s who the Broncos face tomorrow night in the Mountain West Tournament quarterfinals.
The only other Boise State honoree, honorable mention included, was Alex Hobbs, who was tabbed the Mountain West Sixth Man of the Year. Fittingly, Hobbs was the Broncos’ sixth-leading scorer in conference play at 7.7 points per game. He also was No. 2 on the team in assists in league competition with 2.4 per game. Hobbs consistently brought energy off the bench, although his patented floaters in the lane haven’t been falling at the rate they did earlier in the season. Still, his role is poised to expand exponentially next season. Hobbs is Boise State’s first Sixth Man of the Year in 30 years—since former Boise Brave Mike Sanor was named the Big Sky’s Top Reserve in the Big Sky in 1987-88. Hobbs will need to be on-point if the Broncos are going to win one, then two, then three games this week.
Is there any doubt that San Diego State is the hottest team in the conference going into the Mountain West Tournament? The Aztecs have defeated the league’s top two teams, Nevada and Boise State, in the past week and sports a six-game winning streak. “I told the team two weeks ago that we’re the best team in this conference,” SDSU coach Brian Dutcher said after beating the Wolf Pack last Saturday. “And if you don’t believe then you shouldn’t step on the floor. We believe we’re the best team in this conference. We have to prove it every night we go out there.” San Diego State opens tomorrow afternoon versus Fresno State, which has lost two of its last three on the heels of a five-game winning streak.
Nevada will have to be a survivor itself as it awaits the survivor of today’s Wyoming-San Jose State game tomorrow afternoon. Wolf Pack star Jordan Caroline confirmed to the Reno Gazette-Journal Monday that he has a fractured pinky finger on his non-shooting hand, an injury he suffered last week in a rout of UNLV. Nevada coach Eric Musselman wasn’t sure if Caroline would be able to go last Saturday at San Diego State—then, with a wrap on his finger, Caroline went out and put up 29 points against the Aztecs. The aforementioned Caleb Martin is still dealing with the left foot injury that happened a little more than a month ago. Martin continues to wear a boot, except for practice and during games. “He takes his shoe off every timeout and massages his own foot,” Musselman said.
There were more Mountain West eyes than usual on this one last night. Gonzaga routed BYU 74-54 in the West Coast Conference championship game across town at Orleans Arena. Could that really be the last WCC Tournament appearance for one or both of those schools? Would Mountain West expansion rumors come to fruition that quickly? The first subject on the table would be TV money, as the Zags would become by far the most attractive basketball program in the league, and BYU would circle the wagons around its relationship with ESPN and its BYUtv machine. Gonzaga holds the cards, though. If the Bulldogs left the WCC, the BYU’s men’s basketball program and the rest of the Cougars’ Olympic sports couldn’t possibly stay in that league and be happy (and that’s not saying they are now).
It wasn’t a vintage performance by the Boise State women, but they did get out of their Mountain West Tournament quarterfinal game with a 60-46 victory over Air Force yesterday. Riley Lupfer nailed five more three-pointers to break the Mountain West season record with a total that now stands at 111. It was the Broncos’ eighth win in a row as they move on to today’s semifinals against Colorado State, a 71-55 winner over Fresno State. CSU will be a tough out. Only six times in 19 previous Mountain West Tournaments on the women’s side has the No. 1 seed won it all. (If the Broncos don’t become the seventh on Friday, they’re guaranteed a spot in the WNIT as the MW regular season champion.)
This will catch us up on Boise State football’s Ironmen of the Week, with two more to go before spring football commences on Monday. Safeties DeAndre Pierce and Skyler Seibold were the honorees for Week 6. For Pierce, it’s just another notch on his leadership belt as he enters his junior season. As he moved into a starting role last season, you rarely saw Pierce beaten on a play and never saw him take a play off. That translates to the weight room. Siebold is one of those Bronco grinders who was originally a walk-on. He’s a special teams specialist who has logged 11 tackles over his first three seasons.
Josh Allen was the talk of the NFL Combine among quarterbacks, especially when he uncorked a pass that traveled nearly 70 yards in drills in Indianapolis. Scout are gaga over Allen’s arm and 6-5, 237-pound frame and can’t wait for draft day. He’s a stand-up guy, to be sure, but I can’t get past that accuracy issue—56 percent last season. In his final collegiate game, Wyoming’s victory over Central Michigan on the blue turf, Allen was just 5-for-12 for 52 yards over the final three quarters of the game. How about this roundabout prediction in USA Today’s first mock draft of the year? Steven Ruiz predicts that Denver will go hard after Kirk Cousins but thinks he will ultimately sign with the Jets. Ruiz surmises that the Broncos will “get desperate and offer the Browns a bushel of picks to get Allen” as the No. 1 overall selection.
Idaho Steelheads goalie Philippe Desrosiers was recalled by Texas of the AHL yesterday. Unless he is instantly returned, Tomas Sholl will make his first appearance between the pipes for the Steelheads against Allen tonight in CenturyLink Arena. Sholl was acquired from the Adirondack Thunder a week ago but has watched as Desrosiers appeared in 10 straight games (he went 6-3 in those). Sholl has good numbers—he played in eight games for Adirondack this season and went 5-0-1 with a 2.05 goals-against average.
This Day In Sports…March 7, 2012:
Rather than pay him a $28 million bonus due that week, the Indianapolis Colts release one of the NFL’s all-time great quarterbacks, Peyton Manning. At an emotional press conference, Manning said goodbye to the Colts after 14 years that saw him transform the franchise into a Super Bowl champion and become the face of Indianapolis itself. The only four-time (now five-time) MVP in NFL history had missed the 2011 season with a neck injury. Manning would choose Denver as his new team 12 days later.
(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.)