Saint Louis points and counterpoints

The more I read about the Saint Louis University job, the more I think it’s a curious one for Boise State’s Leon Rice. The more I read about the Saint Louis University job, the more I think it’s curious that Boise State’s Leon Rice would interview for that post (although that’s kind of a “yeah, but” statement). SLU is in the city limits of St. Louis, listed as one of America’s 10 most dangerous cities. The school is not in an idyllic setting next to a picturesque river. It doesn’t seem like a Leon Rice kind of place. He has spent his entire career in the West, and there would be a learning curve in recruiting, which is a lot different east of the Mississippi. Attendance for SLU men’s basketball this season was similar to Boise State, averaging 6,757 per game, albeit for a team that went 11-21 each of the past two seasons. Until the past couple of years, the Atlantic 10 would have been a step down. Now it’s an upward lateral.

Men’s basketball, however, is the kingpin at Saint Louis, which doesn’t field a football team. Rice is a big football fan, but that hoops focus could be attractive to him. Try as it might, Boise won’t turn into a basketball town in the mold of Albuquerque, Las Vegas or San Diego. The Billikens long for the success they had under Rick Majerus (before he passed away) and in the first two years under the now-fired Jim Crews. And Saint Louis appears to be willing to pony up for that kind of success. The Broncos long for success in hoops like they’ve had in, well, football. If James Webb III does indeed enter the NBA Draft after the evaluation period ends, there would be some major holes to fill on the Boise State roster. This would maybe be the time to bolt.

There’s some consolation to the Mountain West’s sour basketball season tonight as San Diego State faces George Washington in the semifinals of the NIT at Madison Square Garden. After the bitterness of the loss to Fresno State in the MW Tournament championship game, the Aztecs appreciate the way this has turned out. “I like where we’re at,” said senior guard Winston Shepard in the San Diego Union-Tribune. “I wouldn’t say we wanted to prove a point to the (NCAA Tournament selection) committee. We’re just happy to still be playing. There will be eight teams left in the country playing. To be able to say that, I don’t care if it’s the NIT or the NCAA, if you’re still playing at this point your team is pretty special.”

Nevada fell to Morehead State 86-83 in Game 1 of the best-of-three CBI Finals last night in Morehead, KY. The remaining two games will be played in Reno (the last one only if necessary—and the Wolf Pack hopes it’s necssary). I caught a little of the Vegas 16 (er, Half 16) last night. Nobody there at Mandalay Bay. Across town, UNLV hired Arkansas-Little Rock’s Chris Beard as its new head coach, pending Board of Regents approval. Beard took a team that won just 13 games last season and led it to a 30-5 record and into the second round of the NCAA Tournament. UALR beat San Diego State in Viejas Arena early this season, which makes Rebels fans giddy.

Boise State has released a list of 19 former players who will participate in Pro Day on Thursday in front of NFL scouts and personnel from other pro leagues, and an interesting list it is. In addition to the Broncos’ three draft prospects, Darian Thompson, Kamalei Correa and Rees Odhiambo, there are some “where are they now” guys. Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe, the defensive tackle who spent the 2014 season on the San Diego Chargers’ injured reserve list, will give it another shot. Antoine Turner, the one-time homeless D-tackle whose academic problems robbed him of his senior season last fall, will audition as well.

Then you have Troy Ware and Taylor Loffler. Ware’s senior year was eliminated by a torn ACL suffered late in spring football last year. The wide receiver has been rehabbing and training for this Pro Day shot ever since. Loffler, the safety from Kelowna, BC, was beset by knee problems at Boise State and finally hung it up during fall camp in 2014. Except Loffler wasn’t quite done. He ended up transferring to the University of British Columbia and led UBC to the Hardy Trophy last season as the Canada West champion. The one-time Bronco special teams standout is considered a top prospect this year for the CFL.

Idaho has completed its first week of spring football, and it’s go time for quarterback Jake Luton. With two-year starter Matt Linehan sitting out the spring due to a foot injury, Luton has a chance to prove the Vandals can call on him to fill in for Linehan without hesitation. Luton, the sophomore from Marysville, WA, did rush for five touchdowns last season. But he threw just one TD pass versus four interceptions, leading to a subpar pass efficiency rating of 100.2.

Spring football is over at BYU, which held what it called a “generic” spring game on Saturday. There were 18,000 fans in Lavell Edwards Stadium, and most were hoping to get a glimpse of a rejuvenated Taysom Hill in 7-on-7 drills. But Hill was excused from the game in order to travel to Pocatello after the death of his 31-year-old brother Dexter. Eagle High grad Tanner Mangum was 5-for-8 for 82 yards in limited duty in the first public event of BYU’s Kalani Sitake era.

Former Bishop Kelly star Josh Osich appears to be a lock now to make the Opening Day roster of the San Francisco Giants. Osich is 0-2 with a 6.83 ERA in eight appearances during Cactus League games, but the Giants are focused on what he does when the games count. Osich made his big league debut on 4th of July weekend last summer and became a mainstay in middle relief once he was called up for good in early August, making 35 appearances and going 2-0 with a 2.20 ERA and a WHIP of 1.12. Osich recorded 27 strikeouts in 28 2/3 innings.

Mountain View’s Destiny Slocum finished second last night in the McDonalds All-American three-point shootout in Chicago. The Maryland-bound Slocum was edged by Amber Ramirez of San Antonio, a TCU signee. The 39th McDonalds All-American games are set for tomorrow night. Slocum is with the best of the best this week, one of 24 girls players chosen for the event.

This Day In Sports…March 29, 1982:

One of the great gaffes in NCAA Tournament history. Georgetown trailed North Carolina 63-62 and had the ball when, with seven seconds left, the Hoyas’ Freddie Brown mistook the Tar Heels’ James Worthy for a teammate and threw Worthy the ball. Michael Jordan had scored the go-ahead basket nine seconds earlier, and that would finally give North Carolina coach Dean Smith his first national championship in his fourth trip to the NCAA title game.

(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.)