At a time like this, you start to look at what is lacking in the Boise State men’s basketball team. At a time like this, you start to look at what is lacking in the Boise State men’s basketball team. And you wonder what this group might be like if it still had Derrick Marks. Reality is setting in. The Broncos really miss last season’s Mountain West Player of the Year. With James Webb III in a slump right now and Anthony Drmic having been affected by nerve damage in his leg, they really don’t have that offensive game-changer. How many games did Marks take over last winter? Coach Leon Rice talked after Saturday’s loss at Air Force about “reinventing this team a bit.” It’s clear, though, that no one on the roster this season can compensate for Marks. Maybe now that an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament is out of the question, the Broncos can refocus in time for tomorrow night’s game at Colorado State.
Let’s recap what Marks meant during the stretch that saw Boise State win 14 of its final 15 Mountain West games last year. Three of Marks’ league-high four MW Player of the Week awards came during the conference season. He led the league with 21.3 points per game in Mountain West play, the fourth-highest mark in conference history. Marks scored in double figures each of the Broncos’ final 17 games, including eight 20-point outings and four with at least 30 points. His accuracy is sorely missed, too. In MW play, Marks shot 49.8 percent from the field and 40.6 percent from three-point range.
So how did Boise State survive so long without Marks this season? The Broncos went into last month’s home game against San Diego State with a 14-4 record and a 4-0 mark in Mountain West play—and even had a vote in the Coaches Poll on the heels of a 10-game winning streak. At that time, they were making shots, and they had confidence. Success begat success. Now it’s snowballing the other way, and—as much as the team cites the need for better defense—it starts with shooting. The three-point frustration has been acute. In its last nine games, Boise State is shooting 28.4 percent from beyond the arc. In Rice’s first five years as coach, the Broncos shot a combined 36.9 percent on three-pointers. They’re now below 33 percent for the season—and under 30 percent in Mountain West games (10th of 11 teams in the conference).
Going into tomorrow night’s game in Fort Collins, Boise State can barely see San Diego State’s taillights in the Mountain West standings. The Aztecs are up around the bend with an 11-0 record, while the Broncos are now 7-4 and are in third place, a half-game behind New Mexico. But BSU is just a half-game ahead of Fresno State and 1½ games up on CSU and Nevada, who are tied for fifth. Only the top five teams earn byes into the Mountain West Tournament quarterfinals next month in Las Vegas. On the other hand, the Broncos can move back into a tie for second tonight if Utah State is able to upset New Mexico in Logan.
Now that the Super Bowl smoke has cleared, here are your all-time Boise State and Idaho Super Bowl champions as Matt Paradis becomes the fifth Bronco and Shiloh Keo the seventh Vandal to play in it and win it. Preceding Paradis for Boise State: Daryn Colledge and Korey Hall (Packers, 2011), Kimo von Oelhoffen (Steelers, 2006) and Markus Koch (Redskins, 1988). Preceding Keo for Idaho: Jake Scott (Colts, 2007), Spencer Folau (Ravens, 2001), Jeff Robinson (Rams, 2000), Mark Schlereth (Broncos, 1998-99, Redskins, 1988), Eric Yarber (Redskins, 1988) and Jerry Kramer (Packers, 1967-68). Injured former Boise State star Ryan Clady didn’t play for Denver Sunday, but he’ll be sized for a big ol’ ring, too.
While Johnny Manziel looks to be misbehaving himself out of a possible shot in the Dallas Cowboys organization, Robert Griffin III remains a possibility in the quarterback room. In the weekly Mailbag at DallasCowboys.com, a reader asks if former Boise State great Kellen Moore is being overlooked. Says Brian Broadus: “I agree with you that, given the situation, he played well—but there will always be questions about his physical abilities. I would like to see him get the opportunity to be the backup behind Tony Romo, but if there are quarterbacks on the street that they thought more as franchise types, then they are going to go that route.”
Says Dallas Cowboys.com’s David Helman: “I have no problem with Kellen Moore going to training camp as part of this roster, but I think it’d be a mistake to just hand him the reigns to the backup job. But he’s certainly deserving of a chance to make the 53 next summer.” That seems to be the consensus on Moore. He had an impressive stretch at the end of the season under the circumstances, especially his 435-yard game in the finale. Although Moore’s physical limitations remain in the eyes of Dallas, the Cowboys are reluctant to let him go.
Former Boise Hawk Kris Bryant gave Chicago Cubs fans (and probably manager Joe Maddon) quite a start over the weekend when he posted a video of his swim with sharks in Hawaii. The 2015 National League Rookie of the Year was actually in a protective cage, but the Cubbies faithful would rather he not do stuff like that. Messaged one fan, “Get back in the batting cage bro!”. Bryant actually did that later on his vacation. The Cubs are less than two weeks away from spring training in Arizona.
J.J. O’Brien must have the attention of the Utah Jazz, who have already called him up once this season. The former San Diego State star poured in 30 points last night, leading the Idaho Stampede to a 129-116 win over the L.A. D-Fenders in CenturyLink Arena. O’Brien, who has put up 75 points in the last three games, also found the time to dish out eight assists. That offset a 37-point explosion by the D-Fenders’ Vander Blue, a former Stamp. It also helped the Stampede break a four-game losing streak. The same two teams meet downtown tomorrow night.
This Day In Sports…February 9, 1992:
Three months after stunning the world with the news he had contracted the HIV virus and was immediately retiring from the Los Angeles Lakers, Magic Johnson returns to play in the 42nd NBA All-Star game in Orlando. Despite having not played that season, Johnson scored 25 points in 29 minutes as the West beat the East, 153-113. That summer he’d play for the USA Dream Team at the Barcelona Olympics. That would be followed by an NBA comeback, including some coaching, before Johnson retired for good in 1996.
(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.)