Maybe the paradigm has changed, but the greatest thing about Boise State basketball moving to the Mountain West in 2011-12 was a guarantee of marquee home games against the likes of UNLV, New Mexico and San Diego State. After five years, it’s finally the Broncos’ turn to miss one of them. To keep to a 16-game conference schedule, every Mountain West hoops team skips one league foe at home and one on the road, and next winter UNLV will not be coming to Boise. The Rebels drew crowds of more than 9,000 to Taco Bell Arena in 2013 and 2014, but it’s been half that the past two years—and now UNLV is totally rebuilding under former New Mexico State coach Marvin Menzies.
On the other hand, Boise State doesn’t have to face San Diego State on the road. The Aztecs are legend when they play before their sellout crowds in Viejas Arena. But is that a good thing for the Broncos, winners of two straight on Montezuma Mesa? Two years ago, Boise State held SDSU to seven points in the final 11 minutes and won 56-46. Then four months ago, the Broncos rallied from nine points down with just over a minute to play to stun the Aztecs 66-63. That ended San Diego State’s phenomenal streak of 164 straight victories when holding the lead with five minutes to go. And BSU did it without James Webb III. It’ll just be a missed opportunity next season.
Two traditional football rivalries currently on hiatus should by all rights, transfer over to men’s basketball next season. The home dates against Nevada and Fresno State are actually centerpieces of the schedule now. The Wolf Pack, resurgent under new coach Eric Musselman last season with a CBI title and a 24-14 record, will be in Taco Bell Arena January 24 or 25. The Bulldogs, who won the Mountain West championship in March and played in their first NCAA Tournament since 2001, will serve as the Broncos’ Senior Night guests on February 28 or March 1.
Speaking of Webb, his NBA tryout rounds are done, and now he awaits the NBA Draft tomorrow night after getting an audience before 20 of the league’s 30 teams. Can he sneak into the second round? Webb plans to watch the draft with his family in Augusta, GA. Chad Ford’s mock draft in this week’s ESPN The Magazine has one Mountain West player, UNLV’s Patrick McCaw, going in the first round (26th overall to the Philadelphia 76ers).
Another Wednesday, another position group up for Boise State’s 30-Year All-Blue Team balloting. The next week, it’s the “specialists,” meaning placekickers, punters and returners. Hopefully it’s “be nice to Kyle Brotzman” week, as the all-time leading scorer among kickers in the FBS deserves to be remembered for that rather than one night in Reno. Also prominent in the discussion at kicker will be Tyler Jones, who led the nation in scoring of any kind in 2004. (Hey, they’re both local kids—Brotzman from Meridian High and Jones from Borah.) Among punt returners, I don’t see anyone touching Quinton Jones.
In Provo, or “from Logan to St. George,” as Deseret News writers Brandon Judd and Jack Urquhart recently put it, the summer will be spent debating who should start at quarterback for BYU: Tanner Mangum or Taysom Hill. Mangum, the former Eagle High star, is the incumbent. But wait—Hill is, too. Hill played about a half last season, and Mangum played the other 25. The monkey wrench was thrown when the oft-injured Hill, who looked like he was done after the injury in last year’s opener at Nebraska, elected to use his medical redshirt and play a sixth season.
Hill is the grizzled veteran, while Mangum broke five BYU freshman records last year. “As great as Mangum is, I think Hill’s athleticism opens things up for the offense even when there are great athletes on the other side of the ball,” writes Urquhart. “(Mangum) fits the offensive philosophy Detmer wants to implement and Mangum has the better overall arm. Remember his first TD pass at home last year, the 87-yarder against Boise State?” counters Judd. They don’t gamble at BYU, but if there was an over/under on Mangum being the starter when the Cougars visit the blue turf on October 20, I’d take the over.
This win was a confidence-building one in the opening week of the season for the Boise Hawks. Javier Medina’s solid five-inning start was backed by one scoreless inning apiece from George Thanopoulos, Marc Magliaro, Jared Gesell and Julian Fernandez to finish a 4-2 victory over Salem-Keizer at Memorial Stadium. Steven Linkous and Bobby Stahel had two RBIs apiece, the second one from Stahel coming in the form of a solo home run in the eighth inning. The Hawks, now 2-3, wrap up their three-games series against the Volcanoes tonight.
The Eagle High girls softball team has become the first Idaho high school squad in any sport to finish the season ranked No. 1 in the nation. The Mustangs are perched atop the final MaxPrep Xcellent 25 rankings, released yesterday. Eagle, the state 5A champion led by two-time Idaho Gatorade Player of the Year Bradie Fillmore, was 29-0 and outscored opponents a staggering 378-26 while hitting 65 home runs.
This Day In Sports…June 22, 1938:
Popular sentiment has Joe Louis fighting not only for the heavyweight championship, but also for democracy as Max Schmeling unwittingly represents Hitler and fascism. Actually, the German boxer was not a member of the Nazi party, but 70,000 at Yankee Stadium cheered as if he were as Louis blitzed him. Sent to the canvas three times, Schmeling was counted out just 124 seconds into the fight.
(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.)