The road presents a crossroads

When you think of rugged Mountain West road venues, you think Logan, Alburquerque, Las Vegas and San Diego. When you think of rugged Mountain West road venues, you first think of the ones in Logan, Alburquerque, Las Vegas and San Diego. But the last place you want to overlook is Laramie, where Boise State settles in tomorrow afternoon at 7,200 feet. Wyoming is the only Mountain West team the Broncos did not beat last season—they lost to the Cowboys 65-54 on the road last January before winning 16 of their next 17 games. The Pokes dictated the tempo on the Broncos that night, running their stuff and working the shot clock down, hoping it would cause defensive frustration. And it worked, as Wyo dropped Boise State to 0-3 in the Mountain West play (the Broncos would finish 14-4).

Then there was the semifinal game of the Mountain West Tournament, when Wyoming surprised Boise State in overtime, 71-66. Are the Cowboys the Broncos’ nemesis? If they aren’t collectively, Josh Adams sure might be individually. Adams put up 27 points that night in Las Vegas while playing all 45 minutes. If you think that isn’t pertinent this season, well, it is. Adams leads the Mountain West in scoring at 24.6 points per game, more than five points a game better than New Mexico’s Elijah Brown. The senior guard notched 27 points in a losing effort against Nevada Wednesday night, and he amassed 38 points last Saturday as the Cowboys stunned New Mexico at The Pit.

The glass could make all the difference for Boise State tomorrow, especially if Wyoming’s slow tempo reduces the Broncos’ possessions. Rebounding rebounded against San Jose State Wednesday night, with BSU winning the battle of the boards in dominating fashion, 49-31. That followed a startling deficit of 12 rebounds in last Saturday’s loss to San Diego State. It made a difference last year at Wyoming, where the Cowboys had a 30-19 advantage on the boards. This one should be close no matter how you drill it down—five of the last six meetings between the two teams have been decided by single digits. The Broncos need this one to remain in the “elite” conversation.

Now recruiting is officially a scramble for Boise State in the home stretch to National Letter of Intent Day. The Broncos are suddenly without a quarterback in the 2016 class, as Micah Wilson of Tulsa, OK, has decommitted and flipped to Missouri. The lure of the SEC. And besides, his dad played for the Tigers. Wilson had been one of Boise State’s earliest verbals last spring—and he was just in Boise on a campus visit last weekend. Some recruits were expected to waver after the Broncos lost both of their coordinators, but Wilson wasn’t one of them. At Mizzou he hooks up with Josh Heupel, who just left Utah State to become the Tigers’ new offensive coordinator.

I’ve always had a soft spot for the East-West Shrine Game. I never attended, but I watched it when I was little—when it used to draw 60,000 fans in the Bay Area. The game left California 10 years ago, and tomorrow it’ll be played in St. Petersburg, FL, for the fifth straight year. Two-time All-Mountain West center Marcus Henry will represent Boise State in the 91st edition of the event, hoping to contend for a late-round pick in the NFL Draft this spring. Donte Deayon will be on the other side of the country, competing close to his home in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl in Carson, CA. Deayon is famously undersized at 5-9, 155 pounds, but he’s a renowned playmaker. At the Tropic Bowl in North Miami Beach last Saturday, Shane Williams-Rhodes caught two passes for 18 yards, Rondell McNair recorded a sack and Mercy Maston made one tackle.

The first round this week was much better than last week for two of the Treasure Valley’s three PGA Tour participants. Graham DeLaet is tied for 18th after a five-under 67 yesterday at the CareerBuilder Challenge in LaQuinta, CA, while Tyler Aldridge is tied for 31st, another shot back. Troy Merritt is way off the pace, though, having come in even at 72, tied for 109th. All three shot 73 in the opening round of the Sony Open last week—DeLaet was the only one who rallied to make the cut.

No baseball at Boise State. Not yet, anyway. The Statesman’s Chadd Cripe reports that president Bob Kustra has shied away from reintroducing the sport at BSU “in 2017 or 2018.” The university had been in talks with the ownership of the Boise Hawks for a new on-campus baseball stadium, and it sounds like that could have worked out. But the number-crunching didn’t, especially with cost-of-attendance stipends kicking in. The Bronco coffers would have to be replenished quickly for the baseball plan to move forward. It still can, but it’ll be awhile. Baseball has been dormant at Boise State since 1980. Also, today we mourn the passing of former BSU president John Keiser at the age of 79. More on “Doc Keiser” on Monday.

Speaking of the Hawks, they trade an “s” for a “z” at the end of “Gonzalez.” Andy Gonzalez will be the club’s new manager this season, with Frank Gonzales having moved to the Colorado Rockies’ rookie league team in Grand Junction, CO. This will be the first managerial position for the new Gonzalez, who was on the other Gonzales’ staff last season as Boise’s hitting coach. The 34-year-old Gonzalez, a Puerto Rico native, spent time playing in the majors from 2007-09.

The Idaho Steelheads travel to Alaska for the second time this season—and the first time since October—for a three-game series against the Aces beginning tonight. The Steelheads were swept on their autumn trip to Anchorage, but they seem to have found a rhythm now. The Steelies are coming off a loss to Tulsa but haven’t dropped consecutive games since a three-game losing streak in early December. Special teams have played a part, as Jefferson Dahl is tied for the ECHL lead with nine power-play goals, and the penalty-kill unit has wiped out 10 consecutive opponent power plays. The Aces have some mojo, too, though. They haven’t lost in regulation in their last seven games.

Back to hoops: Idaho has embarked on an old-fashioned Montana-Montana State Big Sky road trip this week, traditionally the toughest one of all, for a couple of pivotal games. Last night was the biggie, and the Vandals handed Montana its first conference loss of the year, 63-58. Idaho began the second half on a 22-5 run before holding off the Grizzlies behind Victor Sanders’ 27 points. The Vandals will be at Montana State tomorrow night. Idaho is now in sole possession of third place in the 12-team Big Sky, behind the 5-0 Weber State Wildcats and the 6-1 Griz.

Just as the Idaho Stampede appear to be hitting their stride, they have to say goodbye to Bryce Dejean-Jones. But that’s why it’s called the NBA Development League. Dejean-Jones has developed to the point that he’s been called up by New Orleans. The 6-6 guard out of Iowa State has signed a 10-day contract with the Pelicans after averaging 19.2 points and 4.7 rebounds in nine games with the Stampede. The Pelicans are familiar with Dejean-Jones, who was with the club during the NBA summer leagues and the preseason. The Stamps will forge on without him as they host the Texas Legends tomorrow and Sunday in CenturyLink Arena.

This Day In Sports…January 22, 2006, 10 years ago today:

Kobe Bryant scores 81 points, second only to Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game in 1962, leading the L.A. Lakers to a 122-104 over Toronto at Staples Center. The Lakers trailed the Raptors by 18 points early in the third quarter—and Bryant scored 51 points after that in an incredible one-man rally. He was 28-of-46 from the floor, including 7-of-13 from 3-point range, and 18-of-20 from the foul line.

(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.)