On Tuesday I kind of went off on ESPNU not being worth a late tipoff time on a work night (and, again, a school night) for Boise State. But even I was surprised to see the Taco Bell Arena attendance figure of 3,752. I maintain it could have been 2,000 higher with a 7 p.m. tipoff. But let’s look at the big picture. Bronco attendance for the season is 4,151 per game, down more than 2,000 from last season’s figure of 6,271. That’s a massive drop.
There was no Oregon-type game on the home schedule this season. The weather has been historically bad. The star power of James Webb III and Anthony Drmic is gone, and there’s the perception that this is a rebuilding team. Yes, it’s been a perfect storm of sorts. But off more than 2,000 fans a game? The window that would allow Boise State to catch up has closed, as the games against San Diego State and New Mexico are already in the books (both of them 9 p.m. starts). The only marquee game left on the schedule is Nevada a week from Saturday.
James Reid has now led Boise State in scoring in three consecutive games, putting up 16 points in Tuesday night’s 81-70 loss to New Mexico. There’s good news and bad news in that. The good news is that Reid is fulfilling the promise of leadership and three-pointers he brought in as a transfer from Arkansas-Little Rock. He’s averaging 17.3 points over the past three games, and he speaks the truth in postgame interviews, such as this observation after the game versus the Lobos: “We weren’t playing hard (early), we were playing soft.” But the Broncos need their big guns to be leading in scoring—Chandler Hutchison, Nick Duncan and even Paris Austin. Each player has had his challenges during this two-game losing streak.
The Wolf Pack took sole possession of first place in the Mountain West last night in a closer-than-expected 83-76 win over Air Force in Reno. D.J. Fenner poured in 30 points for Nevada, which is now 5-1 in conference. Boise State’s Saturday opponent, San Jose State, was taken down 80-70 at home by Wyoming, although Brandon Clarke had another big game with 19 points and 13 rebounds for the Spartans. And Fresno State, shaky on the road and dangerous at home, was in Save Mart Center last night. The Bulldogs routed Colorado State 78-57.
KTIK’s Jeff Caves reports that defensive coordinatior Andy Avalos and co-offensive coordinator Zak Hill are staying at Boise State. As in, Avalos will not go to Cal to join new head coach Justin Wilcox, who coached him as a freshman and sophomore linebacker with the Broncos. And Hill is not pursuing the head coaching job at his old stomping grounds at Eastern Washington, which is looking for a replacement for Berkeley-bound Beau Baldwin. No word on how far conversations got with either guy, but they’re apparently locked in to the Boise State program.
At some point, Noa might be backing up Moa. Boise State’s latest football commitment is Ezekiel “Zeke” Noa, an inside linebacker from Helix High in La Mesa near San Diego. Noa has given the Broncos his verbal, becoming the 17th recruit for the 2017 recruiting class (including those already enrolled). Not be confused with startng defensive tackle David Moa, Noa is a 6-0, 230-pounder who Helix coach Robbie Owens said on Idaho SportsTalk is “right in the mold of all the great ones who have come out of Helix.” Let’s throw two names out there: a running back named Reggie Bush, and former Boise State and current Cleveland cornerback Jamar Taylor.
Graham DeLaet makes his new year debut today at the CareerBuilder Challenge in La Quinta, CA. DeLaet hasn’t played since the first week of November and has spent the past two months rehabbing a back injury. The former Boise State star just wants to stay healthy this year. DeLaet plans on playing about 25 PGA Tour events in 2017. Fellow former Bronco Troy Merritt, who missed the cut last week at the Sony Open in Hawaii, is also in the field today.
Travis Walsh was the only Idaho Steelhead in action last night, representing the club at the ECHL All-Star Classic in Glens Falls, NY. Walsh had the honor of being named an alternate captain for the All-Stars and was elevated to the starting lineup earlier in the week. He didn’t register any stats outside one shot on goal in the All-Stars’ 8-7 victory. The Steelheads as a whole will be back in action Saturday and Sunday at Tulsa.
Back to the hardwood, the Boise State women committed only four turnovers and made all 12 of their free throws last night, and Brooke Pahukoa put up 21 points. There are your positives. But the Broncos shot just 31 percent from the field (25-for-80) and were just 6-of-28 from three-point land in a 75-68 loss to the Lobos. Boise State has indeed hit a rough patch, losing three of its last four. The Broncos host San Jose State Saturday.
This we know. There will be a day in February when the temperature is in the 50’s, and the sun is out, and everybody will go absolutely crazy. It will happen. Until then, we reconcile our place in Treasure Valley weather history, as the January from H-E-double-hockey-sticks continues. This from College of Idaho: “Due to extreme weather conditions in Eastern Oregon and Southwestern Idaho, along with road closures, the Cascade Conference has rescheduled the Friday-Saturday games at Corban and Northwest Christian.” The Coyotes will now play Corban Saturday afternoon and Northwest Christian Sunday afternoon. This marks the second straight weekend that the Yotes will play afternoon games on Saturday and Sunday.
This Day In Sports…January 19, 1983:
One of the craziest trades in sports history, as the Seattle Breakers of the Western Hockey League trade the rights to left wing Tom Martin to the Victoria Cougars—for a used bus. Seattle’s bus had blown an engine eight days before, and Martin, a Victoria native, had refused to play for Seattle. So the Breakers got the bus, and the Cougars got $35,000 and the rights to Martin.
(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.)