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Wednesday Weekly…January 31, 2024.
You hear a lot about Quad 1 wins and Quad 1 losses in college basketball. According to BracketResearch.com, Boise State currently has three of the former and four of the latter, and the ones in the latter category are beginning to be a concern. Theoretically those are quality losses, but how many are too many? The Broncos are staring a fifth in the face tonight when they take on New Mexico at The Pit. The way the Lobos are playing, keeping this thing in single digits would be an accomplishment. UNM has won five games in a row—by an average of 20.8 points. Some say the Mountain West is a five-bid league in the NCAA Tournament. Right now Boise State is fifth in line, though, and will have to earn it. There are 11 conference games remaining, and the margin for error is rapidly drying up.
MAX LOOKS TO GET HIS MOXIE BACK
We know how good Boise State’s Max Rice can be. It’s never been about being Leon Rice’s son—it’s been about being a solid basketball player. Max was second-team All-Mountain West last season after driving other conference teams crazy, both offensively and defensively. That award was voted on by opposing coaches. Unfortunately, Rice’s sixth year has been different. He and the Broncos are kind of at a crossroads going into a brutal assignment tonight at New Mexico. Rice has played more minutes than any other Bronco in Mountain West games, yet he’s averaging less than 29 percent from the floor and less than 28 percent from three-point range. Does Max just need more rest? Andrew Meadow is waiting in the wings, but at this point, Rice is a better defender than the true freshman. What to do?
‘GO TIME’ FOR THE BRONCOS’ GUARDS
The challenge for Rice and the other Boise State guards in Albuquerque will be the guys at that position in the white uniforms. New Mexico has the best trio of guards in the Mountain West—two of them three-year starters, Jaelen House and Jamal Mashburn Jr. The other is second-year starter Donovan Dent. All three average at least 14½ points per game. How do the Broncos counter that? Rice has been struggling lately, point guard Roddie Anderson III is still evolving, and Jace Whiting and Meadow are just there to spell them right now. UNM is favored by 9½ points tonight. Boise State will need another gear, especially in front of a raucous Pit crowd that could number 15,000.
IT WAS MORE THAN JUST FREE THROWS
You can talk until you bleed blue in the face about the effect Boise State’s free throw shooting had on the 90-84 overtime loss to Utah State last Saturday. There were some key misses to be sure. But the Broncos were 23-for-31 from the line. There have been far worse games. (The Aggies were 26-for-31). I’d add this in. Early in the second half, Boise State had sprinted out to a seven-point lead. Then the parade of missed layups started with an errant dunk at the 17½-minute mark. Between missed layups and floaters over the next nine minutes and change, by my count there nine of those that didn’t go down. Plus three more in the OT. Finishing at the rim has seldom been more frustrating for the Broncos.
THIRD CHANCE FOR A TALENTED WIDEOUT
There had been murmurs about this for more than a week, but it became official last Thursday when wide receiver Chris Marshall signed with Boise State football. At 6-3, Marshall is a big target and is a former five-star recruit who played at Texas A&M and Ole Miss before spending last season at Kilgore College in Texas. He was the No. 1 active junior college recruit in the country. But the story will be how Marshall bounces back from his baggage. He had some disciplinary problems at the SEC schools and was, in fact, dismissed by the Rebels. So this is a very interesting pickup for new coach Spencer Danielson as he molds the Broncos culture to his vision. Danielson is gambling that he’s the guy who can right Marshall’s ship.
MOORE ON THE MOVE AGAIN
Well, Kellen has left the building in L.A. The Boise State great is indeed the new offensive coordinator in Philadelphia after the highly-touted Eagles crashed and burned down the stretch. Coach Nick Sirianni was the first to admit that his offense “got a little stale” at the end of the year, and he’s gone a new direction to “take away the staleness.” The expert consensus on Moore is that, yes, it didn’t work with the Chargers—but also that he was anything but stale with Dallas. In his four seasons as O-coordinator with the Cowboys, they were fifth in points per drive and fourth in third down efficiency, and they were top 10 in weird analytics things like “expected points added per play” and “expected points added per designed rush.” Alrightee then.
DEMARCUS MAKES THE PRO BOWL THING
Former Boise State star DeMarcus Lawrence has been added to the Pro Bowl Games (which is what’s left of the Pro Bowl) this weekend in Orlando. Lawrence replaces San Francisco 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa, who is headed to the Super Bowl. It’s the fourth Pro Bowl selection for Lawrence, the Dallas Cowboys mainstay who’s in his 10th NFL season. Lawrence was a dominant defensive end on the blue turf in 2012 and 2013, Coach Pete’s final two seasons.
PURDY: A PROUD FORMER HAWK
You may have heard this before, but way back in 1991 when I was the P.A. announcer for the Boise Hawks, a starting pitcher named Shawn Purdy made his pro debut with the team and went 8-4 with a 3.01 ERA. That was the year the Hawks won their first Northwest League title under manager Tom Kotchman, and Purdy was one of the key components. He also made one start for the Hawks in 1993 (another championship year) and won that. You probably saw a number of Shawn Purdy cutaways in the NFC Championship Game Sunday, because Super Bowl-bound 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy is his son.
There might be a Shawn Purdy sighting in Boise this fall, but it won’t be for a Hawks reunion. If he’s here, he’ll be wearing the navy blue of Nevada, as Brock’s little brother Chubba is now a QB for coach Jeff Choate’s Wolf Pack. Nevada will play Boise State on the blue turf on a date to be determined this fall. Chubba, who had initially committed out of the transfer portal to San Jose State before coach Brent Brennan took the Arizona job, spent the past two seasons at Nebraska.
STEELIES TRANSACTION BLITZ
The Idaho Steelheads are having a solid season—keeping in mind that nothing is going to compare to their ECHL-record 58-11-3 run of a year ago. The Steelheads have come back to earth thanks partly to what you might call “roster inconsistency.” There have been call-ups and professional tryout contracts and player loans with the AHL. And you can’t deny ECHL players those opportunities. The good news is that Steelies scoring leader Mark Rassell is back with the club after a PTO with the Calgary Wranglers. The Steelheads, who dropped two of three games last weekend at Tulsa and are now 26-13-2, are back in Idaho Central Arena for a three-game series beginning tonight.
YOTES ARE DANGEROUS THE SECOND TIME AROUND
College of Idaho didn’t mess around when it faced its challengers in the Cascade Conference race last weekend. The Coyotes’ only CCC loss of the season was at Southern Oregon in December, 81-75 in the league opener. The next night the Yotes slipped by Oregon Tech 78-75. In the rematches in Caldwell, C of I beat those two schools by 32 and 24 points, respectively. The star du jour was Drew Wyman, who has been named Cascade Conference Player of the Week after a combined 45 points and a sizzling 11-for-15 performance from three-point range. College of Idaho is now 18-2—next up are Lewis-Clark State and Walla Walla on the road this weekend.
This Day In Sports…brought to you by BBSI BOISE…payroll, process and prosperity for your business.
January 31, 2014, 10 years ago today: David Stern’s run as NBA commissioner ends with his retirement after 30 years at the helm. Under Stern, the NBA grew immensely in popularity in the 1990s and 2000s, helping basketball’s influence spread globally and making international talent a staple of NBA rosters. Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley helped spur the NBA’s rise—Stern recognized that and focused the league’s marketing on star players. He also oversaw the birth of the WNBA and the NBA G League (which had a 10-year run in Boise with the Idaho Stampede). Stern was the longest-running commissioner in the professional team sports history. He passed away in 2020 at the age of 77.
(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors four sports segments each weekday on 95.3 FM KTIK. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)
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