Scott Slant Wednesday Weekly: Danielson proves to be a heckuva problem-solver

Only one thing could have bumped Boise State basketball’s stretch run in the Mountain West out of the lead story today. Dirk Koetter is back as Broncos offensive coordinator? Believe it. Coach Spencer Danielson was put in a pickle when Bush Hamdan left Boise State in the inconvenient month of February. What an answer. Danielson needed a defensive coordinator, and he retained Eric Chinander, the former D.C. at Nebraska. He needed a safeties coach, and he hired Tyler Stockton, the much-decorated defensive coordinator at Ball State. And everyone clamored for a quarterback out of the transfer portal, and all Danielson did was land USC’s Malachi Nelson, at one point the No. 1 player in the 2023 recruiting class. Nelson has to be the happiest guy in the world right now.

Koetter is the quarterback whisperer. At least that’s his No. 1 role as he begins his second tour of duty as a one-year O.C. at Boise State. Sure, he’s been handed the keys to a loaded offense—a lot more loaded than the one he had two years ago when he magically appeared four games into the season. But the development of Nelson at QB is front-and-center. Koetter brought Taylen Green along in 2022. Green is the most athletic quarterback ever to play for the Broncos. But you wonder if Koetter ever felt Green was nearly a finished product. He was the analyst on FS1 for Boise State’s shocking loss at Colorado State last fall. “Well, Taylen looked to be a little late on that throw,” said Koetter a couple times in the first half. Read between the lines, and he meant a lot late.


Yes, it was Dirk Koetter Day for Bronco Nation, but there was a rather important basketball game Tuesday night. And it was a weird one. Boise State didn’t score a basket until more than five minutes were gone at Air Force and led only 28-26 at halftime. The biggest lead was six points. All the Broncos did in the second half was put up 51 points to win by 31, 79-48. The Falcons, coming off their 78-77 upset of New Mexico at The Pit last Saturday, scored only 22 points after halftime. The difference was defense and confidence as Boise State picked up its 20th win of the season and kept pace with Utah State atop the Mountain West. The Broncos come home having won back-to-back games at 7,000 feet by a combined 51 points.


Tyson Degenhart led the Broncos, as is his habit, with 21 points. But the offensive takeaway is that Chibuzo Agbo caught fire again, scoring 17 points at Air Force and draining 4-of-5 from three-point land. It was Agbo’s best scoring night since he put up 19 against Cal State Fullerton a week before Christmas. It’s also the first time he’s shot better than 50 percent from the field (5-of-7) since the win at Nevada on January 12. The Broncos need that constant threat from Agbo beyond the arc to loosen things up inside.


Now it’s the feature game of the season to this point, as Boise State hosts New Mexico Saturday night in ExtraMile Arena. Geoff Grammar of the Albuquerque Journal has all sorts of factoids coming out of the Lobos’ devastating 78-77 loss to Air Force in The Pit last Saturday. New Mexico, after all, is looking to break a 10-year NCAA Tournament drought. The Lobos’ only path to the Big Dance now might be to win the Mountain West Tournament. So they’ll not only be trying to avenge their loss to Boise State in The Pit, they’ll be fighting for as high a seed as they can get in Las Vegas in two weeks. Last Saturday was the second biggest differential in rankings of any UNM loss in the 25-year Mountain West era. New Mexico was rated No. 26 in KenPom—Air Force was No. 262, a gap of 236 spots.


How far has Boise State’s Roddie Anderson III come the past six weeks? He was scoreless in the Broncos’ first two Mountain West games and has been averaging 8.1 points in the 13 games since then. That includes 12 points on 5-for-8 shooting in last Saturday’s 92-72 win at Wyoming—and a steal and dunk that will go on the season highlight reel. Speaking of highlight reels, it’s kind of ironic that Anderson is now looking like the one we saw out of UC San Diego when he transferred to Boise State. He’s a facilitator on offense, distributing the ball, penetrating and hitting the occasional three. On defense, Anderson is a pest and has been helping set the tone. In his early Bronco days he struggled mightily from the field and was reluctant to finish at the rim. Roddie Anderson III has his confidence back.


Coach Colby Blaine summarized College of Idaho’s domination better than anyone Friday night after the Coyotes clinched the regular season Cascade Conference championship with a 78-59 win over Bushnell. The Yotes senior class had gone 92-7 over the past three seasons and 61-3 in CCC play. The group added one more win to each of those totals with an 88-46 rout of Corban on Saturday. I was at the Friday game and told the guy I was sitting with early in the second half—with C of I leading 41-37—to remember that score, because the game wasn’t going to be any closer the rest of the night. The defending national champions promptly went on a 15-0 run. That’s the way they roll. The Yotes open Cascade Conference Tournament play tonight against Northwest in the J.A. Albertson Activities Center.


The Idaho Steelheads wrapped a couple of victories around one of the worst defeats in franchise history last weekend. The 10-4 loss at Tulsa last Saturday did, in fact, mark the most goals ever allowed by the team. However, the Steelheads won 4-3 in overtime last Friday and bounced back for a 4-2 win on Sunday. Goaltender Jake Kielly, less than 24 hours after giving up six of those record-breaking goals, turned aside 28 of 30 Oilers attempts Sunday as Idaho got back on track. This week it’s a good, old-fashioned three-game series against the Utah Grizzlies as the two teams face off tonight, Friday and Saturday in Idaho Central Arena.


Every once in a while, you have to look up a PGA Tour event to figure out what it is. So it is with the Cognizant Classic in The Palm Beaches this week. I was not cognizant of what it used to be. Well, it’s the old Honda Classic, the tournament in Florida that typically follows the PGA Tour’s winter “West Coast Swing.” Those of you in the upper demographics may remember that this event was originally called Jackie Gleason’s Inverrary Classic in 1972. And former Boise State star Troy Merritt will tee off in it Thursday. Merritt did make the cut last week in the Mexico Open at Vidanta, tying for 58th and earning $18,630. More than what he made in his previous three stops (zero).


Boise State’s George Holani has his stage this week. Holani will be auditioning at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis and will go through testing with the rest of the running backs on Saturday. Prater & The Ballgame had former Atlanta running backs coach Gerald Brown on KTIK Monday. Brown, who was ironically on the Falcons staff when Koetter was offensive coordinator there, coached Holani in the Hula Bowl last month and said two things stood out: his football intelligence and his knack for playing the game. “He’s a football player,” said Brown. Holani’s had injury concerns during his career, and Brown said that will surely be a topic of discussion. But he said George was fully healthy at the Hula Bowl.

This Day In Sports…brought to you by BBSI BOISE…payroll, process and prosperity for your business.

February 28, 2019, five years ago today: Bryce Harper lands the richest contract in the history of North American sports to that point, a 13-year, $330 million deal with Philadelphia, ultimately choosing the Phillies over the Dodgers and Giants. Harper, 26 years old at the time, had played his first seven seasons with the Washington Nationals and was a six-time All-Star. He hit 42 home runs in 2015 and was named National League MVP, the youngest player ever to win the honor. Harper was NL Rookie of the Year in 2012. The highest-paid moniker lasted about three weeks—until Mike Trout landed his mega-deal with the L.A. Angels.

(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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