Friday, January 28, 2011

#15 Boise State Gymnasts Lose to #32 Arizona

Ouch. The talented, experienced Boise State gymnastics team took on a lesser opponent tonight and lost. It wasn't even particularly close, with the Wildcats of Arizona winning 195.375 to 194.400.

Now you can say that winning individual meets don't matter, but inside, if you don't think you are as good as the #32 team in the nation, you're certainly not going to get to #12, which has been the stated goal of Boise State for over a decade. In this sport in which stress is high and meets are decided by tenths of a point, confidence is everything. I'll be updating this with complete results, and I have a feature story planned on Boise State's quest for the Nationals.

Great Start for Broncos in Multi-Events

Boise State Head Track and Field Coach J.W. Hardy could not have asked for a better start in the Jackson's Invitational, which kicked off today in Nampa. Kurt Felix had a great first day in the heptathlon as he jumped out to the early lead. Alexi Morton captured second place in the pentathlon, just edged out by BYU's Mindy Robins.

Felix won the long jump with a leap of 7.46 meters, took first in the shot (13.49m) and finished second in the 60-meters. Felix has accumulated 2,452 points in three events. BYU's Phillip Bettis is a distant second with 2,225 points while Eastern Washington's THomas Kassa has 2,175.

Morton scored 927 points in the 60-meter hurdles, running a solid 8.92. She followed that with a 1.56-meter high jump, good for 689 points and scored 554 in the shot put when she heaved it 10.38 meters. Morton recorded a long jump of 5.26 (631 points) and closed out the day with a 2:36.72 in the 800-meters (611 points). BYU's Mindy Robins won the event with 3,573 points while Kathryn Barnitz of Eastern Washington scored 2,995.

The student-athletes hit the track bright and early tomorrow, with the second day of competition beginning at 9 a.m. at Jackson's Track. A full slate of action is on tap, including high schools as well.

Big Weekend Ahead for Broncos

As is usually the case this time of year, it's a busy sports weekend for Boise State. Several teams will be in action jockeying for position in the WAC as well as the national rankings.

The Bronco track team is already in action at Jackson's Track. Take off early and go support the team in the Jackson's Invitational. Action continues through tonight and tomorrow. The first event tomorrow is at 9 a.m.

The Boise State gymnastics team needs to make a road statement, and they'll have an opportunity to do that tonight against #32 Arizona. The #3 Bronco wrestling team takes on Stanford in Palo Alto tonight at 7 and then meets up with #20 Oregon State Sunday. Oregon State is the team that dethroned Boise State by two points in last year's Pac-10 Championships.

The men's tennis team faces #12 Kentucky in the Indoor Tennis Championships. It isn't often that you get such an opportunity to prove the experts wrong. I remember back in 2001, the Boise State football team saw Fresno State's #8 national ranking, didn't let that affect them, and came away with a landmark win. We all know what has happened since. If the men's tennis team has any ambitions of matching the success of the football team, it starts with a win over Kentucky.

The women's tennis team also is in action in the Indoor Tennis Championships facing Nebraska in the opening match.

Plus, the women's basketball team hosts perennial power Louisiana Tech Saturday night at Taco Bell Arena, while the men's teak is on the road in Ruston to face the Bulldogs.

Paging Paul Noonan, Mr. Paul Noonan to the Free-Throw Line, Please

We've all seen those players on opposing teams that drive the lane, go up for a shot, get fouled and make free throw after free throw. Often they'll go 12-15 or some like number from the line. That kind of free-throw shooting can devastate an opponent. The player, knowing he can shoot free throws with the best of them, intentionally tries to draw contact so that they can earn points for the team and win the game.

Boise State has one of those players currently on the Bronco roster. In fact, he very well could be the best free-throw shooter in the 43-year history of Boise State basketball. Few realize it, because there is this slight problem. He never shoots free throws!

Unlike the players mentioned above that drive us crazy if they are on the other team, this player hits over 84 percent of his shots, and yet, alas, is probably not going to have enough attempts to qualify for the school record. Noonan's career percentage would obliterate the existing 81.8% mark of former great Chris Childs, a record that has stood for 22 years.

The opposition, of course, loves this. If you can keep a weapon like that off the free-throw line, you have a much better chance to win. The player who has a career free-throw percentage better than any other is Paul Noonan. While Noonan is a good three-point shooter, teams will give him that shot all night rather than put him on the line where they know he's most likely to score two points. Even the best three-point shooters hit a little better than 1/3 of their shots. Those odds are far preferable to an 84% shooter on the free-throw line.

Most highly accurate free-throw shooters try to get to the line to take advantage of their abilities. It appears that Noonan's great talent will go largely unnoticed, because he averages under two attempts per game, the minimum required to break the school record. That's unfortunate, not only for Noonan but more important for the Boise State team, because they do not get to receive the benefits of this talented free-throw shooter.

2 Losses for Bronco Basketball Teams

The consistency still isn't there for Boise State basketball in either gender. The Bronco men's team fell to New Mexico State 96-87 in overtime while the women lost on their home court 87-71 to the Aggies.

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