Monday, March 7, 2011

Bronco Gymnasts Ranked #13 This Week

(Click on story link to view the newest rankings.)

Lee Tabbed by WAC Office for Post-Season Honor

Boise State freshman Diana Lee has been named to the Western Athletic Conference All-Freshman team, according to the league office.  Lee averaged 6.6 points, 1.9 rebound and 3.1 assists per game for the Broncos.  It was the only post-season honor for the Lady Broncos.

Lee and Boise State will meet Idaho Wednesday in the opening round of the WAC Tournament.

2010-11 All-Western Athletic Conference Teams

First Team All-WAC
Ashlee Brown, Utah State, F
Adrienne Johnson, Louisiana Tech, F
Shavon Moore, Nevada, F
Tahnee Robinson, Nevada, G
Jaleesa Ross, Fresno State, G

Second Team All-WAC
Jasmine Bendolph, Louisiana Tech, G
Rosie Moult, Fresno State, G/F
Yinka Olorunnife, Idaho, F
Madison Spence, New Mexico State, G
Tarkeisha Wysinger-Mackey, Louisiana Tech, G

All-Defensive Team
Alice Coddington, Utah State, G
Adrienne Johnson, Louisiana Tech, F
Shavon Moore, Nevada, F
Yinka Olorunnife, Idaho, F
Tarkeisha Wysinger-Mackey, Louisiana Tech, G

All-Freshman Team
Kamilah Jackson, Hawai`i, F
Shawna-Lei Kuehu, Hawai`i, G
Diana Lee, Boise State, G
Jasmine Rutledge, New Mexico State, G
Taylor Thompson, Fresno State, G

Player of the Year:
 Adrienne Johnson, Louisiana Tech

Defensive Player of the Year:
 Shavon Moore, Nevada

Newcomer of the Year:
 Ashlee Brown, Utah State

Coach of the Year:
 Raegan Pebley, Utah State

No Broncos Added to Qualifying List for NCAA Track & Field Championships

Eetu Viitaala and Trevor Kraychir had hoped to get invitations to this week's NCAA Track & Field Championships.  The invitations never came.

Kurt Felix will be the sole representative of Boise State this weekend in the heptathlon.  His teammates now know what they must do to assure them a spot at the Outdoor Championships--set automatic qualifying marks.

Check out this blog for updates on how Felix is doing.

Zell Earns WAC Pitcher of the Week

I would hate to think she wouldn't after firing a no-hitter!

Boise State's Aubray Zell, who pitched the first no-hitter in school history (winning 12-0), was named today as the Western Athletic Conference as the Broncos' first-ever Pitcher of the Week.

I was being facetious above, but it almost didn't happen.  You see, earlier in the week, Hawai'i sophomore Kaia Parnaby threw a perfect game.  The WAC office did the appropriate thing and made them both Co-Pitchers of the Week.

Zell tied a career high with eight K's in the no-no.  The only base runner for Southern Utah reached on a dropped third strike.  Zell came back on Sunday and became the first Bronco pitch back-to-back shutouts, winning 2-0.  For the weekend, Zell pitched 12 innings with a 0.00 ERA, 15 strikeouts and no walks.

Congrats to Aubray for her sensational pitching over the weekend and for this award.

Five Things to Watch For From Bronco Spring Drills

Boise State is ready to open spring football practice with some unfinished business to take care of.  Coach Chris Petersen is opening the practice sooner than usual and instead spreading the practices out over a period of weeks.

Here are some things I’m looking for in Boise State’s spring practices:

  1. Chip on the shoulder—Boise State teams have always played their best when they feel like they have something to prove.  The collective “chip” can be formed by many factors—disrespect from someone like Craig James or Mark May, low ranking in the polls, and disappointment from a previous game or season.

It is this latter factor that I’d like to address.  We know James and May and the rest of their ilk will never be able to look at the college football landscape intelligently.  And getting college football voters to respect Boise State is a long, difficult process.  But what Boise State can control; it is in fact the only thing they can control, is how they play on the field.  I just basically paraphrased Coach Chris Petersen, who I think we can all agree is one of the top minds in college football right now.

Boise State no doubt has been watching and re-watching the Nevada loss last season, seeing how plays made or not made throughout the game greatly influenced the outcome, how tackling at the line of scrimmage sometimes is the only way to stop a touchdown, how making a key block is the difference between a tackle for loss and an amazing run.  The casual observer saw Bronco defensive players with their hands on their hips huffing and puffing.  Coach Pete denied the Bronco defense was tired.  But did he do that to honor Nevada’s victory and not make excuses?

In any case, the loss is there and it alone prevented Boise State from playing in the time-honored Rose Bowl.  Instead, the Broncos allowed TCU to play and defeat Wisconsin

So I am looking for concentration, intensity, focus and a serious and angry group of Broncos.  Anything short of that and I’ll be disappointed. 

  1. The emergence of talented young wide receivers—We all know what Austin Pettis and Titus Young meant to Boise State last year and over the last four years.  They simply were the best duo to ever play for the Broncos and the best duo in the nation last year.  The raves that both have received from their Senior Bowl experience and from the workouts at the NFL Combine are a testament not only to their tremendous athletic abilities but to the state-of-the-art techniques that the best coaches in the nation have used to develop both Pettis and Young.

I think I speak for most Bronco fans when I say that I was excited when I learned Kirby Moore was coming to Boise State.  The kid had video game-type statistics in high school.  I was excited when I found out about Geraldo Hiwat and Aaron Burks and Matt Miller.  I see athletic ability in those four young men that is not overshadowed in the least by the raw ability of Pettis & Young when they first stepped onto campus. 

With a quarterback like Kellen Moore, the four young talents mentioned above have an opportunity that very few receivers in the nation have.  If they get open, KM is going to get them the ball—that’s what he does.  Kellen has an uncanny ability to read defenses and to spot the open man.  The scary thing is that if he stays healthy (see #5 below); he is going to be better in his senior year because of three years of starting experience.

How fortunate the Bronco receivers are to be playing at the same time as Moore.  Kellen’s brother Kirby redshirted last year, presumably to prepare him for being a tight end.  Whatever position the coaches decide is best for Kirby, his great routes and hands (not to mention the special familiarity he has with the quarterback) make him a perfect possession receiver to replace Pettis.  That said, Kirby doesn’t have to “mimic” anyone to be successful.  Pettis is an incredible receiver with amazing leaping ability and sticky hands.  Kirby has his own unique set of skills that he brings to the table.

Geraldo Hiwat has learned much about football that he wasn’t able to acquire in The Netherlands.  But when he was one of the highlights of the 2009 recruiting class, Bronco fans saw great raw talent—the speed of Titus Young and the leaping ability of Austin Pettis.  But Hiwat has something those gifted receivers did not—6’4” size.  To be able to accomplish what the 2010 Broncos could not do, go undefeated and play in the BCS National Championship Game, Offensive Coordinator Brent Pease needs a breakout year from a receiver.  Hiwat very well could be that guy.

Aaron Burks was one of the first great talents to flow from Boise State’s Texas recruiting pipeline.  Pease of course had established great connections with the high school coaches in Texas when he coached at Baylor and he brought those connections with him to Boise State.  Given that Pease saw something special in Burks when he recruited him to be a Bronco, one would think that Pease will showcase that ability this fall.  Burks is about the size of Pettis (6’2”) but he has great speed and can also go up and get a football.

That brings us to Matt Miller, the 6’3” target that had coaches all over the country (with offers from Arkansas, North Carolina, Stanford, Oregon and Oregon State just to name a few) salivating.  But Boise State is the school that landed him and if he can learn the complex Bronco offense and adjust to the speed of the college game, one would think he will see the field often this fall.  Miller isn’t going to burn you with speed like Young but fans will note that his 4.5 40 time is exactly that of Burks—that tells us that he’s going to be great for yards after the catch.  Miller has football focus, a great combination of route-running, concentration and great hands. 

So I’m looking for a breakout year from at least one of the four.  One or more of that quartet has to step forward for Boise State to reach its goals.

  1. The third thing I’m looking for is a defensive line that exceeds the performance of the 2010 Broncos.  Yes, I know what I just said.  The Boise State defensive line last year was the best to ever play at the school.  But the Broncos have not climbed the ladder to the top yet—something happened on the way there.  Clearly they need better play, and that fact was crystal clear in the Nevada game.  When the play needed to be made in the second half to halt Wolf Pack momentum, it was not made.  The group not only needs to be aggressive and play smart for two-three quarters or for 10 games; Boise State needs all-out monsters to wreak havoc for all four quarters of all 12 games this season. 

Boise State lost one of its best-ever defensive ends in Ryan Winterswyk, but there is plenty of talent in the wings. I expect Tyrone Crawford to step into that role nicely.  Although Crawford did not start or even play two quarters in a given game, he still finished the 2010 campaign as Boise State's 10th-leading tackler (32) with 13.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks as just a sample of what he can accomplish in a full-time role.  Crawford’s coach, defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski, made a name for himself with aggressiveness, sure tackling ability, and an outstanding motor.  Suffice it to say that Pete K. is looking for the same in Crawford.  For offensive linemen not familiar with him, Crawford will shock them with his quickness off the ball and at 6’4”, 276; Crawford has the size and strength to manhandle his opponent. 

But one of the strengths of last season was that Kwiatkowski had the luxury of substituting at will on the defensive line without losing anything in terms of shear talent and ability.  So just as at least one wide receiver needs to step up, one of the talented young defensive lineman has to do the same.  Kharyee Marshall, Nick Alexander, Robert Ash and Samuel Ukwuachu form the talent pool to accomplish just that.  Marshall will not participate in spring drills I am told.  Normally new recruits like Ash and Ukwuachu would redshirt.  But Coach Petersen has been clear that he wants to even out the recruiting classes and that means playing a good deal of the 2011 recruits.  I suspect that if Kwiatkowski isn’t “wowed” by what he sees, the Broncos will not hesitate to utilize Ash and/or Ukwuachu. 

Ash has good foot speed and an unstoppable motor, two qualities that are tailor-made for being a great defensive end.  He still needs to work on his range and needs work in the weight room.  But Boise State has always placed more emphasis on speed and quickness from its defensive linemen and Ash certainly fits the bill there.  Oregon State, UCLA and Washington are three of the many schools that Ash turned down in favor of Boise State.

Ukwuachu (6-5, 210) is smaller than Ash and likely isn’t ready yet until Strength and Conditioning Coach Tim Socha releases him from the weight room.  But Ukwuachu has good speed and quickness that Boise State needs and if it is not provided by upperclassmen, he’ll be there.

Kharyee Marshall has already begun to exhibit the talent that he brings to the position, both in spring games and on the scout team.  Marshall runs a 4.6 40 and has incredible acceleration and closing ability.  He would have been excellent in running down (Nevada quarterback Colin) Kaepernick last year.

Nick Alexander has made great strides since first coming to the Bronco program in 2009.  Besides the full-out attack to the ball carrier, Alexander has bloodlines—he is the grandson of NFL Hall of Famer Carl Eller.

Again at least one of those four young prospects must seize the opportunity that is there this fall for Boise State to have an outstanding season.  Justin Jungblut, Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe and Michael Atkinson are others that must work their way into the defensive line rotation at tackle. 

  1. Clutch field goal kicking—unfortunately for Boise State, one of their only weaknesses was exposed last year at a time when they could not afford it.  So the Bronco coaching staff brought in strong-legged and highly-acclaimed placekicker Jake Van Ginkel.  Van Ginkel’s 39 career field goals at Upland High School (California) were a state record.  Van Ginkel only missed two field goals under 40 yards, he converted several in pressure situations, and, on kicks of 58 and 59 yards, he split the uprights with room to spare.

So I’ll be watching Van Ginkel to see this great talent for myself.

  1. The teamwork and consistency of the offensive line—As Kellen Moore goes, so will go the Broncos.  He is poised to have a great senior year but a lot of what Kellen can do for an offense is dependent upon the solid play of the guys up front.  There isn’t any reason to think the Bronco line, which only loses two starters, cannot continue to protect Moore the way they have done in the last three years.  Nonetheless, it is an area to watch because it is vital to Boise State’s success.  We are aware that defense is always ahead of offense in the spring.  We also know that Boise State’s defensive line will be one of the most challenging the Bronco offensive line will face this season.  But, with Georgia looming as the season opener, the offensive line has to be ready from the start of spring practice and then go full steam ahead into September.

So there are five key areas to watch this fall.  I will be evaluating the team primarily considering those factors to determine how the 2011 Boise State team measures up.

Boise State Biology Professor Julia Oxford Part of Breakthrough Bone Study

Julia Oxford, a biology professor and director of the Biomolecular Research Center at Boise State, helped discover a key mechanism in the way in which bones build and maintain strength and elasticity.  Findings of the study are published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.  The discovery could have a significant impact in treating osteoporosis and other diseases that can lead to decreased bone mineral contact and could provide a blueprint for improving methods of preserving bone strength with age.
A collaborative group of researchers conducted the study, including Oxford and led by Jeff Gorski, a professor of oral biology at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.  Oxford explained that mineralization is the process that contributes to the strength and hardness of bone, whereby calcium phosphate crystals produced by bone-forming cells accumulate in the fibrous protein matrix that is the scaffolding of the bone itself.
“We found that mineralization depends on a specific enzyme called SKI-1, though it is just one of several proteins we’re looking at that play important roles in essential biological mechanisms,” she said. “Our growing understanding of these mechanisms could have significant implications in helping clinicians monitor bone health as well as diagnose and treat debilitating bone diseases.”
By studying bone cells isolated in culture dishes, researchers in the collaborative study demonstrated that the deactivation of SKI-1 means bone mineralization cannot occur. They alternatively observed that if the actions of SKI-1 are stimulated, more mineralization takes place, triggering production of the proteins that form the bone’s mineralized matrix. Scientists may be able to use such enzyme regulation to stimulate bone formation after fracture.

Boise State students of biology and chemistry are active in Oxford's research that provides a tremendous learning opportunity.  Those students are Ben Davis, Stephanie Frahs, Anthony Hafez, Jon Reeck, Luke Woodbury, Bryan Martin, Chris Mallory and Dawn Mikelonis.
Boise State recently received a $750,000 NASA EPSCoR grant that will support a related project by Oxford (at right in photo) in collaboration with Boise State biology professors Cheryl Jorcyk, Troy Rohn and Kristen Mitchell.   
Since 2007, the Idaho State Board of Education has contributed $1 million to Boise State for the formation of the Musculoskeletal Research Institute, co-directed by Oxford and biomedical engineering professor Michelle Sabick.
“We have been working to grow musculoskeletal research strength in Idaho, and the State Board is providing crucial infrastructure,” Oxford said.

Boise State Research and Intellectual Property to be Showcased Thursday

If you have followed Boise State only on the Blue Turf, you have missed the boat.
Thanks to the vision of President Bob Kustra and the work of Vice President for Research Mark Rudin, growth and excellence on the academic side of Boise State has at least kept pace with the growth of the football team and perhaps surpassed it.  
As research and external support continue to swell at Boise State, local industry and the broader community are invited to a unique showcase called Research Revealed.  The program begins Thursday, March 10 at 3 in the Stueckle Sky Center and will provide an unprecedented look inside Boise State's intellectual property portfolio and related technology transfer opportunities.  The event is free and open to the public--please see below for details as registration is required.

Rudin will give a welcome address, followed by short presentations featuring faculty with patents issued or pending for their discoveries and inventions.  Program participants are then welcome to network with Boise State faculty researchers and discover potential in the following sectors:

  • Biotechnology
  • Consumer and Industrial Electronics
  • Equipment Manufacturing
  • Environmental Engineering, Monitoring and Remediation
  • Green Products and Renewable Energy
  • Health and Medical Devices
  • Mining
  • Transportation
“Boise State has a vested interest in the economic future of the Treasure Valley and Idaho, and we hope to cultivate many more partnerships with community roots,” said Office of Technology Transfer (OTT) Director Mary Givens. “At Research Revealed, potential partners will hear vital statistics from the OTT’s first annual report on research activities and efforts to translate them into commercial impacts.”
The event steering committee includes industry experts Don Bush, Lloyd Mahaffey, Rick Ritter, Michelle Travis, Mark Winkler and Ed Zimmer. Expanding that connection between the marketplace and the research bench is the purpose of Research Revealed.
“Research Revealed represents a great opportunity for entrepreneurs and companies to meet and network directly with leading researchers who are creating and discovering potential solutions for today’s and tomorrow’s problems,” said Ritter, president/CEO for statewide innovation incubator Idaho TechConnect.
Zimmer, recently retired from his role as CEO of Boise-based manufacturer ECCO Group, currently serves as the OTT’s first executive in residence and as a member of its advisory board. Having taken a closer look at intellectual property generated by Boise State faculty, he said it deserves recognition.

“The business community and general public would be pleased and impressed to learn of the groundbreaking research that is happening on campus these days." Zimmer said. “Boise State research has already drawn the attention of organizations such as NASA and the U.S. Air Force and companies in sectors ranging from biotech to natural resource management. Local companies and entrepreneurs will not want to miss this opportunity to learn more and take the next step.”
To register for Research Revealed or for more information, contact Lyn Moore at or (208) 426-5727.

Boise State Cheerleaders Win National Title

The Boise State Cheer Squad won the USA Collegiate Cheerleading Championship for the third time in the last four years.  The Bronco cheerleaders captured the title in the Division I-A small coed category, an honor they won in 2008 and 2010.  Boise State also placed third in 2009.
Photo courtesy of Boise State cheerleading - The BSU cheer team poses with its championship trophy after winning the national title in Anaheim, Calif., last week.
“The group spent many hours working on difficult skills to showcase in the routine, plus had some fun and entertaining parts that brought cheers and applause from the audience,” said head coach Julie Stevens. “They represented Boise State, the city of Boise and the state of Idaho well, and I am very proud of their accomplishments. Go Broncos!”

Boise State One of 20 CUDA Research Centers in the World

Boise State was recently named as one of 20 Compute Unified Device Architecture (CUDA) Research Centers worldwide by NVIDIA, a world leader in visual and parallel computing using graphics processing units.

Boise State was recognized for its groundbreaking work in parallel computing.  Boise State is the only school in the Northwest and one of only eight in the nation that was designated for the Research Center.  Boise State is in the company of United States universities such as Clemson, Johns Hopkins and UCLA, as well as 12 international research centers, including Technische Universitat Munchen in Germany and Nanyang University in Singapore.

Graphics processing units (GPU's) are increasingly being used by leading software developers and researchers to dramatically increase the processing of a wide range of computationally intensive data.  Boise State was one of the early users of the technology for both research and teaching and the CUDA designation aligns Boise State with the other top technical institutions that are using GPU computing to solve the most challenging computational problems.

"From world-changing scientific discoveries to commercial products that impact our everyday lives, the potential of this area of technology cannot be overstated," said Boise State Vice President for Research Mark Rudin.  "To be recognized as a leader in developing that potential demonstrates Boise State's commitment to drive innovation that is shaping the future."

Applications for acceptance into the CUDA Research Center Program were evaluated based on the quality of current GPU research, the vision presented for furthering the application and technology of GPU computing and the opportunity for broad impact.  Several distinguished faculty from Boise State are responsible for landing the prestigious honor.  Inanc Senocak is the principal investigator and assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering.  Tim Andersen (Dept. of Computer Science), Hans-Peter Marshall (Dept. of Geosciences), Jodi Mead (co-principal investigators professor) and Grady Wright (Dept. of Mathematics) also were key contributors to the proposal.

"GPU computing with CUDA has tremendously advanced Boise State research projects in numerical simulations of mantle convection, wind energy forecasting, remote sensing of snow depths for water resources, threat reduction in chemical and biological defense, and DNA sequencing for forensics," Senocak said.  "Our vision is to develop and apply advanced numerical methods and computational algorithms to applications in science and engineering and broaden GPU computing research in modeling and simulation."

Parallel computing is a form of computation in which many calculations are carried out simultaneously, operating on the principle that complex problems can often be divided into smaller ones, which are then solved concurrently or "in parallel".  

To learn more about the CUDA Research Center program, click on the story link.

Bronco Women's Golfers at Fresno State Classic

The 2010 Boise State women's golf team had a rough go of it, finishing next to last in the Western Athletic Conference Championships.

But Nicole Harris is in her fourth year at the helm and, now that she has the recruits that she wants, this is the year that things are supposed to turn around.  Coach Harris takes her team to the Fresno State Classic today to compete against 15 other teams.

The Classic golfers will play 36 holes today and another 18 tomorrow.  It will be the first indication of where the Broncos stand in the WAC, as host Fresno State and Nevada will also be there.

These are the GolfStat rankings going into the tournament:

#18  UC Davis
#91  Portland State
#100 UC Irvine
#104 Kansas State
#107 UTEP
#120 Santa Clara
#121 Nevada
#124 San Francisco
#132 Boise State
#147 UC Riverside
#149 Fresno State
#153 Cal Poly
#157 Sacramento State
#167 Cal State Fullerton
#183 Portland
#200 Seattle