Monday, March 14, 2011

Blog Highlights

Be sure to check out the tab "Blog Highlights" at the top of the page regularly.  It contains the top stories on this blog.  The page contains story titles with links to the stories.  Click on one to pull up the article.

NCAA Wrestling First-Day Projections

Wrestling fans everywhere are getting excited about the upcoming 2011 NCAA Championships that begin Thursday in Philadelphia.  As promised in my earlier story, here are my projections for the team leaders at the end of Thursday's morning session.  This guide will help track the team scores to see which teams are performing better than expected and which are falling short.

I'm basing this on the seedings that came out, the first-round matchups and propensity to score bonus points.  Boise State should get seven first-round winners but Iowa, Cornell and Penn State get ahead by virtue of bonus points.

1.  Iowa 24
2.  Cornell 22
3.  Penn State 20
4.  Minnesota 18
5.  Oklahoma State 17
6.  Boise State 15
7.  Nebraska 14
8.  Lehigh 12
9.  Wisconsin 10.5
10.  Oklahoma 10
10.  Rutgers 10
12.  American 9
13.  Binghampton 8
13.  Hofstra 8
13.  Iowa State 8
13.  Oregon State 8
13.  Penn 8
13.  Stanford 8

Bronco Softball Team Takes Two From Albany

Chalk up two more for the suddenly-hot Boise State softball team.

The Lady Broncos won their 12th in a row and the dominant pitching of the team continues to pay dividends.  Boise State took a doubleheader from Albany 6-3 and 8-1 yesterday at the Santa Clara Bronco Classic.

Albany ended Boise State’s scoreless innings streak at 41, but it didn’t happen until the seventh inning of the opener when they scored their three runs.  Junior Aubray Zell has become a force for Coach Erin Thorpe, pitching seven innings in a game that included a 12-strikeout performance  to get her fourth win of the season.  Zell had a no-hitter going into the fifth inning and she didn’t walk a batter.

The top of the Bronco lineup is really getting it done and that group was responsible for Boise State’s first two runs.  Kellie Caplan and Holly Bourke began the game with singles and moved up on an illegal pitch.  Allie Crump drove in Caplan with a sacrifice fly and freshman Devon Bridges came through with an RBI single to score Bourke.  Bridges has reached base safely in all 12 games of the winning streak.

Bridges’ two-out double just inside the left field line scored Bourke and Tazz Weatherly in the third.  Bridges was also part of sixth-inning scoring when she and Crump singled.  Vanessa Alvarez plated Crump and Bridges scored on Kelly Sweeney’s groundout.

Ashley Collier began the seventh on the mound but got into a bases loaded jam so Zell returned to close the game.  Bridges finished with a career-high three hits and also drove in three.

Crump picked up where Zell left off in the nightcap, breaking Aubray’s short-lived school record with an amazing 14 K’s.  Crump sent 12 of the first 15 batters to the bench as victims of a strikeout and registered her sixth complete game and ninth win of the year. 

Boise State broke on top in the bottom of the first thanks to an Albany error that allowed Caplan to score from second base.  Christina Capobianco sent a shot to center to score Weatherly in the third and Sweeney doubled to left center to place Crump to give Boise State a 3-0 lead.  Crump found the bases loaded in the fifth but worked out of it with just one unearned run scoring.
Sweeney came through with two more RBI’s to ignite a five-run Bronco fifth.  Bourke was again a key part with a two-run double. 

The Broncos will be tested next week at the Judi Garman Classic against Arizona Penn State, Washington and host Cal State Fullerton.

Bronco Gymnasts Vault Higher in Individual Rankings

With an all-around score that matched her career high, Boise State's Amy Glass is now 10th in the national standings with an average of 39.248.  Amy has put herself in position to win the NCAA Regional.  Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs of UCLA (39.307) and Oregon State's Leslie Mak (39.113).

Teammate Hailey Gaspar, who has just been performing tremendously, is now 10th in the nation in the vault.  She is tied with Oregon State's Britney Ranzy (9.895) for second best in the West to UCLA's Tauny Frattone (9.905).  For Boise State to be a team factor, the Broncos must have 2-3 gymnasts ranked high in each discipline and unfortunately, #24 Hannah Redmon (9.875) is the next closest.

Redmon is 15th on bars (9.880), but Oregon State's Olivia Vivian is first with a Regional Qualifying Score of 9.915.  And, there are no other Broncos close.  Glass owns an RQS of 9.870 to place 11th on the balance beam while Hopfner-Hibbs is #1 and the next Bronco is all the way back at #64.  Redmon is 7th this week in floor exercises (9.886) but another Pac-10 student-athlete, Stanford's Ashley Morgan, is #1 with a 9.925.  This appears to be Boise State's best event with Glass #20 with a 9.870.

The floor is the only competition in which Boise State has two top 20 competitors.

Boise State Gymnasts Remain at #13

As hinted earlier on Blue Through and Through, even though Boise State scored 197 points yesterday afternoon, it wasn't good enough to move up in the national rankings.  The Broncos come in at #13 again.

This is because this time of year, the scores for all the teams go up and Boise State's 197, while tying a school record, is just "run of the mill" at this point.  The Broncos are coming together as a team and achieving more scores above 9.8.  All of that bodes well for the team in the postseason.  While you can't have any falls, you certainly cannot approach the championships in that fashion.  The only way to succeed is to perform confidently and flawlessly.  It is more important to drop something out of the routine that you aren't sure about than to attempt it and fail.

Click on the story title for this week's rankings.

I'm Proud of the Broncos

Boise State's basketball team couldn't quite beat the #17 team in the nation, but the way they scratched and clawed right to the end did them proud.

I kept thinking during the game, "They're just making too many mistakes."  Even with those, they hung right with Utah State in the WAC Championship game.  They fell behind by 12 points twice, once in each half, yet rallied to make it a ball game again.  Just when Utah State was ready to bury them (as they have numerous teams), the Broncos battled back with so much heart.  I was so impressed with the heady play of freshmen Ryan Watkins and Jeff Elloriaga--that's the future of Bronco basketball.  And La'Shard Anderson grew by leaps and bounds this year.  He was never the type of player he is this year.

That would be due to one Leon Rice, who guided Boise State to a 20-win season in his initial year.  That's not only the best debut season in school history but one of the top performances in the entire WAC for a first-year coach.  With just a few weeks of quality recruiting time after being hired, Rice secured some good talent and with the help of some quality assistants, made the returning players better.  Yes, the future of Bronco basketball is fine indeed.

But this year's Bronco basketball team displayed qualities that make us all proud and set an example of what can be accomplished when you work as a team.

Bronco Gymnasts Tie School Record in Sacramento

The good news is that Boise State's gymnastics team tied a school record yesterday in winning the Sacramento State triangular, posting a team score of 197.050.  Host Sacramento State had 195.075 while UC Davis earned a score of 194.175.  The Broncos clinched the Western Athletic Conference regular season title with the victory.

The bad news is that the other top teams from around the nation are scoring 197 and above, so Boise State likely will not move up in the national rankings.

The Lady Broncos set season-bests in all four events, recording the second best vault score in school history (49.375) and the seventh-best bars score of 49.250.  Boise State also landed a 49.450 on floor and a 48.975 on beam.

Boise State advanced to 12-3 on the season and 5-0 in the WAC.

Hannah Redmon competed in all four events yesterday, something I said needed to happen for Boise State to have a chance to reach Nationals.  Redmon and Amy Glass tied for all-around with 39.50 scores each.  Glass also won beam (9.850) while Redmon was the bars champion with a 9.925.  Hailey Gaspar captured her fourth vault championship and Kelsey Black gave an amazing performance to win the floor with a career-best 9.925.

"This team knows no limits," said co-head coach Tina Bird.  "They were on fire today and I could not be more proud."

Glass was second to Redmon on bars with a 9.90.  Brittany Potvin-Green (9.850) and Lindsay Kazandjian (9.825) were the other Broncos to top 9.8 on the apparatus.  Bekah Gher scored an even 9.8 on beam while five Broncos joined Black with scores over 9.8 on floor, the type of performance the team will need in every event if they are serious about competing with the top teams in the nation.  Gaspar, Glass and Redmon each scored 9.9, while Kelsey Lang earned a 9.825 and Sarah Smith scored 9.8.  Redmon was second on vault with a score of 9.90, Amanda Otuafi landed a 9.875, Glass scored 9.850 and Black and Potvin-Green each posted 9.825's.

Boise State must now go out and prove their WAC title in the postseason championship next Saturday.  San Jose State will host the event set for 8 p.m. Mountain Time.