Thursday, April 2, 2009

I only recognize one 5:30 generally....

...and the morning one usually isn't it, but with football practice getting canceled for Thursday,a nd with Monster Trucks coming in Friday morning, ISU will practice inside of Holt Arena on Friday, April 3, 2009 at 5:30 am. Also a change, the team will practice on Saturday at 10:00 am on the South Practice Field, as well as Sunday at 3:00 pm.

5:30 am means I'm getting up at 4:30 am ... and I was hoping to watch the ER finale tonight....thankfully, I have DVR!

Bengal Potpouri

A little bit of this and that from BengalBlog Land:

Congratulations to incoming Idaho State women's basketball recruit Morgan Wohltman (left), who was named to the Arizona Republic's All-Arizona first-team. The 5-11 guard from Gilbert, Arizona earned all-state honors for the second year in a row, after leading her team to back-to-back Arizona large-school state championships.

Joining Wohltman on the first-team was a future opponent, Amy Patton, a 5-9 point guard who has signed with Northern Arizona. Patton of McClintock was named the Player of the Year over Wohltman. That should lead to a nice rivalry over the next four years.

Speaking of incoming Bengal recruits, Shannon Byrne, a 6-3 forward from Puyallup, Wash., had a nice senior season, averaging 13.5 points, 7 rebounds and 2.6 blocks a game. Kaela Oakes, a 5-5 point guard from Chandler, Ariz. averaged 9.2 points, 2.9 assists and 2.2 steals in her senior season. I couldn't find any stats on 6-1 Ashleigh Vella, the 6-1 forward from Australia, and ISU's other early signing.

The late signing period for both men's and women's basketball begins April 15. The ISU men have an open scholarship now that guard Kal Bay has decided to leave the program. Before Bay's announcement, Bengal coach Joe O'Brien said he was looking in the junior college ranks for a point guard, potentially as a walk-on for one season, if necessary. That apparently won't be necessary now. The women, meanwhile, are looking to add one high school player and one JUCO this spring.

Before leaving the topic of women's basketball entirely, the St. Louis Post Dispatch has an excellent article on their website ( about the problem of ACL tears in women's basketball. It features a photo of Montana's Mandy Morales with both knees iced up, and points out that women's basketball players are three to six times more likely to suffer ACL tears than their male counterparts. ISU's Chelsea Pickering was felled by an ACL tear this past season.

Our Deepest Condolences to a Member of the Bengal Family

On a sad note, our thoughts and prayers go out to former Bengal Edgar Malepeai and his family on the passing of Edgar's wife Brenda this week. Edgar played football and rugby at Idaho State in the 1970s, and has been a Big Sky football official for many years, in addition to serving as a State Senator. Brenda is a former professor at ISU. She had been battling cancer for the last several years. Hang in there, Edgar, we're all thinking of you and your family.

Well, That's One Lumberjack We Won't Have to Worry About

Bengal fans have been disappointed twice by running back Deonte Williams -- first, when he turned down an Idaho State scholarship offer to play for Northern Arizona; and then when he ran over, around and through the Bengal defense last fall for 194 yards and three touchdowns. Williams was named the Big Sky Newcomer of the Year, but he won't be adding to those accolades this season -- according to the Arizona Daily Sun, Williams has transferred out of the NAU program. No indication where he will wind up.

Kudos to the Cub

Most of you have already seen the excellent posts on the ISU Bengal Message Board (disclaimer: the message board is NOT officially linked to Idaho State University) by BengalCub, who has been interviewing incoming ISU football recruits. It's really been fun getting to know these kids on a more personal basis. There are a lot of holes to fill on the Bengal roster and we're all looking forward to many of these young men filling them come next fall. Thanks, Cub, for taking the initiative.

--Brad B.

And thanks for being Bengal fans -- it ain't always easy, but it's always fun.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Big Sky Cost-Savings Initiatives Begin

The Big Sky Conference announced two cost savings initiatives today, with more apparently on the way following conference meetings in May. The conference announced it is canceling its annual football Summer Kickoff in Park City, Utah, a gathering of coaches, league officials and the media that has been an institution for 25 years.

The Big Sky also announced that league volleyball matches will be played on a Friday-Saturday format (with the exception of trips that include Northern Arizona), a change from the current Thursday-Saturday set-up, and a likely foreshadowing of the conference moving men's and women's basketball to Friday-Saturday schedules. That, along with several other cost-savings proposals, will be voted on at the league's spring meetings May 18-20 in Salt Lake City.

Also expected to be adopted during those meetings are reductions in the number of teams that make the postseason men's and women's basketball tournaments, from 6 to 4; an elimination of the post-season conference soccer tournament; and a reduction in the traveling parties for basketball teams.

Editor's (Frank's) Note: Just a couple of added things here. While volleyball is moving to Friday-Saturday, men's and women's basketball will not change from Thursday-Saturday at this time. Also, while all of those things are options at the May 18-20 meetings, saying that those things are expected to be adopted is probably inaccurate. They might very well be adopted, but I don't think it's a given, based on the things that I'm hearing. It'll be interesting for sure.

Thanks Frank, you are certainly closer to the "pulse" than I. We shall all stay tuned.--BB

--Brad B.

Monday, March 30, 2009

What To Watch During Spring Football

I will admit it, I don't usually pay much attention to spring football. You're usually playing with a depleted roster, running very limited offenses and defenses, and with minimal contact. Besides that, "spring" in Idaho just isn't very conducive to outside activity, and it doesn't feel like football season.

But this year is different. There are so many changes in the ISU football program, and a lot of intriguing subplots to spring football this year. Here are a few things I'll be paying attention to as spring drills begin tomorrow:

--At the top of the list, of course, is the quarterback competition between Kyle Blum, who was the starter at the end of last season, and Russel Hill, who held the title for most of the year. Even though both will be operating within a limited offense under new coordinator Brian Jensen (above), the first scrimmage, now scheduled for April 11, and the spring game, set for the following week, will be great stages for these two competitors.

--What will we learn about Jensen's vision for the Bengal offense in this, his first public appearance since he succeeded the deposed Mike Orthmann as offensive coordinator? We know that the limited time and reps usually result in the fans seeing 50 percent or less of a team's offense in the spring scrimmages. But hopefully Brian will give us some hints of what to expect based on the areas of emphasis this spring.

--Whither the offensive line? The Bengals return four starters to the O-line, so under normal circumstances, you'd consider that to be an area of strength. But the one opening on the line is the key left tackle slot. Who will take over for Evan Dietrich-Smith, at least until junior college reinforcements arrive in the fall? And tutoring the line is Mike Havens, who inherits the coaching position from Orthmann who, despite the criticism of his play calling philosophy, did an admirable job building an offensive line. What will the former Bengal lineman Havens bring to this new assignment?

--What will new defensive line coach Joe Cullen, fresh from the National Football League, contribute to a position that was so over-matched last season? And what will touted redshirts Jake Rouser and Mykel Durr offer to the position?

--Will Keith Goins, who struggled in the defensive backfield, use his obvious athleticism to shine on the offensive side of the football, where he has moved to wide receiver?

--Who else will carry the football this spring, with returning starter Clint Knickrehm recovering from wrist surgery, and redshirt freshman Ben Laporta the only returning squad member at the position? Walk-on Ethan Monroe is the only other player listed at that position right now.

--A late addition to this post: another area that bears scrutiny is the kicking game. Both placekicker Mike Ramos, who was 9 of 11 in field goals after taking over for an erratic Jarret Huk; and long snapper Chris Kirkegaard have left the program. Finding reliable replacements for both will be a priority.

Bengal Burns

Former Idaho State defensive back Ernie James picked off a pass and returned it 40 yards for a touchdown and had six tackles for the Boise Burn, who won their opener over Tri-Cities, 48-15, in an Indoor Football League game last week. Ex-ISU defensive tackle Mark Weivoda had one tackle for the Burn.

Football Recruit Wins Basketball Honor

Colter Reeves, who signed a football letter of intent with Idaho State as a defensive end, gave us a look at his athleticism when he was named the State 2A basketball player of the year by the Idaho Statesman this weekend. Reeves, who led Firth to three straight state basketball championships, was the repeat player of the year after averaging 12 points and six rebounds a game for the Cougars. Kamiah coach Ryan Ball called the 6-3, 215-pounder "a physical menance. He dares you to stop him and most of the time, teams don't."

--Brad B.

And thanks for being a Bengal fan -- it ain't always easy, but it's always fun.

Home Improvement

I'm back from vacation, and I'm in sweats and stuff int he office at 1:15 pm because I'm about to paint. I'll try to get some pictures for you, but I pose this little riddle....why would I have 12 4x8 boards, two storage tote bins, two eight foot shelving screens, two brackets, 8 carriage bolts, more wood screws then you can imagine (1 1/4 inch and 2 1/2 inch both), an exacto knife, stencils with letters and numbers, 10 gallons of black paint, two cans of yellow spray paint, six cans of white spray paint, and six 8-foot cedar posts? Oh, and 100 zip ties....can't forget the zip ties.....

All try to get pictures of this project along the way....gotta find the disk for the camera.

Also, remember with spring practice starting tomorrow (spring....ha!) any practice time changes will be posted here as well as on the main site, so be alert (the world needs more lerts)...