DATE: Saturday; Jan. 14, 2012
TIME: 4 p.m. (MT)
LOCATION: Boise, Idaho / Taco Bell Arena (12,480)
TV: The Mtn.
RADIO: Bronco Sports Network / BroncoSports.com
THE GAME: The Boise State men’s basketball team will play its first conference game as a member of the Mountain West, hosting Air Force Saturday (Jan. 14) at Taco Bell Arena. Tip-off between the Broncos (10-5, 0-0 MW) and Falcons (10-4, 0-0 MW) is scheduled for 4 p.m., and the game will be nationally-televised by The Mtn.
TV INFORMATION: The game against the Falcons is one of 11 Bronco broadcasts by The Mtn. this season.
Play-by-Play: Ari Wolfe
Analyst: Brad Holland
RADIO INFORMATION: Boise State’s game will be broadcast live on the Bronco Sports Network, with KBOI (670 AM) serving as the flagship station. The broadcast will also be streamed live at BroncoSports.com.
Play-by-Play: Bob Behler
Analyst: Abe Jackson
MW HISTORY: Heading into its first season as a member of the Mountain West, the Broncos are 10-16 against current league opponents. New Mexico is the only current MW school that Boise State has not faced.
LEAGUE OPENERS: The Broncos are 2-1 when opening conference play in a new league, defeating Idaho State to open in the Big Sky Conference, Jan. 2, 1971 (76-74), and Long Beach State to open in the Big West Conference, Jan. 6, 1997 (78-53). The Broncos lost to SMU to open Western Athletic Conference play, Dec. 28, 2001 (80-67). Only the game against the Bengals was played at home.
THE SERIES: The Broncos and Falcons have squared off just once prior to this season, a 77-68 win in Boise, Dec. 27, 1991.
HOLDING COURT: The Broncos have won 15-consecutive home games, tied for the 10th-longest streak in the nation (through Jan. 9). Boise State has won its first nine home games of 2011-12, the longest streak since the team went 13-0 during the 1997-98 season.
FRESHMEN RANKINGS: Anthony Drmic ranks 17th-nationally in scoring amongst freshmen (14.4), and also ranks third in 3-point field goal percentage (.406) and fourth in 3-point field goals made per game (2.79). He leads Mountain West freshmen in each statistical category, in addition to leading conference freshmen in rebounding (4.4), field goal percentage (.441) and free throw percentage (.750).
ANOTHER 20 FOR DRMIC: Anthony Drmic already has three 20-point games this season, the most by a Bronco freshman since Tanoka Beard registered four in 1989-90. Drmic’s 26 points against Idaho (Dec. 31) are the most by a Boise State freshman since Steve Shepherd also scored 26 against Montana State, Feb. 26, 1994. The school record for a freshman is 33, set by Steve Connor against Portland State, Jan. 3, 1975.
PERRYMAN’S RATIO: Redshirt senior guard Westly Perryman recorded nine assists and zero turnovers against Idaho (Dec. 31), the most assists without a turnover by a Mountain West player this season. Perryman’s assist-turnover ratio (2.60) is ranked second in the conference and 23rd nationally. Perryman boasts an assist-turnover ratio of 15-1 in his last three games, and has not recorded a turnover since there were 10-minutes, 30-seconds remaining in the second half against Iowa (Dec. 22), a span of 90:30 of game time.
Heck yes, Basketball is finally back at The Bell and this time its against conference competition. If there was one reason we don't still hate the Mountain West it's because of Basketball and this weekend kicks off a season of basketball conference play that might just make surviving the football offseason and coach losses a little easier. Every MWC team brings a level of intrigue and the Falcons are definitely an intriguing match-up. It's easy to look at Air Force and think they are an easy first target, a couple seasons spent at the very bottom of the MWC can do that to your perception ('08 and '09), however this team clawed back towards the end of last season and finished 6th in the conference after being picked preseason to finish last for a third straight season. I'm still a believer that Boise State can do the same thing this year, finish 6th by trumping TCu and CSU or Wyoming, but in order to do that we need to take care of business when we have an opportunity to pick up a W. No matter where BSU falls one things for sure, it's going to be a battle for the number 4-8 spots in the MWC this year.
Air Force is a great team and will be a tough challenge for Boise State. BSU will catch a huge break if AFA Guard Michael Lyons remains out after suffering a high ankle sprain against Gonzaga on December 22nd. Before the injury, Lyons was averaging 16.3 points per game. Lyons is the Mountain West's leading scorer returner from last year. Not only will he be out but Boise State has the 10th longest Active Home Game Winning Streak at Taco Bell Areana. With Lyons probability of playing reported as being 50-50 at best a couple days ago, this is perhaps BSU's best chance at taking down AFA and making a statement to the rest of the league.
Air Force is still seeking it's first win over a team ranked in the Top 150 of RPI rankings, having lost to all 5 Top 150 teams they've played. Boise State, currently ranked #136, has won 4 of the 9 games they've played against teams in the Top 200 (Saying Top 200 is funny because there are like 350 teams), AFA is currently ranked #211. Both teams are also currently winless on the road. I'm hoping they both stay that way at least until Boise travels to visit Colorado State next week. For more proof of the even level of this matchup check out game stat comparisons from StatSheet:
As you can see above, both teams are pretty even shooting from the field, BSU - 46.6% and AFA-46.5%. Even with Lyons out (51-102 for 50%), Air Force still has 3 other high output (playing more than 25 minutes a game) shooters with FG percentages of .495 and higher. Taylor Broekhuis is the man expected to fill in for Lyons. Not only is Taylor one of the previously mentioned high output shooters (43-83 for 51.8%) but he's also Air Force's rebounding leader with about 5 a game, the bulk of those coming on the defensive glass. He played Volleyball in high school so no doubt he has an edge under the glass.
Todd Fletcher and Kam Williams have both taken over leadership duties since Lyons went down. Both had a great game this week vs. Texas Pan-America. Todd led AFA in scoring and Kam, a freshman, had his first career double double. If the game comes down to Free Throws I have one tip for our Broncos, DO NOT FOUL Todd. The dude is 25 of 26 this season (yeah, he's 96% from the charity stripe). According to his Air Force Player Bio, his favorite TV Show is Friends. Anyone have a life sized cardboard Jennifer Aniston we can wave behind the basket? I'm thinking something like THIS (minus the kid wearing who knows what...). That or we could just make sure we don't foul him on crappy drives or shots.
Beyond the arc we've seen a lot from our Broncos (shooting 39.4%) but Air Force has some shooters as well. They've attempted 60 less three pointers this season but shoot 34.5%. Last week Fresno State made a ridiculous amount of 3 pointers (5 for 5) in the second half to keep Boise at bay, we can't let Air Force do that this week.
Fan support is going to be huge this week. During this week's Idaho Statesman Live Chat w/ Coach Rice it was asked whether Coach Rice expected the arena to be sold out for UNLV, he said yes but said he hoped as many people would come this week. Nick Jezierny tweeted that as of Thursday, 6300 tickets had been sold. That right there is already the season's largest crowd at TBA by 1K. Another thousand will sell out the bottom two levels and the Balcony will start selling. Local Taco Bells have been giving out free ticket vouchers when asked the past couple weeks. No one knows right now if those are counted in the 6300 number but being as they have been referred to as vouchers I'd guess they aren't
With the Bolts having their own road woes a crowd this size will really help BSU. Boise State Athletics will actually be handing out "autograph books" to the first 500 kids into the game, ages 12 and under. Apparently these can be used to get autographs from the players after each game. Generally the players come give high fives to the student section after the game so I'd imagine this would happen there. Coach Rice also showed a little bit of desire for some creative fanship:
Ouch Bronco Libre... For what it's worth, I think you're awesome. That said, I don't know what could trump Duke Speedo Guy... That never stops making me laugh! I may not be the best reading between the lines but I think Coach Rice wants as much craziness as possible in that student section and I think they've done a great job and been pretty entertaining. With school starting back up next Tuesday there will be plenty of students back, ready to be loud and rowdy.
Boise State should come out looking pretty good despite not playing for a week and a half and these three tweets lead me to believe that:
@Brodontpleh15 (January 3rd) - Can't wait to get back to boise to start preparing for conference!
@jeff_elo11 (January 8th) - my body is still killing me from practice
@nickjezierny - Boise St bball coach Leon Rice on a 12-day layoff "i told (the team) Alabama had 44 days off and they got a lot better."
Any of you nuggies gonna be there? Any first timers with questions? Score predictions? Get excited about BSU Basketball Bronco Nation! It's conference play baby!