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Boise State basketball update: Broncos off to historically bad start in conference play

Is this what being a bad WAC team feels like?

The Broncos have gone from 8-0 in the WAC during the pigskin days to a round-ball Bronco squad that cannot buy a WAC win, dropping to 0-4 this year. I've been a big believer in a possible NCAA Tourney bid for Boise State, but that has been shot just like my dreams of coaching the football team. Follow after the jump for an update on where Bronco basketball stands and where it goes from here.

Please stop the WAC season, Boise State wants to get off

How bad is Boise State's 0-4 start to the WAC conference season? The Broncos have not been this bad to start conference play in 18 years, and if things continue the way they are going, Boise State will fail to make the eight-team WAC tournament. When does football season start again?

A recap of the Broncos' past three games

When the Broncos traveled to Hawaii last week, the only souvenir they brought back was a coach on fire. And players upset. The Bronco held a solid first-half lead until the Warriors went on a 12-2 run to end the half. The flames really started to fly when Ike Okoye got into a small dispute with UH star Roederick Flemings and Okoye received a nice old tech. Hawaii won 76-68. The Broncos were led by La'Shard Anderson who recorded 18 points and 5 steals off the bench. JUCO transfer Daequon Montreal added 16 points and 6 rebounds.

The second game was another Bronco thriller, but Boise State found itself on the wrong end again, losing to NMSU 88-85. The theme of this game was the inability of the Broncos to close the game and to capitalize on opportunities. The Broncos were led by newcomer Robert Arnold who scored 26 and was a huge part of BSU's 11-0 run to take the 85-81 lead with 1:50 left to go. Boise State did not score again. The Broncos blew the game with poor free-throw shooting as the Aggies took a 3-point lead with 40 seconds left. The Broncos would get three chances to tie the game, and just like their WAC record, they went 0-fer as Anthony Thomas missed a last-second three with a double-team on him.

Monday night, Boise State got outplayed by WAC leader Louisiana Tech, losing 79-64. The Bulldogs held a 50-34 advantage on points in the paint and second-chance points, despite a 14-rebound, 3-block night by Ike Okoye.

The Broncos' last good game might have been a seven-point win over Portland State back on December 21. The PSU win was huge for the Broncos after losing to them last year, and it also showed the level of play this team posseses. Portland State is no Kentucky, but they are a solid team.

And yes, it is now at the point where you take solace from wins over Portland State.

Tell it to us straight, Tom Scott

To make matters worse, Tom Scott reports that attendance at basketball games is threatening to dip below attendance at football practices.

The loss to New Mexico State last Saturday combined with the Monday night date against Louisiana Tech created a perfect storm for BSU at the gate—virtually no gate at all. The Broncos drew just 2,186 Monday, perhaps the lowest turnout for a conference game since Taco Bell Arena opened over 27 years ago. Hey, College of Idaho attracted 2,422 for its game against NNU at the J.A. Albertson Activities Center in Caldwell in November. Put a 79-64 loss to the Bulldogs on top of that Monday crowd, and what happens when Boise State comes home against perennial WAC power Nevada next Wednesday? 

Scott predicts that the problem could get worse if the Broncos do not find a way to pull off a two-game road winning streak before returning home on Wednesday. The Broncos' next two opponents:

  • Tomorrow night @ San Jose State (8-7 overall, 1-2 conference)
  • Saturday @ Utah State (12-6, 2-2)

If it doesn't happen against San Jose State tomorrow night, it could be awhile before the Broncos break through with a WAC win.

On a personal note

My cousin Jon (not actually related, but we consider him family) lives in Sugar Land, Texas, home of starting S George Iloka. Jon is a sophmore in high school and is best friends with George's brother, two-star recruit Kenny Iloka. Jon plays basketball with Kenny and raves about his skill at the AAU level. I'm trying to get Jon to push Kenny into football for good, but there is a chance he'll stick with basketball or soccer instead.

Being a two-star player already means he will probably end up a three-star or near the four-star area. He is a safety and wide receiver, 6'3", and fast. Here's hoping he sticks with football.

Five good things

  1. Newcomers: Robert Arnold and Daequon Montreal have been playing real well, both averaging around 16 per and rebounding.
  2. Guard Play: Guards Anthony Thomas and La'Shard Anderson have both been shooting well and stealing more things than an Idaho grad.
  3. Forcing Turnovers: Led by Anderson's run of 11 steals in two games, the Broncos are capable of amazing Kellen-esque efficiency on the defensive end.
  4. Ike Okoye: Leads the team in scoring, rebounding, and blocked shots.
  5. The Rotation: Broncos go seven-deep and stay surprisingly fast.

Three bad things

  1. Losing: Why can't this team win in the WAC? Football can only carry us so far as a major sport. At least we have never lost a baseball game in school history.
  2. Shooting: The posterboy for Boise State's bad shooting was Paul Noonan and his 0-6 against Hawaii, leading to his benching and the first shot and 3-pointer by Justin Salzwedel. Runnerup: The Broncos dipping below 60 percent from the charity stripe.
  3. Coaching: Made some real questionable calls at the end of a couple games and has shown a lack of emotion and game management at times this season.

Until next week ...

Stay classy, OBNUG.