Yesterday we went over several of the losses taken by the Boise State men's basketball team. Now that the yuckiness is out of the way, let us review some of the GOOD games that the Broncos had over the season. Though the season ended somewhat abruptly for the Broncos with the eventual refusal to play in any of the remaining post-season tournaments, the Broncos still saw twenty wins on the schedule. This was the fifth, out of six, season that Leon Rice has guided his Boise State squad to twenty wins.
Over the course of the season, Rice helped guide Drmic to the second-most points in Bronco history. Rice also helped mold Webb into the double-double machine he is today. And Rice has also loaded the bench with upcoming stars ready to make an impact for the Broncos.
Though the year ended on a sour note, with ups and downs, there was still plenty to be proud of.
5. Utah State, Feb. 2
This game showed that the Broncos had what it takes to gut out a win when you never have the lead. And I mean, Boise State never had the lead prior to the 1:31 mark in the second half. Perhaps evidence that colossal meltdowns can happen to other teams, Utah State led by as many as 13 points early on in the second. The Broncos were able to grind to a 44-44 tie at the under 14 minute mark. Utah State would then proceed to take the lead again and get it balloon it to 11 points (55-44) in a little over two minutes time.
But to the Broncos' credit, and Webb's 19 points and nine assists, they were finally able to pull ahead.
It also did not hurt that the Aggies' Shane Rector missed a crucial last minute layup to tie the game. But, hey, the Broncos have suffered many a late game, heart crushing defeat. It's nice to be on the right side every once in a while.
4. UNLV, Feb. 23
This game turned out to be a nice follow-up to the train wreck that was the New Mexico game six days previous. The letdown against the Lobos could have continued to beat the Broncos or they could get past it and put together a solid performance. Luckily for the Bronco-faithful, Boise State chose the latter.
In somewhat of a revenge game for the Broncos from the last go around with the Runnin' Rebels, this game saw Anthony Drmic return to his points-grabbing form, getting 21 points and also put him sixth on the Mountain West Conference all-time scoring list. He shot 11 threes, making four of them. That would lead both teams on the night. And James Webb would contribute his usual double-double 17 points, 12 rebounds. Mikey Thompson contributed 20 points. Waves of relief could be felt from those watching the game.
3. Nevada, Mar. 2
This game is here for a couple of reasons: 1) It is Nevada. Anytime the Broncos get a win over those guys is a good time; 2) Anthony Drmic got a double-double 22 points, 11 rebounds. I think I saw somewhere that it was only his fourth double-double of his career? 3) Senior night. The Broncos needed to send these guys off in style, and they were able to do so to get Drmic into third place on the Broncos' all-time scoring list (passing Derrick Marks).
This also marked Webb's return from his knee injury that had a LOT of Broncos fans nervous about what was going to happen to him the rest of the season.
2. Oregon, Dec. 12
Part of the Boise State basketball mystique is the ability to get really nice double-digit leads at some point in a game. Give the false sense of hope/security to themselves and the fans watching the game. Then IT happens. The epic collapse. And oh boy is it ever a doozy.
The Broncos managed to get to a game-high 17 point lead against the Ducks. Then the ritual of "give the crowd their money's worth" kicked in. The Broncos had to hold on for dear life to walk away with the most accomplished win on the year.
Oh, and did you know Oregon is a number one seed in the NCAA tournament? Just thought I would bring that up.
At Colorado State, Feb.10 At San Diego State, Feb. 27
For all the importance and resumé defining win that the Broncos had over the Ducks, it was gone by the time the Broncos and the Aztecs clashed in late February. Having dropped, basically, inexcusable games to Air Force, New Mexico, Colorado State, etc., the matchup was mostly pride. Especially after the really bad shooting the Broncos displayed the first time around. Do you remember how bad the three point shooting was that night? They made one three pointer. Out of 17. That night in January was no fun.
And this game didn't really start out too fun for the Broncos either. The Broncos did not have James Webb and were 7.5 point road under dogs to the Aztecs. The two teams battled back and forth throughout the whole game. Broncos, interestingly enough, had the lead going into the half, but the Aztecs managed to close that gap pretty early.
Then came the five minute mark in the second half. For those that aren't aware, San Diego State had (yes, HAD) a pretty phenomenal stat: they won 164 consecutive games when they had the lead at the five minute mark. They held that streak with high regard, as they should. It showed wild consistency and the ability to close out games.
Being completely honest: once the five minute passed in the second half, I rage-quit the game. I did not want to witness my heart getting ripped out and seeing the Broncos fall again.
But I was wrong. I did not have the faith.
Remember how I say that Fired Up Nick Duncan is best Nick Duncan?
It is too bad that the season ended on a glum note. This San Diego State game should go down in Bronco-lore with Coach Rice telling the guys to hold on to the ball so the Broncos could break the streak. But, alas, this game may merely be a footnote on an otherwise underachieving season.
Still. Best game of the year, considering the circumstances.
I am probably wrong. I usually am. What would you have considered the best wins? Swap Oregon and San Diego State? Actually include the Colorado State debacle? The Webb shot alone probably would have made it number one had it counted. The future is going to be a bit rocky for the Broncos but Leon Rice does have some good pieces on the bench to make things interesting. Here is to next season.