Boise State grabbed national headlines with its upset of No. 11 Creighton on Wednesday night. Now the Broncos mens basketball team is hoping to keep its hot start going even with a much higher profile.
The Broncos (5-1) visit Seattle University (2-2) at 3 p.m. Sunday at Key Arena. Seattle, a first-year member of the WAC, has won 10 consecutive home games.
Now that more people are interested it doesnt change our jobs, coach Leon Rice said.
The victory against Creighton the highest-ranked opponent Boise State has ever defeated triggered a rash of attention for the Broncos and Rice, their third-year coach. ESPN.com and CBSSports.com each wrote stories, highlighted by sophomore guard Derrick Marks 35 points. Fans and local media greeted the Broncos upon their arrival at the Boise airport.
The kind of attention is the norm for the football program, but out of the ordinary for mens basketball.
You feel a difference, Rice said. Its funny because as coaches and as players, we try to keep ourselves in a cocoon. We try to tune that out. But we want to be a national program and thats what comes with being a national program.
Rice said his experience as a longtime assistant at Gonzaga during the Bulldogs rise to national prominence has helped prepare him for the onslaught of attention.
The first ride through that, its a lot of fun and its kind of overwhelming and its real easy to get caught up in it, Rice said.
The Broncos, to be clear, are a long way from that level of prominence. The Creighton upset, on the heels of a narrow loss at Michigan State, was a signature victory. It may even garner the Broncos votes in The Associated Press Top 25.
But Rice knows the Broncos are not good enough to just show up and win no matter how many national writers chime in on the ahead-of-schedule rebuilding job.
Boise State shot 60.4 percent from the floor and 52.6 percent from 3-point range against Creighton, both season highs. Both figures are well above the Broncos season averages.
We have to have our full attention at every game, Rice said. You dont play 30 A-plus games. Your effort and hustle and togetherness and toughness have to get you through those games that you dont play A-plus basketball. And Im talking about making shots.
It goes back to our practice habits. If you do it hard and tough and physical and thats how you show up for work every day, you eliminate those way ups and way downs. This team, as we mature, we hope to keep getting better at that.
Brian Murphy: 377-6444; Twitter: @MurphsTurph