In his third season at Boise State, basketball coach Leon Rice often claims that in order to have a great program, you have to have a great homecourt advantage.
Colorado State, the Broncos opponent Wednesday night, seems to have figured it out.
The Rams (16-4, 3-2 Mountain West) reached the NCAA Tournament last year and appear on their way this season.
Theyve just gradually got better and better and better. Its a good example for our program. It didnt turn around overnight. It took those guys three, four years before they were even winning games in the Mountain West, Rice said. I think its a good map for what we need to do here.
Former coach Tim Miles went 0-16 in league games in 2007-08. In his last two seasons, the Rams went 17-15 in the tough Mountain West. Larry Eustachy, a former Idaho coach, replaced Miles in the offseason. His Southern Miss team was the last opponent to defeat Colorado State at home in November 2011.
Thier fans love their basketball and theyre playing extremely well. You put those things together and thats a tough combination, said Air Force coach Dave Pilipovich, whose team was blitzed 79-40 in Fort Collins. Im glad were done with it for this year.
Colorado States home winning streak is the fourth longest active streak in the country. After stints at basketball hotbeds (and great homecourts) like Utah State and Iowa State, Eustachy said the atmosphere at Moby Arena aids the program.
Weve won games here that probably would have been lost if not for the crowd pulling the players through, he said.
Boise State (14-5, 2-3) has struggled on the road. Four of the Broncos losses are in road games, including conference losses at Air Force and Nevada. Boise States lone road league win came on a last-second shot by Jeff Elorriaga at Wyoming.
Elorriaga, who has missed five of the last six halves with concussions, made the trip to Colorado State. His status will be determined Wednesday, but Elorriaga did not travel to Air Force or Nevada, both games he missed.
Its killing him so much, its making his head hurt worse, center Kenny Buckner said. He wants to be there every second he gets.
The Broncos have struggled without his steady hand on the road.
We lose a ton. Thats where those other guys have to grow, Rice said. Theres leadership that Jeff brings to the table. Its all the fine little details that hes really, really good at.
The Rams greatest advantage outside of their homecourt edge is on the boards.
Colorado State leads the nation, by far, in rebounding margin. The Rams are outrebounding opponents by 14.1 boards per game. Maryland is second at 10.4.
Six-foot-5 forward Pierce Hornung (9.6 rebounds per game) and 7-foot center Colton Iverson (9.5) are one-two in the Mountain West in rebounds per game.
You cant keep the big fellas off the boards, said Rice, whose team is plus-5.7 rebounds per game.
Buckner and junior Ryan Watkins, who are averaging 13.0 rebounds combined, will likely see time on the floor together as was the case at Nevada.
Its going to be a crusade to get a rebound. They have guys that know how to rebound, but now with the emphasis on rebounding, theyve even got better at it. Hornung and Iverson are probably two of the best rebounders in the country and youre not overstating it when you say country, Rice said. They drive a hard bargain.
Brian Murphy: 377-6444,Twitter: @MurphsTurph