BOISE — Theyve handled adversity well in games, and theyve handled it well in an impromptu eight-hour bus ride. Now, the Boise State Broncos will see how they handle a tough game coming off a loss.
No. 11 Kentucky handed Boise State its first loss Tuesday in Lexington, Ky., but the Broncos focus has shifted quickly with unbeaten Saint Marys (7-0) visiting Taco Bell Arena on Saturday (4:05 p.m., ROOT).
So far, the Broncos (8-1) have rebounded nicely.
We mightve had the best practice of the year (Thursday), Boise State coach Leon Rice said. Thats what I love about these guys it didnt sit well. They didnt go, Oh, we lost to a great team. Were mad that we didnt give everything we could to give them our best shot.
After the 70-55 setback Tuesday, Rice rued catching the Wildcats following a loss in their previous game against Baylor, saying it may have recalibrated John Caliparis squad.
Though some of the areas in which the Broncos struggled were no doubt a credit to Kentucky, they prompted Thursdays practice, during which Rice said, I was loving it.
He hoped it did the same thing for his team that it did for the Wildcats.
It helps maybe recalibrate some things we were doing, he said. Sometimes it snaps guys attention a little when you do drop one.
Boise State has used four players this season who did not play for the team last season, and the loss could be a new learning experience for them.
We have some guys on this team that hadnt tasted defeat yet, so I think this (week) will be good for them, junior Anthony Drmic said Tuesday.
Also helping focus this week is the fact the 7-0 Gaels (one of only 14 undefeated teams left) come to Boise, a reminder of a heated, hated rivalry from Rices 12 seasons at Gonzaga.
The Gaels have adapted well minus Matthew Dellavedova, the Aussie guard who left with a school-record 1,933 points and is an NBA rookie with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Forward Brad Waldow has stepped into the go-to role with 18.6 points and 7.1 rebounds per game with only three turnovers thus far.
Hes terrific, Rice said.
Saturdays matchup will be the Gaels first road game of the season, and the Broncos have already ruined an unbeaten teams start on its first road trip (last week against Utah).
As of Friday afternoon, Boise State had distributed nearly 8,000 tickets for Saturdays game. Coupling a chance to beat a team No. 8 in RealTimeRPI.coms rankings in front of a big crowd, with a shot to start a new winning streak, Rice wasnt shy about the importance of the matchup against the Gaels.
No question its more important (than Kentucky), Rice said. Kentucky is almost a free swing; you get a shot at the title on the road. This is a home game against a top-10 team in the RPI, so its a huge game.
BSU women ready for friendly confines
Coming off an 85-71 loss to Portland on Sunday, the Broncos (4-4) hope to get back above .500 on Saturday against San Francisco at Taco Bell Arena.
The Broncos home floor has been where all four of their wins have come, while they are 0-3 on the road.
Boise State sophomore center Miquelle Askew is among the Mountain Wests top 10 in scoring (14.8 points per game) and rebounding (6.6 rpg). Sophomore forward Lexie Der is averaging 13.0 ppg and 7.2 rpg. Countering for the Dons (3-5) are two talented 5-foot-10 guards, Rachel Howard (13.6 ppg) and Taj Winston (12.9 ppg).
Dave Southorn: 377-6420, Twitter: @IDS_Southorn