Boise State Basketball

Boise State basketball gets warmup Saturday before diving into tough, early schedule

Now in his seventh year as head coach, Boise State’s Leon Rice holds a 122-75 record and has led the Broncos to a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances.
Now in his seventh year as head coach, Boise State’s Leon Rice holds a 122-75 record and has led the Broncos to a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances. kgreen@idahostatesman.com

This week’s presidential election allowed Boise State basketball player James Reid a brief moment to reflect on the rollercoaster he’s ridden the past few years.

The Bend, Ore., native began his college career at the College of Southern Idaho. After two seasons in Twin Falls, he joined the team at Arkansas-Little Rock. He then transferred to Boise State and was forced to sit out the 2015-16 season due to NCAA rules.

The senior guard has been around the block, and without getting political, a change in Commander-in-Chief also signifies a change in his life.

“I’m sitting there thinking, the election, it is what it is and it’s crazy. But it’s kind of been like (a) life timeline,” Reid said. “And just thinking back to the last time Obama wasn’t my president, and I was about ready to go to high school and just where the last eight years have been and taken me, and how special that’s been.

“I wouldn’t trade the path I’ve taken for anything. The people that I’ve met, the things I’ve learned and times I’ve had, it’s been so awesome. And to get to end up here as a Bronco is just more in that same line.”

Boise State opens its season with a new, youthful roster at 1 p.m. Saturday in Taco Bell Arena against Northwest University an NAIA program from Kirkland, Wash.

Boise State men's coach Leon Rice discusses his path to Boise State, his family and the beauty of basketball's ability to bring both together.

The roster is so young that, despite having never logged a minute in the regular season for Boise State, Reid is considered one of the team’s elder statesmen. The Broncos lost four full-time starters from their 2015-16 squad and were predicted to finish fifth in the Mountain West preseason poll after being projected second the previous three years.

Other than senior forward Nick Duncan, Boise State has question marks across the board.

And with an early schedule that includes three games in the Charleston (S.C.) Classic, road games at No. 5 Oregon, Evansville and Loyola Marymount, and a home game against SMU, coach Leon Rice knows his team is going to take some punches.

Perhaps unexpectedly, the Broncos took a few of those jabs in last weekend’s exhibition game against NAIA Division II Northwest Christian. The Beacons led in the second half and gave the Broncos fits before ultimately falling 91-76.

“We were a little up-and-down, but we had some great minutes and we did some good things,” Rice said. “This November schedule is a gauntlet. We can’t lose sight of how young we are.”

As far as Saturday’s opener is concerned, Northwest (5-0), which plays in the Cascade Conference with Northwest Christian and the College of Idaho, will likely not provide as much of a challenge as Northwest Christian. The Eagles were picked to finish sixth in the conference’s preseason poll and have one player taller than 6-foot-7.

The matchup is key for the Broncos outside of the final score, specifically in terms of learning strategies and techniques implemented in the offseason but have yet to be perfected. They are lessons better learned now, given Boise State heads to Charleston on Nov. 15 to play in a tournament that includes defending national champion Villanova, Wake Forest, UTEP and Mississippi State.

“You want everything to be in order for this first game. (But) they’re not all to the level that we need them to be at. And that’s what you get when you have a young team,” Rice said. “You can’t really move on until you get some of these fundamentals of our program down.”

Michael Katz: 208-377-6444, @MichaelLKatz

Boise State women host Southern Oregon on Sunday

Coach Gordy Presnell and the Broncos, the No. 2 team in the Mountain West preseason poll, open the regular season at 2 p.m. at Taco Bell Arena. Boise State returns four starters from last year’s 19-11 squad, including all-conference guard Brooke Pahukoa and junior forward Shalen Shaw. Boise State Women’s Fans Guide: What you need to know for the 2016-17 season at IdahoStatesman.com/Sports

Division I season openers in Idaho

▪ Boise State men: Saturday, 1 p.m., Northwest University, Taco Bell Arena

▪ Boise State women: Sunday, 2 p.m., Southern Oregon, Taco Bell Arena

▪ Idaho men: Saturday, 9 p.m. MT, Corban, Memorial Gym

▪ Idaho women: Friday at Seattle, W, 68-64

▪ Idaho State men: Friday at New Mexico, L, 81-70

▪ Idaho State women: Friday at Santa Clara, L, 82-78

Boise State Men’s Fans Guide: What you need to know for the 2016-17 season at IdahoStatesman.com/Sports

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