Leon Rice often has made winning look like a forgone conclusion for the Boise State men’s basketball team.
In seven of his past eight seasons, the Broncos have logged 20 or more wins, and Rice is the only coach in program history to reach the plateau six years in a row.
But season No. 9 may prove to be Rice’s toughest coaching challenge yet.
The Broncos enter Saturday’s nonconference matchup at Grand Canyon (4-3) with an overall record of 2-4, matching the slowest start to a season since 2006-07.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
“I never want a team that accepts losing and that’s comfortable with it, and they’re not,” Rice said in a phone interview with local media on Friday.
“But I also don’t want to overreact to it. I want to keep the long-range goals in focus, and when we keep doing that, we’re going to end up being a good team.”
The Broncos will use their seven remaining nonconference games over the next month to prepare for their Mountain West Conference opener at Wyoming on Jan. 2. Saturday’s 7 p.m. MT game (ESPN3, 93.1 FM) at GCU Arena in Phoenix is the return game of a two-year series and Boise State’s fifth straight away from Taco Bell Arena.
“I never want to stop being aggressive scheduling, this year with this new team I probably bit off a little more than they need to chew on,” Rice said. “But when you really break it down, if we were a little bit better, we’d be surviving it. So that’s on us. We’ve got to get a little bit better. ... Necessity is the mother of invention. We’ll figure it out.”
Women: Lupfer receives national recognition
Boise State junior guard Riley Lupfer was named to NCAA.com’s Starting Five for the week of Nov. 19-25. It is the second such honor of her career.
The Spokane, Washington, native helped the Broncos go 2-1 last week with a 74-55 loss to No. 5 Louisville followed by back-to-back wins at the Beach Classic over Idaho (91-85) and Northern Iowa (61-60).
Lupfer averaged 13.3 points in the three games, made eight 3-pointers and finished 8-for-8 from the free-throw line for MVP honors at the Beach Classic.
“I think it’s great for our program and great for our university that women’s basketball is doing pretty well right now,” Boise State women’s basketball coach Gordy Presnell said. “Obviously it’s a long, long season, but we’re really excited for Riley. I think that she’s made a name for herself with her 3-point shooting and then her clutch performances in pressure situations.”
Lupfer, who hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:27 to play against Northern Iowa, is joined on the Starting Five by Beatrice Mompremier (Miami Fla.), Jordan Sanders (UC Irvine), Alanna Smith (Stanford) and Sug Sutton (Texas).
Up next for Boise State (5-1) is a trip to Pullman, Washington, to play Washington State (3-4). Tipoff is 2 p.m. MT on Saturday (1350 AM) at Beasley Coliseum.
Women’s soccer: Sherle becomes Broncos’ first All-American
Boise State’s season has been over for nearly a month, but Raimee Sherle’s record-setting spree continues.
The junior forward became the first All-American in program history when she was named to the United Soccer Coaches NCAA Division I Women’s All-American third team on Thursday night.
She is just the fourth All-American from the Mountain West Conference since the turn of the decade, joining UNLV’s Lily Sender (2016, second team), San Diego State’s Megan Jurado (2012, second team) and BYU’s Lindsi Lisonbee (2010, second team).
Sherle set Mountain West and program single-season records with 20 goals in 2018. Her 45 career goals also is a Mountain West and program record. The Rocky Mountain High graduate ranks No. 1 in the NCAA this season with 10 game-winning goals, and her 20 goals remains tied for first in the nation with four teams alive going into Friday’s NCAA Tournament semifinals.