Zach Haney is easily the tallest person in the room 99.9 percent of the time.
Saturday will be the rare exception for the 6-foot-11 senior on the Boise State men’s basketball team.
Haney and the Broncos travel to Eugene, Oregon, for the first of two nonconference games this month against Oregon. Tipoff is 7 p.m. MT at Matthew Knight Arena.
Headlining the 2018-19 Ducks roster is 7-2 freshman Bol Bol, the son of former NBA shot-blocking machine Manute Bol.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Idaho Statesman
“He’s a truly talented kid. Big as all get out,” Haney said. “He can do some special things. He’s a special guy, so just play hard and do what the game plan is at the end of the night and it will take care of itself from there.”
Through nine games, Bol is averaging 21.0 points, 9.6 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game. The center from Olathe, Kansas, was ranked the No. 3 recruit in the nation by 247Sports.com for the class of 2018 and is now considered a top 5 prospect for the 2019 NBA Draft.
“He’s so big and skilled, and it’s something that I’ve never seen before, really, at that height to be that skilled,” Boise State coach Leon Rice said. “He’s knocking down threes and he can just go catch the ball like it’s a grapefruit. It’s amazing.”
Saturday’s game marks the fourth year in a row the Ducks (6-3) and Broncos (4-5) have met in a nonconference game. Boise State won last year’s meeting at Oregon 73-70 on Lexus Williams’ halfcourt buzzer-beater. The teams have a combined score of 210-210 in the three most recent games.
“It’s a credit to (Oregon coach) Dana (Altman). There’s BCS teams that have not played road games yet,” Rice said. “... Hopefully the coaches that do things like he’s doing get rewarded for that, for going out and scheduling these kinds of games. Because otherwise they disappear.
“You don’t get these opportunities and you don’t get these games if you don’t have guys like Dana doing that.”
Two weeks after Saturday’s game in Eugene, the Ducks come to Taco Bell Arena for a 5:30 p.m. MT contest on Dec. 29. That game will be televised by the CBS Sports Network.
“It’s probably going to be a dogfight and just come down to the wire, but those games are fun,” Haney said. “That’s kind of what you live for.”
Rice’s former player will call Ducks game
While he was an assistant at Gonzaga, Rice coached Dan Dickau from 2000 to 2002.
Dickau is now an on-air broadcaster for the Pac-12 Network, and he will be one of the analysts calling Boise State’s game at Oregon on Saturday.
As a senior, Dickau was named the WCC Player of the Year and a first-team All-American. He was selected by the Sacramento Kings with the 28th overall pick in the 2002 draft and played six seasons in the NBA with seven different teams.
Coincidentally, Rice and Dickau were a part of the last Gonzaga team to play Boise State. The Broncos won that game 94-69 on Dec. 9, 2000, at Taco Bell Arena. That Zags team went on to win the WCC and advance to the Sweet Sixteen.
Women: Husky Classic will feel like ‘home’ for Broncos
Seven Boise State women’s basketball players call the state of Washington home, with five of those Broncos hailing from Seattle and its surrounding suburbs.
That should give the two-day Husky Classic at the University of Washington in Seattle a bit of a friendly feel for the Broncos.
Boise State (6-2) opens the tournament against St. Francis (Pa.) at 5 p.m. MT on Saturday at Alaska Airlines Arena. The Broncos then play Sunday in either the championship game at 5 p.m. MT or the consolation game at 2 p.m. MT against Montana (4-3) or host Washington (6-3).
“I have older relatives who can’t always fly,” Boise State senior Joyce Harrell said. “Just being home and being able to play in front of everybody, it’s going to be nice.”
Harrell, a Seattle native, and junior point guard Jayde Christopher played together at Cleveland High and are expecting their former coach and some high school teammates to attend the tournament. Junior guard Ellie Woerner, freshman guard Jade Loville and redshirt senior Marijke Vanderschaaf are all from Sammamish, Wash.
Woerner’s family will host a team dinner on Friday night.
“It will be nice to have a lot of support even on an away court and have familiar faces in the stands,” Woerner said. “... Whoever is there will be very loud, so it will feel like a lot of fans.”
The Broncos topped St. Francis 87-59 last season at Taco Bell Arena. Both teams ended up advancing to the NCAA Tournament, with the Red Flash (2-6) losing 140-52 to top-ranked UConn in the first round. Boise State also notched an 85-62 win over Washington on Dec. 7, 2017.