Boise State Basketball

Coach Rice relying on ‘biblical patience’ to get through Boise State’s rough start

Rice: Tough schedule exposing Boise State’s flaws

Boise State men's basketball coach Leon Rice says the Broncos' tough nonconference schedule has exposed a number of the team's flaws. But he says it's better to address those flaws early than schedule easy teams.
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Boise State men's basketball coach Leon Rice says the Broncos' tough nonconference schedule has exposed a number of the team's flaws. But he says it's better to address those flaws early than schedule easy teams.

During the previous eight seasons under Leon Rice, losing has not been the norm for the Boise State men’s basketball team.

But this year’s Broncos have seven losses through their first 11 games, with four of those losses decided by a single possession.

That can take a toll on the psyche, even for a seasoned coach.

“Biblical patience I think is the key,” Rice told local reporters on Friday. “... The response to losses is hard, and then it probably is times 10 when you lose on the last possession and all the ways that have happened.

“... My guys are fighting every day, and they’re right there. They’re getting better. They’re improving. I’d rather have that. To suffer those losses is not easy, and it takes a lot of toughness to pull yourself up off the ground and get ready to fight again.”

Three days after losing by one point on the final possession at Loyola Marymount, the Broncos (4-7) will take on another West Coast Conference squad when they host Pacific (9-4) at 1 p.m. Saturday at Taco Bell Arena. The game will be streamed online on Stadium College Basketball’s Facebook page.

The Tigers already have faced a gauntlet of Mountain West teams, losing to Nevada (83-61), UNLV (96-70) and Fresno State (81-78 OT). They have a win against Air Force (82-69).

Saturday’s matchup could provide the Broncos an idea of how they will stack up heading into conference play.

“An old coach once said to me, ‘It’s not who you play, it’s when you play them,’ so you just never know. Going on comparative scores is kind of tough,” Rice said. “We’ve got our blinders on worrying about ourselves and how we keep getting better. If we can do that, like I’ve said all along, we can be a really, really good team.”

Pacific, coached by former Arizona star and NBA veteran Damon Stoudamire, enters on a four-game winning streak, while the Broncos have suffered back-to-back road losses. Rice says tough scheduling is partially to blame for his team’s slow start, but it’s allowing his staff to pinpoint weaknesses and address them early.

“We’re facing really good teams, which is really exposing some of the things that we don’t do well,” Rice said. “Sometimes you cover up those things you don’t do really well by playing bad teams. Well, we haven’t done that, and in the long run it’s going to help us and it’s going to make us better.”

Notes: The Mountain West and Atlantic 10 conferences announced Thursday that the Mountain West/Atlantic 10 Challenge will begin with the 2020-21 season. The two-year agreement has an option to extend the partnership for an additional two years. The two conferences will play 10 games each of the two seasons, with each league hosting five games per year. ... Boise State is one of eight teams chosen to play in the 2019 Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic, the tournament announced Friday. The Broncos will join Ball State, Georgia Tech, Hawaii, Houston, Portland, UTEP and Washington for the tournament at the Stan Sheriff Center on the campus of Hawaii. The tournament traditionally has been played Dec. 22-25, but official dates and matchups will be announced at a later date.

Rachel Roberts has been covering sports for the Idaho Statesman since 2005. She attended Northwest Nazarene University and is Boise born and raised.If you like seeing stories like this, please consider supporting our work with a digital subscription to the Idaho Statesman.

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