Boise State Basketball

Three NCAA Tournament appearances in four years. It all starts with the ‘Bronco Way.’

Watch Boise State’s game-winning steal and title celebration

Jayde Christopher grabbed a steal in the closing seconds of Boise State's 70-66 victory over New Mexico on Monday at Taco Bell Arena. The win assured the Broncos the Mountain West's regular-season title and the No. 1 seed at the league tournament.
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Jayde Christopher grabbed a steal in the closing seconds of Boise State's 70-66 victory over New Mexico on Monday at Taco Bell Arena. The win assured the Broncos the Mountain West's regular-season title and the No. 1 seed at the league tournament.

When senior guard Marta Hermida joined the Boise State women’s basketball team at the start of the 2015-16 school year, she had to learn the hard way.

“The first day I got here, I remember I went to weights and I was late because I was only 10 minutes early,” Hermida said. “I was like, ‘What?’ So from the first day I knew that if I am only 10 minutes early, that’s late for this team.”

Coach Gordy Presnell calls it the “Bronco Way,” and it may very well be the secret behind the program’s competitive consistency.

Boise State will go for its third straight Mountain West Tournament title — and fourth in five years — starting with Monday’s 1 p.m. MT quarterfinal at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. The top-seeded Broncos (25-4) face the winner of Sunday’s matchup between No. 8 Nevada (11-18) and No. 9 San Jose State (6-23).

“It’s about discipline. Expectations are met that way,” Presnell said. “I think it makes them feel like they’re part of a unit, and it’s kind of a fraternal thing. And then we want them to go out into society some day and feel great about what they’re a part of and the fraternalness of being a Boise State women’s basketball player.”

The Bronco Way is ingrained in the program from the top down. Even its leader must adhere to the rules, and it’s up to the seniors to impart the traditions to the team’s youngest members.

“It all gets passed down,” Presnell said. “These guys learned from (former players) Brooke Pahukoa and Yaiza Rodriguez. Now Marta and Joyce (Harrell) are teaching the new ones. That’s kind of how it gets handed down from one class to the next.”

Most of the time, new players have to learn as they go.

If the bus leaves for a pregame shootaround at 7:45 a.m., you’ll likely find — as I did — every member of the team seated on the bus and ready to go at 7:30. And those seats are assigned, not with words, but by memory. Every player and coach instinctively knows where they sit, and that seat never changes.

“We’re a team, so if you don’t do it, you’re an outcast,” Boise State junior Riley Lupfer said. “No one likes walking into the room and seeing your 14 other teammates already there waiting on you.”

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Boise State’s Braydey Hodgins attempts to get past a New Mexico defender on her way to the basket. The Broncos defeated New Mexico 70-66 to clinch the regular-season Mountain West title outright and the No. 1 seed at the conference tournament. Katherine Jones kjones@idahostatesman.com

In practice, water bottles are precisely lined up in numerical order, with each player’s number clearly visible. Road trips come with carefully planned itineraries that include what to pack and when to eat.

For the Broncos, success truly starts with the details.

“When you have a plan and you always know what to do and what’s the right thing to do, that’s always good for your team,” Hermida said. “It’s good for the discipline of the whole team and every player.”

When timeliness and discipline define your daily routine, those traits tend to carry over into other aspects of life, including basketball.

It has helped the Broncos tackle the rigors of the Mountain West Tournament unlike any other team in recent history. Three of Boise State’s four conference tournament championships — 2007, 2015, 2017 and 2018 — have been won in the Mountain West era. The Broncos also have made three of the program’s five NCAA Tournament appearances (1994, 2007, 2015, 2017, 2018) in the past four years.

“That’s just the culture here. If you’re on time, you’re late. You can lay in bed 15 more minutes or you can get up and get ready mentally for practice,” Boise State junior Braydey Hodgins said. “... This is our routine and we do it well. That’s what kind of leads to where we’re at and the success on the court.”

Note: The Broncos’ Mountain West Conference Tournament opener will be streamed online at WatchStadium.com and on the radio at 1350 AM.

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