Playing basketball in the Mountain West can be enough of a challenge, but sometimes the travel does no one favors.
Take Nevada, for example. The Wolf Pack had their flight to Salt Lake City canceled Friday, so they rented a bus to drive from Reno to Logan, Utah, for Saturday’s game at Utah State. Even if they made the flight, a nearly two-hour bus ride would have followed.
With that partially in mind, Boise State began increasing its usage of charter flights last season, which coach Leon Rice says has been a major benefit.
“Those things, they help us so much and they make such a difference for your program,” Rice said.
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The Broncos have chartered flights immediately after games back to Boise three times this season. They will do so again after their Feb. 6 game at Colorado State.
It is on par with the rest of the league. Nevada, Air Force and San Jose State do not charter any flights, while Colorado State will charter every road game except for its November tournament in Corpus Christi, Texas, and its Feb. 13 game at UNLV. Wyoming will charter six of its road trips, UNLV five (four round trips and one return flight) and Utah State three (all returns).
“It’s a big advantage to the programs that do it,” Rice said. “If we want to be in the top of the Mountain West, we have to do those kinds of things.”
In 2013-14, the team chartered once, and among the improvements in Rice’s March 2014 pay raise was a little more funding into the program, which he earmarked for charters, along with more donor contributions. He noted an ability to get back quickly allows for more time to rest, gets players back in time for classes, lets coaches prepare more and also can reduce visits to the team’s trainers.
“I think it minimizes sickness, because you’re not on a public plane where everyone’s coughing on you and that kind of thing,” Rice said. “It’s huge for the program. The more we can do those, it helps the team.”
NICK DUNCAN AND ANTHONY DRMIC JOKE AROUND ON CHARTER AFTER WIN AT NEVADA
LITTLE MAN, BIG HOPS, BIG SPOTLIGHT?
He hasn’t yet dunked in a game, but any fan that sees pregame warmups can see the incredible leaping ability of 5-foot-9 senior guard Montigo Alford.
Boise State hopes to showcase it soon, too. The athletic department filmed a video showing some of his dunks Tuesday and will submit him as a candidate for the final spot in the State Farm College Slam Dunk Contest on March 31 in Houston. Schools across the country can submit a compilation to a committee, which chooses the 16 best. Then, they are put into a bracket, which fans can vote on at DarkHorseDunker.com. The “Dark Horse Dunker” has won three of the past five years.
Last year’s top 16 were announced Feb. 11.
ALTITUDE REMEDY CREATES BEET MANIA
The Broncos credited part of their 81-71 win at Wyoming on Jan. 23 to a magical potion: beet juice. Strength and conditioning coach Adam Hermann told Rice he read a study that it helped increase blood flow at high altitude. So, the team drank some before the game and played a strong second half.
That started a bit of a trend. Rice drank some of it before he ran a sub-6-minute mile earlier this week, the CBS Sports Network broadcast Wednesday spent quite a bit of time talking about it, and multiple beet juice companies have approached Boise State since.
“Any way we can help the local beet farmers, we feel good about it,” Rice said. “... Hopefully it takes off, because there might be something to it.”
WINTER ROBIN (JORCH) SIGHTING
Freshman center Robin Jorch logged 11 minutes in Wednesday’s 87-77 loss at UNLV, his most against a Division I team this season. He had played only six minutes in Mountain West play but provided some solid minutes after getting two fouls in his first 98 seconds in the game. Jorch’s four points were his second most in a game, his two offensive rebounds tied his season-high, and he drew a charge.
“He’s got some ability, great hands, good instinct on the block,” Rice said.
New Mexico (12-8, 5-2 MW) at Boise State (15-6, 6-2)
- When: 3 p.m. Saturday
- Where: Taco Bell Arena
- TV: ESPN3
- Radio: KBOI 670 AM
- Tickets: $7-$18 juniors, $8-$19 seniors, $9-$20 adults at Taco Bell Arena box office or BroncoSports.com/tickets