Boise State basketball coach Leon Rice on James Webb III, San Diego State
“I kind of expected someone to do this a long time ago,” Tanoka Beard said with a laugh from his hometown of Ogden, Utah.
The former Boise State basketball great has spent 23 years atop the Broncos’ record book as the all-time leading scorer with 1,944 points. Coming into Saturday’s game at San Diego State, current senior guard/forward Anthony Drmic has 1,887, and he is on pace to break the record with a minimum of four games remaining.
“I’m really happy for him,” Beard said. “I didn’t shoot one 3-pointer when I was there, so I figured it had to happen eventually, and he can shoot it. He has range. I like how Drmic plays. He came in with a more mature game than what I had.”
Beard, who played from 1993-2009 in nine different countries, hopes to help get more kids college-ready, like Drmic was coming out of Australia. In 2012, he started Ogden Pride Ballers, training players of all ages and income levels, many who play for local AAU teams.
“I had a lot of good influences growing up, but I just played off instinct,” Beard said. “It wasn’t really until I got to Boise State I was really coached or had that sort of training.”
In addition to helping out with his knowledge of the game, Beard takes pride in being able to be a positive influence in the place where he grew up. Soon after starting Ogden Pride Ballers, he recalls seeing a kid at the local community center who could shoot the ball well, but knew it wouldn’t be easy to get him involved.
“He had more tattoos than a lot of guys I’ve seen, and he was going into ninth grade,” Beard said. “... He grew up around gang culture, but eventually you saw he wanted more for himself.”
That young man now carries a GPA between 3.8 and 4.0, and Beard often goes to his high school games.
Though he hasn’t been to a Boise State home game since he graduated, Beard said he would love to return in the near future. Before ending an interview Friday, he had one last thing to say:
“(I would) tell Drmic, ‘Just go for it.’ Don’t worry about getting there, it’ll come. I’ll be watching, cheering for him to do it.”
POSTSEASON POSSIBILITIES APLENTY
Boise State still has its sights set on an NCAA Tournament berth, but the only path would be to win the Mountain West Tournament championship March 12. The Broncos are currently seen as an NIT bubble team, though their standing has slipped quite a bit in recent weeks.
The Broncos are 95th in RPI, and only two at-large teams lower than that were selected last year, both from Power 5 conferences.
That means three other postseason landing spots: the College Basketball Invitational, the CollegeInsider.com Tournament or the new Vegas 16. A Boise State spokesman said the school is focused on the NCAA Tournament, but is open to discussing the other tournaments when the time is appropriate.
The NIT is the most prestigious of the non-NCAA tournaments. Its TV options are best, and it is seeded by the NCAA, with no extra cost to host a game. However, if the Broncos were to make it, they likely would go on the road. Last year, it cost schools a reported $50,000 to host a CBI game and approximately $35,000 to host a CIT contest.
The Vegas 16 is an intriguing option. It is held at one place (Mandalay Bay), televised on CBS Sports Network and will run from March 26-30, giving fans a little time to plan a trip.
THE RIVALRY CONTINUES
In 11 matchups as Mountain West members, Boise State and San Diego State have played thriller after thriller, the entire series has been decided by four total points (Aztecs 674, Broncos 670).
Though Viejas Arena has been a nightmare for most opponents, Boise State has always fared well, losing by two, one and three points before the Broncos’ 56-46 win there Feb. 28, 2015.
San Diego State won the first meeting this season on Jan. 16, a 56-53 win in which Boise State was 1-of-17 from 3-point range. Against a tough Aztec defense, albeit with an anemic offense, rebounding will be of huge importance. Boise State is 13-1 this season when outrebounding teams. In their win at San Diego State last season, the Broncos had a 42-30 edge. When the Aztecs won in Boise last month, they had a 42-30 edge.
With junior forward James Webb III possibly out for the game with an MCL sprain, losing his 9.4 rebounds per game would be a big loss, which the Broncos would need to fill with a team effort.
“It’s the same thing against (San Diego State), their formula is the same, and we need to execute ours at a higher level than we did here, and No. 1 is rebounding,” Boise State coach Leon Rice said.
ANOTHER YEAR FOR RICE
Boise State’s 81-69 win over UNLV on Tuesday was the Broncos’ 18th of the season, and that means a one-year extension for Rice.
Rice’s altered contract agreement in 2014 included an automatic extension whenever Boise State reached 18 wins or made the NCAA Tournament. He will be under contract through the 2020-21 season with the rollover.
His former deal called for the extension when the team reached 20 wins, but it was reduced to 18 after Washington State made a push to hire him. He now gets an $8,000 bonus for reaching 20 wins.
Boise State (18-10, 9-6 MW) at San Diego State (21-7, 14-1)
- When: 4 p.m. Saturday
- Where: Viejas Arena (12,414), San Diego
- TV: CBS Sports Network
- Radio: KBOI 670 AM/KTIK 93.1 FM
Boise State women seek to end skid against Aztecs
- When: 2 p.m. Saturday
- Where: Taco Bell Arena
- Radio: 1350 KTIK AM
- Records: Boise State 16-10, 9-6 Mountain West; San Diego State 11-15, 6-9
- Tickets: $6 (adults), $4 (seniors/youth)
- Notes: Boise State has lost four straight games and is tied for third in the Mountain West standings. A win and losses by New Mexico and Utah State would assure a first-round bye in the conference tournament March 7-11. ... The Aztecs are 7-3 all-time against the Broncos, though Boise State has won the last two and routed SDSU 75-45 on Jan. 16. ... The Aztecs have won five straight and are led by sophomore guard McKynzie Fort (14.5 points per game).