In a season filled with the highest highs and the lowest lows, the Boise State men’south basketball game team turned a seemingly hopeless season into the university’s first outright Mount West championship.
Subsequently losing their star guard Derrick Alston Jr. concluding year, media members who cover the conference started to feel uncertain on how Boise Land would perform this season.
This ultimately led to the team existence projected to end fourth in the Mountain West behind Colorado Country, San Diego Country and Nevada, co-ordinate to the Mountain Westward men’s basketball preseason poll.
Boise State performed well in their first v games of the season simply lost two close games to the University of California, Irvine (UC Irvine) and St. Bonaventure.
Fans started to worry subsequently California Country Academy of Bakersfield (CSU Bakersfield) defeated Boise State at home 39-46.
“In my 12 years, that was the worst offensive brandish I’ve seen,” caput coach Leon Rice said after the game against CSU Bakersfield. “We’ve got a chance to exist really skillful considering our defense is and then practiced, merely you can’t win whatsoever games if you can’t put the ball in the hoop. I mean, that’south unreal.”
To make matters worse, Boise Land then lost to Saint Louis, making the team sit down expressionless last in the Mountain West with a record of three-4.
Boise State had lost four of their kickoff seven games in a conference where a team can only beget to lose around eight games to yet take a gamble at a championship. Information technology seemed unlikely that the Broncos could bounciness back and win the Mountain West championship.
“I scheduled this year similar this on purpose — to build us for the end,” Rice said after the Saint Louis game. “I wouldn’t do it with a young squad, because it’southward tough. And it’s dark afterwards night after nighttime. But it’due south forcing us to face issues. It’s forcing u.s.a. to become better. And we’re going to. I’ve got resilient guys that care about each other and they’re gonna battle.”
As the team did not have the start that they had planned, tensions started to rising in the locker room.
For their game against Saint Louis, Rice decided to start freshman forward Tyson Degenhart over senior guard Devonaire Doutrive. Doutrive only played 13 minutes against Saint Louis and started to become disinterested on the sideline during the second one-half, according to B.J. Rains from Bronco Nation News.
Doutrive later indicated that he was in New York a twenty-four hour period earlier the team’southward game against Tulsa. This acquired many to wonder about where he stood with the team.
A Boise State spokesperson then confirmed that Doutrive was no longer a part of the team earlier the squad faced Tulsa.
Boise Land has yet not given a clear explanation equally to what transpired betwixt Doutrive and the squad, but Rice had brought up the squad’south culture and desire to win every time he was asked almost Doutrive.
On top of the Doutrive situation, many news sources started to tear the team apart by calling out all of their biggest flaws.
Co-ordinate to Rice, his squad was labeled as the “worst complimentary throw shooting team” in the country.
Information technology wasn’t just fans and media outlets picking autonomously the squad’due south free throw shooting. Other teams were as well.
Rice even believed that Prairie View A&M had sent them to the complimentary throw line a nation-loftier 52 times in order to try to exploit the squad’south biggest weakness.
Despite all of the narratives, the team stayed together and focused on playing i game at a fourth dimension.
Post-obit their loss to Saint Louis, Rice wrote every opponent the squad had on a whiteboard in the locker room. Subsequently the squad had seen their time to come opponents, Rice erased all just their next opponent.
Rice repeated this process later on every game, erasing the prior opponent and writing their next opponent on the board. He wanted his team to only focus on the game in front of them, rather than stress about their current record.
“Nosotros put it on the board when we were three-iv and we said: ‘We tin win every game. Let’south do it,’” Rice said. “We tin’t win them all at one time, but one at a time nosotros can win. They were dialed in to that and they were all nodding their heads.”
With the fate of the flavour on the line, players started to step up and atomic number 82 the team, including freshman frontward Tyson Degenhart who had played well up to this point in the season and had earned his first kickoff against Saint Louis.
“It was definitely a surreal moment. Information technology’s been a dream of mine to commencement in a Division I game, and it happened this night and that was cool,” Degenhart said after his start start. “But overall, I wanted the win but we didn’t get it.”
Seniors Abu Kigab and Marcus Shaver Jr. also started to maintain a high level of play.
“I really await up to Abu and the fashion I saw him work this summer,” Degenhart said in an interview on the Hold The Mic podcast. “He was in the gym all of the fourth dimension and was just busting his butt off to get ready for the flavour. He really puts his heart and soul into the game and yous can see how much he loves the game and that is something I want to take from him.”
These leaders helped their team deliver a solid 63-58 win over Tulsa. The Broncos were slowly improving on their flaws.
“Definitely needed a win. I’1000 proud of our guys,” said fifth-year forward Abu Kigab after the game against Tulsa. “Nosotros had a lot of adversity throughout the game, and they just kept fighting, man. It but shows the resolve of this team.”
Despite Boise State holding a 6-game win streak at this point in the season, the Broncos were more than focused on the next task at manus.
“Everyone wants to talk almost the streak and we don’t give a…” Rice said after the game against UNLV. “We are staying in the present. We don’t care about [the streak].”
The fans and media, yet, wanted to meet how the team would fare heading into conference play.
“The Mount W is unbelievable. We’ve got very strong teams throughout,” Kigab said. “We don’t disappoint. We come up out and play hard every single night, and I remember that’s a characteristic every team has when you really wait down the line.”
Boise Land’s built-up momentum helped them roll by Fresno Country, Nevada, New Mexico and Air Force.
The team then powered through tough games for vital conference wins against Utah State, San Diego State, Wyoming and Fresno State, bringing their streak to its summit of 14 games. In each of these games, the Broncos trailed within two minutes left.
“[Banana motorbus Tim] Duryea used to coach at Utah State so we got him with some water after the Utah State game,” Degenhart said. “Subsequently the San Diego State game, we were just going nuts in the locker room.”
The team’due south nigh notable win was against Fresno State in their second matchup of the season.
“After the Fresno State game, we had some water bottles and we just started going crazy,” Degenhart said. “We were throwing them and getting water over everyone. Information technology was definitely i of the near memorable locker room settings that I accept always been in in my life.”
According to ESPN, Boise State had a 3% adventure of winning after trailing 50-53 with iii seconds left in the game.
Despite these odds, redshirt senior guard Marcus Shaver Jr. landed a clutch iii-point buzzer-beater, forcing the game into overtime where Boise Country would ultimately win 68-63.
“It is those shots that Shaver [Jr.] hit,” Degenhart said when asked most his nigh memorable moments in the streak. “But being there and the emotion of the moment is just something I will never forget.”
After winning 14 sequent games, Boise Land eventually lost their streak in their 2d matchup against Wyoming.
Even though they had lost their streak, they managed to set up their biggest consequence — their free throw shooting.
Before the streak, the team shot 42.9% (half-dozen-14) against Temple, 47.vi% (ten-21) confronting Ole Miss and 46.2% (12-26) confronting Saint Louis. Boise State so shot 81.8% (9-11) confronting San Diego State, 72.2% (xiii-xviii) against Wyoming and lxxx% (8-10) against Fresno State during the streak.
The concluding stretch
Boise State went 7-2 since losing their streak and finished the season off with xv-three in their briefing and 24-7 overall.
After beating Nevada in their second to last game of the season, Boise State was awarded their showtime outright Mountain West championship.
This is the 3rd time they have been awarded a conference title later on previously winning the Large Heaven conference title in 1988 and splitting the honors with San Diego State in the Mountain West conference in 2015.
“To win it outright, when you look at the conference schedule, we probably had the toughest schedule,” Rice said. “And then to do what nosotros did and be up two games on everybody with the schedule we played, we played every top team two times. It was remarkable what these guys did.”
The Broncos went from being labeled the “worst free throw shooting team in the state” to becoming the outright Mountain Due west champions in ane flavour.
“It’s simply unreal,” Shaver Jr. said. “It feels good to go this title after the flavor nosotros had last year. It’s just a great feeling. This team deserves it.”
The team was also ane win away from tying the school record for most wins in a regular season with 25.
Now that the team has finished off the regular season, they still have much more to reach in the Mountain Westward and NCAA tournaments.
The team volition be the outset seed in the Mountain West conference and have a get-go-round goodbye. They volition then face up off confronting the winner of the Nevada vs. New Mexico game in the second round of the tournament.
The Broncos are expected to be selected for the NCAA tournament, but will not know for sure until Pick Dominicus on Mar. 13.
Boise State is projected to be a 7th or eighth seed in the NCAA tournament and could be playing sometime between March fifteen and March 19 for the first round.
Regardless of how far the Broncos go in both tournaments, the 2021-22 season will exist remembered equally one of the greatest seasons in Boise State history.