Dancing Broncos: Day 1 in Dayton
March 17, 2015
All that's left is the next game on the schedule.
Boise State men's basketball arrived in Dayton, Ohio, Monday evening in advance of the seventh NCAA Tournament appearance in school history and completed much of its off-the-floor responsibilities Tuesday, with a press conference and open practice. The Broncos (25-8) earned a No. 11 seed in the tournament and a date with No. 11 seed Dayton (25-8) in the First Round by winning 15 of their final 17 games and claiming the Mountain West regular season championship.
"This run has been fun," said Rob Heyer, "but we're not ready to look back on the season yet. We're still looking to go 1-0, and then continue on this streak."
They won each of those games by approaching it as the next game. With a 0-3 start in conference play putting their backs against the wall, the Broncos reeled off eight consecutive wins, dropped one, then won seven in a row to capture the conference crown.
So how is Boise State preparing to fight for the first NCAA Tournament win in program history?
"I mean, nothing changes," said Derrick Marks said at the team's press conference. "It's just we just have one more game. We're still going to do what we have to do. And nothing's going to change because it's the NCAA Tournament. We're going to keep doing what got us here."
A win Wednesday, would put Boise State in the field of 64 for the first time since 2008. It would also present a matchup with No. 6 seed Providence. But as has become customary for the Broncos this season, the team is not worried about what could be next. Heyer and Marks are among the five seniors on the Bronco roster. They know from here on out, the next game could be their last in the blue and orange.
"Before practice we had a talk that us seniors feel like our back is up against the wall," said Marks. "And we don't want tomorrow to be our last time that we put on a Boise State jersey. So we're going to do everything we can for that not to happen."
Dayton, of course has other plans in mind. The Flyers will become the first team to play on its home floor in the NCAA Tournament since 1987, and home-court advantage rings especially true at UD Arena. Dayton is 16-0 at home this season and has won its last 21 games in their home building.
Boise State head coach Leon Rice was quick to dismiss the theory of the Broncos having to rise to a challenge most tournament teams don't have to worry about.
"I think the media has hammered us on, oh, you're playing in Dayton against Dayton, is that motivation? And the motivation is we're playing a really good basketball team," Rice said. "The motivation is we're playing in the NCAA Tournament. The motivation is they don't want it to be their last game. You don't need those outside media things to motivate you at this time of year. And if you do you're probably in big trouble right now. But that's the greatest thing about these guys. They want to keep playing. They want to keep playing together. And when you get a situation like that, those are the kinds of teams that play great."
Rice and his squad got accustom to the confines at UD Arena during their open practice time Tuesday afternoon. The Broncos ran through fundamental drills, shooting exercises and showed off for the crowd with a dunk/layup exhibition to close the session.
Boise State continued its preparation with a closed practice on the campus of Wright State.
The Broncos and Flyers will tip off at approximately 9:10 p.m. ET/7:10 p.m. MT Wednesday, in the final game of the First Four. The winner will load a bus following the game and head for Columbus, Ohio, the site of their second road game.
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