After 25 regular season games and nearly 100 practices, the Boise State men’s basketball team finally got a breather heading into today’s 6 p.m. contest at Colorado State.
It’s going to need it.
With six games remaining before the Mountain West Conference tournament and the Broncos still needing to do some work to get back on the NCAA bubble, their brief rest is likely the last one they will get as they begin a final push toward the end of the season.
With an odd number of teams in the conference this season, it was Boise State’s turn to sit over the weekend after defeating New Mexico last Wednesday. And they took advantage of it.
The players got two consecutive days off on Thursday and Friday — a rarity in the middle of the season — while the coaching staff went out recruiting. They reconvened on Saturday to shoot and lift weights before two full practices on Sunday and Monday.
“They were a little banged up and a little bruised up and I pushed them pretty hard,” Boise State coach Leon Rice said Monday. “It gives us a refreshed sense going into the stretch run.
“It felt like we had two great practices. They bounced around really good. I think they are refreshed, rejuvenated and ready to go, but we know we have our work cut out for us.”
The reason for the Broncos’ fatigue is due to a number of reasons. The NCAA allowed teams to begin practicing two weeks earlier this season and Boise State (16-9, 6-6 Mountain West) didn’t get the traditional Christmas break that most teams get due to playing in the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii.
The Broncos also played with primarily an eight-man rotation for much of the season, but senior starter Jeff Elorriaga missed two games since injuring his back on Feb. 1 against UNLV and played just two minutes against New Mexico.
Elorriaga will continue to be a game-time decision while dealing with lower back pain stemming from a broken bone. Rice has used his bench more the past two games in an effort to keep his starters fresh late in games and said that will continue moving forward.
“I think it was costing us down the stretch and it was costing us on the defensive end probably the biggest,” Rice said of fatigue. “It’s going to help us.”
Colorado State (14-12, 5-8 MW) has a 20-point win over UNLV on its resume and two players — J.J. Avila and Daniel Bejarano — that average more than 16 points per game.
It’s the first of four road games among the final stretch of six to finish the regular season. And sitting in sixth place in the Mountain West standings, the Broncos hope to get on a roll as the conference tournament approaches.
“We have a lot of work we can still do,” Rice said. “We have some good things ahead of us.”
Tip off is scheduled for 7 p.m. from the Moby Arena in Fort Collins, Colo., and can be seen on ESPN3.