Boise State Fresno State BASKETBALL19.JPG

Boise State guard Emmanuel Akot (14) drives the ball toward the net during a game against Fresno State on Dec. 28 at ExtraMile Arena.

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The Boise State men’s basketball team will certainly be well traveled over the course of the next week.

The Broncos’ 85-70 win at Nevada on Wednesday started a 10-day stretch which will see them play five games in five different states.

Game 2 of the gauntlet is today, when the Broncos take on New Mexico at 3:30 p.m. in Albuquerque.

“One of the keys to climbing these big mountains we have to climb game after game after game is staying in the moment and doing the task at hand, whatever’s next,” Boise State coach Leon Rice said. “I want our guys to understand we don’t start looking at the top of the mountain, we just look at the next step. I think our team and staff is doing a good job at that.”

After flying back to Boise following today’s game, the Broncos (11-4, 2-0 Mountain West) are scheduled to host Air Force on Tuesday before busing to Utah State for a game Thursday, then flying out from Logan, Utah, to San Diego State for a game next Saturday.

Including the round trip to Reno, Nevada, earlier this week, that’s nearly 5,000 miles the Broncos will have traveled during the five-game stretch.

Fortunately for Boise State, most of that traveling will be done through the air, including charter flights to and from New Mexico. But Rice knows that it will be a tough stretch physically for the Broncos, so he will have to find time to give the players breaks.

“It’s a fine balance between how much you can do,” Rice said. “You want to do more, you want to do more, but you’re also like ‘OK, the most important thing is our health and how hard we play.’ If you know all 50 of their plays, that’s probably secondary. As coaches you get caught up wanting them to know that stuff. But with experience, you learn (health) is the most important thing.”

The stretch is a result of the Mountain West having to shift around the schedule as a result of the omicron surge of the COVID-19 pandemic causing havoc on the league. It comes after a week-long pause for the Broncos after several members of the team tested positive for the virus prior to a scheduled game against Wyoming on New Year’s Day.

Boise State had to postpone three games during its week away, including the Utah State game, which was moved from Jan. 4 to Thursday. On Tuesday, the league moved up the game at New Mexico, which had originally been scheduled for Feb. 8, after the Lobos’ original opponent, San Diego State, had to cancel due to their own COVID-19 concerns. Games at Wyoming and at home against Colorado State have not yet been rescheduled.

Boise State will enter today’s game on an eight-game winning streak, one that dates back to the beginning of December. Having a team that is on a hot streak, like the Broncos are, Rice said he definitely wants to be able to practice more to help the team continue the build on its momentum. But he also knows there’s value in giving players time off.

“You want to be out there with them,” Rice said. “But you want them fresh and excited, so when we do get together, we’re excited and not just dragging through things or going through any kind of motion, we’re getting stuff done.”

John Wustrow is the assistant sports editor of the Idaho Press. He is a Michigan native and a graduate of Indiana University.

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