Sunday, February 20, 2011

Huge Week in Bronco Sports

Four conference titles and a slew of important games, meets and matches are on tap next week for Boise State.  The Broncos are in the running for three of those league championships.

The Boise State swimming and diving team will attempt to defend their WAC crown against surging San Jose State and a solid Hawai'i team when the WAC Championships are decided this Wednesday through Saturday in San Antonio, Texas.  Boise State will host the WAC Indoor Track Championships Thursday through Saturday at Jackson's Track in Nampa.  The Utah State men are favored by about 18 points but the Bronco men will try to overcome that.  Louisiana Tech is once again the solid favorite to take the women's crown.

There may be revenge on the minds of the Bronco wrestlers when they head to Corvallis to compete in the Pac-10 Wrestling Championships.  It was Oregon State that stole the thunder away from Boise State last year by winning the Pac-10 title by two points over Coach Greg Randall's team.  Boise State came back from Stillwater bruised, battered and disappointed after getting mopped up by Oklahoma State.  How will they respond to that?

As if all that wasn't enough, the #11 Boise State gymnastics team will try to move up the rankings with two home meets, hosting Wisconsin at 7 p.m. Friday and Utah State Sunday afternoon at 2.  The Broncos are hoping to score at least 196 in both events to improve their chances of making it to Nationals.

The Boise State men's basketball team has been getting it done lately and head out on the road for two WAC battles with Fresno State and Nevada.  The men's tennis team is at the acclaimed Blue-Gray Tennis Classic in Alabama Friday through Sunday while the #44 women's team hosts Arizona Friday afternoon at 1:30.  Meanwhile, the Bronco softball team returns to Las Vegas for games against UNLV, UC Riverside and Cal State Northridge this weekend.

That's a lot to follow for one fan in one week!  I'll help you out here on this blog with information, analysis and results.

Bronco Gymnasts Getting it Done on the Road

This week is scheduled to be the week that the NCAA gymnastics ratings convert to the Regional Qualifying Score (RQS).  I want to take a look at that because it reveals something of particular interest to Bronco fans.

The RQS is calculated by taking a team's top three road scores, the top three remaining scores (home or away), dropping the high score, and averaging the remaining five.  Boise State has spent the early portion of the season on the road and ringing up amazing scores, while teams ranked ahead of them (Florida and Utah in particular) have been winning at home.  Because of the way the RQS is calculated, road scores are quite important in the formula.  Boise State has posted three of its four highest scores of the season on the road (the 196.250 at Utah State, the 195.925 at San Jose State and the 195.000 at #6 Alabama).

Boise State should come in at #11 in the RQS rankings with a 195.223--Stanford should come in #3 this week with196.585, idle Oregon State will remain at 195.935, Nebraska should have a 195.595, UCLA a 195.355, Arkansas a 195.100, Washington a 195.035, Ohio State a 194.975 and Denver a 194.961.  Utah, Oklahoma, Alabama and Georgia should hold down positions 2, 4, 5 and 6, respectively.  Current #1 Florida does not have enough road meets yet.

What this means is that Boise State's best score of the year, which happened to be on the road, is being thrown out.  Typically a team's best scores are at home.  You can contribute that to comfort level, home cooking, or whatever.  Because the Broncos have not hosted many meets yet (they have three in a row coming up), a golden opportunity lies before them.  Boise State is currently counting their lone disappointing meet of the season (a 194.40 loss at Arizona) in their RQS.  They are also counting their 194.575 score from their season opening meet at Washington.  Thus, if the Broncos can score 196 or better in two of their three home meets, they get to remove both of those sub-195 scores from their RQS calculation.

"If's" never count for anything; Boise State has to go out and achieve in front of their home fans who are eager to have their team back in Boise.  But two 196 team scores at home would gain Boise State a whopping 5/10th's of a point in their RQS.  In gymnastics, that's a big number.  At present, it would put the Broncos at 195.7, more in line with teams like Michigan, Nebraska and Oregon State.  Yes, I said Oregon State, which as I have pointed out is a team that the Broncos will have to defeat at the Western Regionals to qualify for the NCAA Gymnastics Championships.  I also said that in order to do that, Boise State pretty much has to be seen by the judges and the gymnastics world at being roughly the equal of the Beavers.  You see where I'm going with this.  With two 196 scores at home, Boise State would be there.

Therefore, the next three home meets are going to be fun to watch.  The team has put itself in a position of extreme pressure but only because they are so talented.  They've had pressure before and have handled it well.  Time to take the next step up.

Boise State Claims Thrilling Win over UCSB

La’Shard Anderson’s basket at the buzzer helped Boise State to a dramatic 78-76 overtime win over UC Santa Barbara last night in California.

Orlando Johnson’s three-pointer with 8.5 seconds remaining tied the game at 76.  Wes Perryman launched his own three-point shot for the Broncos that caromed off, but Anderson was there to grab the rebound and score the winner.

After Boise State scored the first two points of the overtime, the Gauchos came back to take a 69-66 lead with 3:22 remaining.  Anderson’s lay-up cut the lead to one, but Will Brew nailed a three-pointer from the corner to put UCSB ahead 72-68.  Paul Noonan aced a pair of free throws and following a Gaucho turnover, Anderson hit two more to tie the game with 1:21 left.  Johnson was fouled on a drive to the hoop but made just one of two free throws. 

Anderson penetrated the Santa Barbara defense for a lay-up to give the Broncos a one-point lead (74-73) with 53 seconds remaining.  Johnson missed an opportunity from close range on the ensuing possession, but James Nunnally was there to collect the rebound and draw a foul.  However, Nunnally misfired on both attempts and the Broncos had the ball and the lead with 36 seconds remaining.

Noonan was fouled with 18 seconds left and sank both shots to set the stage for the exciting finish.

Boise State Head Coach Leon Rice has his team taking excellent care of the basketball in his first season.  The Broncos were under 10 turnovers again last night (6).  Boise State could hold the national lead in turnover margin following this weekend’s action. 

Free throws played a significant role in the game.  Boise State was 31-39 from the line while UCSB sank 26-of-33.

Boise State overcame deficits of 26-21 and 30-24 to battle back.  A Noonan three-pointer brought the score to 26-23 and Daequon Montreal’s lay-up answered the second run of the first half for the Gauchos. 

Noonan became the 20th player in school history to join the 1,000 career points club; Noonan led Boise State with 20 points last night.   Montreal netted 19 points and grabbed eight rebounds; Anderson finished with 18, nine assists, five rebounds, four steals and two blocked shots and consistently harassed the Gaucho guards.  "He (Anderson) was pretty crafty with the ball when he got into the paint," said UCSB’s Johnson. "He also has quick hands and kind of disrupted us at times."  Anderson came into the game 15th in the country in steals with 2.4 and improved upon that average with his performance in California last night.  Jeff Elorriaga also scored a career-high 10 for the Broncos.

Johnson - who forced overtime by making two free throws with four seconds left in regulation - had 25 points and James Nunnally 21 for the Gauchos.  UCSB shot 50% from the arc (8-16) to keep the game close.  Johnson added nine rebounds and three blocked shots for the Gauchos while Nunnally had six rebounds.  Jaime Serna, who was returning from a groin injury, had 10 points, seven boards, three blocked shots and three assists. 

Coach Rice’s Broncos won for the third consecutive game to advance their record to 15-11. Boise State has important conference games next week at Fresno State and Nevada.  UCSB dropped to 14-11 with the home loss.