A Letter to Brooke Pahukoa & the Lady Broncos

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Dear Brooke & Broncos

I am writing this letter to let you know we noticed. We noticed the heart, the fight, the determination, and the effort you gave against Tennessee. Don’t let the result get you down, we all saw you put on an incredible show and you deserve the accolades to go with it. Brooke, your performance against the Vols is something that will go down in history for Boise State Women’s Basketball. The future is bright, and I am here to tell you I will be at your games. You made Bronco Nation proud against all odds, and it was something to behold. You put the Mountain West Conference and the rest of the NCAA on notice today, and we couldn’t be prouder to be  Broncos. Few performances have been as inspiring as yours was today. We have watched a lot of basketball in our time, and what you did today was truly amazing. Once again congratulations, and thank you for choosing to showcase your skills in a Bronco uniform.

To Coach Presnell, and the rest of the Broncos. Congratulations on a great season, your heart and determination was truly inspiring. We all saw the odds you faced, (In Tennessee, the refs against you, ESPN even calling the game in favor of the Vols.) you ladies never quit and you represented Boise State with incredible pride and sportsmanship. To all of the seniors, congratulations on finishing an incredible season. To those of you who will be back, see you next season. We can’t wait to see how you follow up an incredible performance.

Best Regards,

Bronco Nation

Attack The Opponent: Everyone

Perhaps it’s fitting that the both the Men’s and Women’s NCAA Tournament Committees are burying the Broncos and their Idaho loving faithful in shoulder chips leading into March Madness.

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The women’s team got seeded to start tournament play vs. Tennessee in Knoxville, so while it would be fantastic if Bronco Nation could show up to support the team and all, it’s still the powerhouse of the Lady Vols on their home turf we’re talking about here. The 2 seed vs. the 15. Real David and Goliath stuff. Winning can happen for the correct orange and blue, but it’s going to take a perfect storm to get there.

The men also are between a rock and a hard place – their last venture on to the court ended in a stupid miracle banked three pointer in OT with what seemed like half the team unable to make anything happen offensively. That half included MW Player of the Year, Derrick Marks. It was as heartbreaking as it was infuriating to watch. But now, they’re back in Dayton, OH for the second time in 3 years, facing off against yet another fire hot team in the hometown Dayton Flyers. Dayton finished second in the Atlantic Ten, and some of their fans felt slighted by having to go to the play-in game. There’s some less than enthused faces around the player’s table during the announcement as well. These boys are ready to cause a bloodbath on their way to the Sweet 16 and Boise is just in the way. Shoulder chips all around, then!

However, it depends on point of view. Yes, Dayton is a very good basketball team riding a home winning streak in a tough conference. So were Utah State, SDSU, and New Mexico. The venue and experience of playing in Dayton won’t be new to the leadership of this team. If the Broncos are loose and ready to go, this game will be a metaphorical fist fight full of three-ball haymakers. The home team is a walking, talking, shot-sinking highlight reel, not unlike some other gentlemen we know.

The Flyers are a scrappy, small-ball team that shoots 35% from the arc and averages 68 points. They’re led by senior Jordan Siebert, a guard who averages just under 17 points a game. There are three point threats all over their squad, which I guess is the tradeoff when you don’t have a player over 6’6 on the roster. James Webb III and Rob Heyer should be gorging themselves on the boards all night. However, that means that the big time Boise defense that we saw in the thick of the run through the MWC better return in force. The Flyers are fast and dangerous, scoring 68.2 ppg and holding teams to 60.9 points on average. Boise State is just as stingy on defense, but has been averaging 70.8 ppg.

Also have to remember that Dayton was last season’s Cinderella. They made a run to the Elite 8. They also have fought through some tough stuff, with their starting big guys all dismissed from the team amongst…circumstances…and having to regroup in January. Huh. I mean, it’s not exactly the MWC POY candidate in the midst of having a stellar senior season getting injured and having another senior stand up and put the team on his back leading to a stellar conference campaign and POY accolades for him, and the team tied for first place in the regular season, but it’s a pretty good story.

Thinking in the context of giant killers, this is probably new ground for Dayton. They spent last season winning the country’s collective hearts and minds with their improbable run, and now they are the home team against what is probably the biggest name connected with the idea of a Cinderella in Division 1. Sport be damned. Of course, that line of thought won’t matter much if the Boise State Broncos that Wyoming has managed to tame all season show up in Dayton on Wednesday. Because bricking three pointers and allowing anybody and everybody to drive to the basket willy-nilly will not a win make.

With it basically being a home game for Dayton (even though the Broncos will be in their home whites), the fact that, well, Dayton has won in the Dance before and the Broncos have not stacks the deck some. It felt fortunate to even get to the play-in game with the way the committee was hosing the mid-majors this season (Sorry, CSU, but your tears are still delicious.) On the other hand, Boise State has been very good at spoiling other team’s good times at home. IF Derrick Marks plays his A game AND Nick Duncan can get hot AND Webbie does what he should on the boards and Hutchison plays some stellar, lights out defense and IF Rob Heyer and Montigo Alford both are on their collective game and can cut down the outside threat as well as protect the paint effectively, then, it’s going to be a real good time. The Broncos did that a lot this season. Now they just need to do it again. Everything after this game is a bonus.

It’s truly a great year to be a Bronco fan. Football champions, regular season men’s basketball co-champs, women’s basketball tournament champions. So much hardware coming to Boise, we’re going to have to start storing them at the University of Idaho downtown campus offices. Running out of space over there Vandals, sorry. They’re in preparations over across the river, yanno. It’s the Broncos vs. the World.

Why This One Was Special – The Coaches Bleed Blue

635523439815040361-USP-NCAA-FOOTBALL-BOISE-STATE-AT-WYOMING-68949140Take out the records, take out the stats, take out the implications for the program. Seriously take all of those things out, and this one is still special. Perhaps even more so than the previous two Fiesta Bowl wins. Before this season however I would have never even thought that possible. Then, I rushed the field, I heard Harsin speak after winning the MWC Championship game, and it all started to line up. This season really meant everything to this program. And maybe to the outside world this is just another bowl game, another moment Boise State upset the big boys. But when you listened to Bryan Harsin on the mic after winning another Fiesta Bowl, you knew this one was special for a lot of different reasons. This game keeps Boise State relevant yes, it keeps Boise State in the discussions for all those important topics like expansion, and playoffs. But more than that, this was a win by a bunch of guys and coaches who truly “bleed blue”.

After the game was over on TV, I quickly went to my car to listen to the post game show. I am glad I did, because everything I was starting to believe about this game, this win, was solidified when Mike Sanford was interviewed by Bob Behler. The emotion that ran throughAnne-Marie-Sanford-2014-3-425x425 his words was palpable, his tears of joy noticeable, even on the radio. He stated it made him proud to sing HIS fight song, to represent the school that “made him a man”. It was these words, this emotion, this understanding that very well might have saved a program. These coaches instilled the values that make Boise State special. From day 1, this coaching staff knew that to be a Bronco, you have to work hard, have that blue collar mentality, and earn everything that is presented to you. This is a program that has continued to rise despite all the odds, and this game, this season was no different. That is why this game was so pivotal, why this win matters so much, why these coaches are so important, and why this Fiesta Bowl win is so special.

Congratulations players, coaches, and Bronco Nation! Have a Happy New Year, and enjoy the win!

BTN Predictions: Fiesta Bowl vs. Arizona

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Derek

Here we are.  Game day for the Vizio Fiesta bowl has arrived, and I can not believe we are here.  Before the season began I thought we had a chance at a NY6 bowl.  After the Ole Miss loss I was still optimistic.  Then came the Air Force debacle and I thought all hope was lost.  But what do you know, Harsin gets our team on a run and we are back to where all the magic happened in 2007 and 2010.

This game is a tough one to predict.  I can go off all the stats and look at the match-ups and go from there, but it seems like all that goes out the window during bowl season.  At this point I think the most prepared and focused team will win. Based on everything that I am hearing about Boise State, I think they are that team. The Bronco defense will struggle to slow down Arizona, but the Wildcats will have the same problem stopping Grant Hedrick, Jay Ajayi, SWR and The Weapon. I do think it will be close though.  Vegas says Arizona will win by 4 with a score in the mid 30’s for both.  I say the same but with Boise State edging out a win on a late field goal.  Boise State 34 Arizona 31

Noel

This will be my last time this season, and this calendar year, to get this right.  I’m going to agree with Derek on this and say it will come down to the more focused team.  The Broncos have run off 8 straight wins and the Wildcats just took a beating from Oregon.  I think that translates to the field 3 weeks later and causes an incredibly slow start from Arizona.  They won’t survive the initial deluge of awesomeness and will succumb to a final collegiate dose of the Jay Train being forced down their throat.  Final score – Boise State 42 Arizona 27

Tami

This game is going to be stupid close. The match-up is a nightmare. The teams are both highly focused, very talented, and capable of winning this. It’s going to come down to want and preparation…and Boise is a dangerous group of young men when they want to win and have nearly a month to get ready.

Hold on to your sombreros and flat screens, boys, this is going to be just as wild as the rest of the Fiestas. There are many touchdowns in our collective future! Boise wins a close one with an epic final college performance by both Grant Hedrick and Jay Ajayi. Broncos – 49, Wildcats – 48

 

Heath

Last prediction of the season, and I don’t know where to start. I feel like this game is going to be close, I feel like this will emulate Fiesta’s past. The 3-5-5 is a thorn in Grant’s side that he has one more shot to fully conquer, question is will he? I hope so, and I think he will have a solid game. I actually think the game rests on Grant’s arm and not Ajayi’s legs like many believe. Jay is going to get touches, what he does with those won’t decide the game unless he goes off on a historic fashion. The thing that will decide this game is whether or not we can convert 3rd down. I think we will, and I think we win this game and take home our 3rd Fiesta Bowl Trophy. My final score – Boise State 28 – Arizona 17.

Gage

Oh joy! It’s finally here. The match up previews can only contain my anxiousness for so long and my usual limit is three. Then I start thinking … I am tired of talking about, can it just be game day already. No.More.Talking…. It.Is.Go.Time !!!

I am skeptical to believe that Grant Hedrick can carry us through a game of this magnitude. I should have no reason to believe he can’t do his consistent performance from the past 8 games, but turnover Grant looms in the back of mind and I always fear he may reappear. With just about three weeks to prepare for the Broncos, I can guarantee Arizona has their defense ready to stop Jay Ajayi at all costs. I don’ see Arizona allowing the Jay-Train to beat them, thus placing the burden on Grant’s shoulders. If Grant is able to be turnover free and continue his stellar play as of late – we win. If not – we lose. I truly think it is simple as that. So… closing my eyes and throwing all my chips in on Grant Hedrick. And it wouldn’t be a Boise State Fiesta Bowl if a trick didn’t alter the game somehow. *wink wink* to you Mr. Sanford. Boise State 31 Arizona 27

 

Arizona’s Blue Home

Boise, Idaho – my birthplace and where I spent the first four years of my life. It’s where my families from and where my parents grew up. Yet, I never had the chance to call it home or truly invest in it.  My parent’s jobs’ took us away from Boise shortly after I turned four. I remember crying as we packed up and left. Of course I was just a little kid, so I may have been crying because my parents said no to stopping at McDonald’s. Who knows. Either way, next stop … Oregon.

It would have made sense  for me to be a Duck fan; we lived a mere 5 minutes away from Autzen Stadium. You could nearly see it from our house. We heard the roar of the crowd on game days. Green and yellow painted the town. Duck pride was strong and well spread and I …. could care less. As a little kid I was not enamored with football or the Ducks. My life was basketball. I lived it, breathed it, and spent all my time doing it. I was a Portland Trailblazers fan and my passion for sports lied there. Just four years after moving to Oregon, my family and I had decided the dreary and wet Eugene climate was not for us. Why not move to the state with the complete opposite weather?

Phoenix, Arizona was my new home and where I’d unknowingly spend the next 14+ years of my life. I was raised in Phoenix, a city that has a population of more than 1.5 million people, a state that has a pro team for every major sport. The similarities between Boise and Phoenix are faint and the differences are apparent. Despite spending more than three quarters of my life here, I have never felt Phoenix to be my home, just where I currently reside.

After leaving Boise I continually visited once a year during the summertime until reaching high school. My knowledge of BSU was minimal, the only information I possessed: my mom attended college there and the football field was blue. With each passing year my appetite for football grew exponentially as so did my curiosity for Boise State. Every time I visited, I felt myself gravitating closer and closer to becoming a Bronco fan. It didn’t take long to realize that Boise and Boise State are one in unison. A feeling I longed for.

Phoenix didn’t provide the hometown sports feel and still doesn’t. Arizona natives are few and far between; of those natives, the ones that cherish Arizona sports are even harder to find or may not exist. It is more common to locate diehard sports fans that enjoy ridiculing the likes of the: Suns, Diamondbacks, Coyotes, Cardinals, Arizona State, or Arizona.

The onslaught of blue and orange at my arrival every summer had me hooked. Boise residents paraded around their pride and joy ­­- Boise State – with unconditional love. Conversations began and ended with the Broncos: Did you see who we got for next year’s recruiting class?  What did you think of last week’s game? What bowl do you think we’ll go to this year?  I was flabbergasted that educated sports conversations existed between complete strangers. You can understand how this caught me off guard if you caught a glimpse of my typical sports conversation with a Phoenix resident: Me – Can you believe the Cardinals have 10 wins?  Them ­­­­­– The season started? …..

Despite having a plethora of pro teams and two Pac-12 universities at my disposal, I naturally cling to the Broncos. There is no overwhelming reason for me to be a Bronco fan and every reason to favor an Arizona school, but the fan base, the hometown feel, and the little school that could mentality swayed me to bleed blue.

The context I have included above has little to do with me and is just background information to the central thesis: Boise State is special, everything about it. ‘The Blue’ is special. The Bronco fan base is special. The culture is special. All of which is undeniable at this juncture. Bronco Nation is widespread and gaining more and more supporters each year. Boise State attracts an array of fans from all over that can’t help but respect what the Broncos have been able to accomplish without the funding or resources your typical ‘power conference’ school receives.

I like many others, ranging from many states, fell in love with everything BSU embodies. The iconic blue field paints the image, but it does not tell the whole story. The behind the scenes of Boise State and its blue collar attitude is a fantastic representation of BSU’s rise to success. As other storied programs have had their major highs and low since 2000, Boise State has been a model of consistency; winning the right way. The Bronco way.

Needless to say as the Broncos prepare to take on the Wildcats; my allegiance with Boise State will stand strong. On the 31st my family and I will be decked out in orange from head to toe at the Fiesta Bowl.

What do you say Bronco Nation, let’s paint Arizona orange. My blue home intends to.