Legendary coach Pat Riley once said: "You have no choices about how you lose, but you do have a choice about how you come back and prepare to win again."
The Boise State basketball team is six months removed from its loss to La Salle and has spent all summer working towards getting back to the Big Dance. If the Broncos are able to do so, it'll mark the first back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances in school history.
Head coach Leon Rice and company begin that quest in earnest Friday, the first day of practice. A new rule allows teams to start practicing about 2.5 weeks sooner than they once could.
"This probably would've been a lot more valuable for us two years ago when we were breaking guys in and starting a new system," said Rice. "Now that we have more of a veteran team, it's maybe not as imperative that we have as many practices before the first game."
"We're all excited," remarked star guard Derrick Marks. "The coaching staff is excited, and our whole team has been working hard this whole summer, so we're all just excited to get back to practice."
Rice reported that Mikey Thompson and Jeff Elloriaga had minor surgeries in the off-season, but both are back to playing live.
Boise State has scheduled a closed-door scrimmage against Colorado in two weeks, but in the meantime, the Broncos have been beating up on each other. Rice said he put his top seven players against his bottom seven in a scrimmage, and the top seven (a group including all five returning starters) held its opposition scoreless for an hour.
"The young guys were kind of getting their teeth kicked in by the veterans the other day," laughed Rice. "I kind of had to remind them- 'Hey, these guys were in your shoes two years ago, but they didn't really have a group ahead of them that could help them through it.'"
Boise State will hold an open scrimmage Saturday at 5pm in the Bronco Gym. Admission is free, and coach Rice promises the teams will be divided more evenly.