BOISE – Throughout Wednesday’s various media sessions at Taco Bell Arena, players of participating NCAA Tournament teams – many from areas of the country not remotely close to the Treasure Valley – were routinely were put to the test.
“What do you know about Boise?”
Some were familiar with the iconic blue tint of the local footall field; others with the starchy, tuberous crop the region has become world-famous for.
“Not much,” admitted Ohio State’s Jae’Sean Tate when the inquiry came his way. “I knew you guys were known for potatoes and pretty much just the blue field.”
But UNC Greensboro’s Jordy Kuiper has more of a personal connection to Boise, although he too is making his first visit to the Gem State this week for the first two rounds of the Big Dance.
The redshirt senior forward owes a sliver of his succces to a former Boise State player, Matt Bauscher, who became a close acquaintance of Kuiper’s when he played for Donar Groningen of the Dutch Basketball League. Kuiper is a native of Gronigen, a major city in the northern Netherlands, and had ties to the local club while he was growing up.
That meant some rare one-on-one time with the pros.
“I was really closely involved with the pro team we had there,” Kuiper said. “And a person that I used to actually teach me some moves back in the day was Matt Bauscher who played (at BSU). I’ve seen a play or two. And that’s probably the first time I heard of Boise State.”
Bauscher, a Caldwell native, averaged 7.5 points over three seasons at Boise State (2005-08) after transferring from Spokane Community College. Bauscher played six professional seasons in Europe before retiring. He now runs a real estate business in Boise.
“He’s a great player, and helped me a lot, too, when I was a young kid growing up,” Kuiper said. “That’s only the connection I have to Boise.”
Kuiper’s teammates, guards Marvin Smith and Francis Alonso, gave glowing reviews of the Treasure Valley when it was their turn to answer the question of the day.
“Only thing I knew about is the football team and the blue field,” Smith said. “Since I’ve come, it’s a beautiful city, I’ve been enjoying it, the weather is pretty nice. It’s better than Greensboro. It was snowing in Greensboro when he left. It’s been a beautiful view here.”
Added Alonso: “I’m from (Malaga) Spain, so it was really difficult for me to know about Boise State. But as soon as I got here this place is really beautiful. And all the people from here are really passionate about NCAA basketball and I can’t wait to come out there and play with a beautiful environment, absolutely.”
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