BOISE – Boise State coach Leon Rice’s flight back from Seattle landed here at 10:30 Thursday morning – about an hour before Gonzaga’s NCAA Tournament first-round game against UNC Greensboro tipped off at Taco Bell Arena.
And when he strolled into the locker room where his Boise State Broncos quarter, there was his old boss, Zags coach Mark Few, standing in the kitchenette/lounge.
“I said, ‘You want me to make you some pancakes or something?’ ” Rice laughed.
It isn’t enough that a quarter or so of the 12,644 seats here are occupied by Gonzaga fans. The Zags have made themselves at home in Rice’s home – just as he’d planned.
“I was giving the NCAA guys a tour back when they were checking out the facility,” Rice said, “and they loved our locker room and asked, ‘Will you let us use it?’
“And I told them the only way I’d let them use it is if Gonzaga gets assigned it if they’re sent here. They said, ‘Hey, you don’t get to pick your team – it’s the NCAA Tournament. It goes to the highest seed.’ ”
Which just happened to be the Zags, as the Boise site is hosting Nos. 4 and 5 seeds.
Rice’s Broncos had their season end Wednesday night with a 77-74 loss to Washington in the NIT, despite a furious comeback and 39 points from senior Chandler Hutchison. Boise State finished 23-9.
“We were that close to being really good,” Rice said.
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