Broncos Resume California Road Trip

With Stanford's slide, the Boise State win over the Cardinal is all of a sudden looking not as monumental. So, the Broncos must now go down to California again and beat another team that has rocked Stanford, the 15th-ranked USC Trojans. Boise State has General Patton, but the Trojans have been to "Boot Camp" as well. Before that though, Boise State needs to get past Cal State-Santa Barbara.

The Broncos go south to Southern California again. This week they will be playing UC Santa Barbara (#73) in Santa Barbara, and USC (#15) in Los Angeles.


UCSB, on Friday, February 9 at 1:30 PM, will offer less of a challenge. They are 1-1 with a loss to Arizona State (#53).  But playing any college in California is never a sure win.


The scary match will be on Saturday, February 10, at 1:00 PM, against USC.  Last week Southern Cal was ranked at #43.  This week they moved up to #15, pushing Boise State down a notch to #18. USC made the big move up in the rankings by beating San Diego State (#50) 7-0, then Stanford (#19) 5-2, and then Cal (#18) 7-0. All of their matches have been on their home courts.


Boise State, 6-0, has 2007 wins over San Diego State 4-3 and Stanford 5-1.


Last year USC ended the 2006 season ranked #54, and out of the money in the Pac 10 as well as nationally. This year they are undefeated at 5-0 with two victories over Pac 10 powerhouse teams.


Why the big turn around?  Well…for one thing, they went to boot camp…literally. The turn around began with a September 2006 weekend at the U.S Marine Corps training facility, Camp Pendleton. The focus of the trip was to work on coming together as a team.

The Trojans enrolled in a short course where they were strenuously reminded of the power of teamwork by the ones who live and breathe by that code, the U.S. Marine Corps.

They participated in parts of USMC Basic Training…including the Crucible. The Marines are all about team building with small units, groups of six people. So the Trojans split into two six-person units, and began the program.

The Crucible is no walk in the park. It takes place over 54-hours and includes food and sleep deprivation (only four hours of sleep per night) and approximately 40 miles of marching. The entire Crucible event pits teams of recruits against a barrage of day and night events requiring every recruit to work together solving problems.

The Camp Pendleton experience may have helped, but as good as they appear to be, they are almost a mirror image of the Boise State Broncos.


The teams: Boise State has the edge. Working together as a family and a team is their strength. Perhaps the USMC Crucible has helped USC.  That remains to be seen.


The #1 singles and doubles. This year's USC team has more depth than 2006, and a healthy #1 singles player, Jamil Al-Agba, unranked, but ranked #7 last year before a leg injury. Al-Agba and his doubles teammate, Dejan Cvetkovic, are ranked #11 in the nation in doubles.


Boise State has Luke Shields ranked #15 in the nation…and three or four combinations of almost unbeatable doubles teams.


Super freshmen and sophomores: The Trojans have a super freshman in Jason McNaughton ranked #91.  The Broncos have a super sophomore, Clancy Shields ranked #94…and a super freshman soon to be ranked as well, Blake Boswell. 


Match comparisons. Many of the players from both teams have been mixing it up for years.  Kean Feeder, injured Bronco, has played Al-Agba and beaten him.  Feeder and Al-Agba played in the 2003 USTA Nationals as "wild card" entries.


Eric Roberson barely lost a three setter to Al-Agba, after winning the first set, at the 1999 USTA Indoors Championships for eighteen year olds.


The coaches:  Peter Smith and Greg Patton are the best of friends…but they get very "competitive" win their teams are playing.  Both are proven winners with great records. Both have many conference championship trophies on the shelf, and coaching awards on the wall.


Greg Patton has the edge if awards measure success.  In 2003 he was the coach for the United States National Team-14 year olds.  His team won the World's that year, beating all comers including loaded Spain and Argentina.


In 1987 and again in 1997 he received the prestigious NCAA Men's "Coach of the Year "award.

As Coach Patton says, he's just tired of the Big-10, the Pac-10, the SEC, and the ACC, thinking that they've got something over Boise State. Getting a chance to play against the nation's top teams is a task he's looking forward to.

"You've got to grab every opportunity that you can and you squeeze it and you don't let go. If you want to be a big dog, you get play in the big dog pound."- Greg Patton, 2007.



Live scoring for the match can be found on the USC website.



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