December 5, 1998, 25 years ago today: Senior Roberto Bergersen produces one of the best big-game performances in Boise State basketball history, scoring 32 points to lead the Broncos past No. 15 Washington in the BSU Pavilion, 69-61.Bergersen, who originally signed with UW out of high school, connected on 13 field goals while going up, over and around the Huskies. Washington was the highest-ranked team Boise State had ever defeated—and would remain so until the Broncos stunned No. 11 Creighton in November, 2012.
Bergersen had spent one season with the Huskies before transferring to College of Southern Idaho and later becoming Boise State’s biggest signee out of the renowned CSI program. It had been a journey for Bergersen. A feature by Bob Sherwin in the Seattle Times the day of the game put it this way: “When you hear a coach at Boise State talk about Roberto Bergersen, you wonder if he is talking about the same guy who played basketball at Washington. That guy was a screw-up.
“Bergersen, with clean good looks, a disarming smile and engaging personality, came to Washington in 1994 as a likable but undisciplined and immature product of a desultory home life. He cared more about being cool in college than about doing the necessary things to stay there. Consequently, he didn’t make it to the end of his first year at UW, then went through a chaotic period in which he attended three schools in one year and nearly gave up his academic and athletic future.” Five years later, Berto was married with a 13-month-old son, Rylan, and was 14 credits short of a sociology degree at Boise State. And he was the most popular player on the court.
He played three seasons for the Broncos and was Big West Player of the Year as a senior. Bergersen scored a record 644 points that season and averaged 22.2 points per game, the second highest points-per-game number in school history. He averaged 17.3 points per game in his Boise State career while shooting almost 49 percent from the field and almost 81 percent from the free throw line. And he was community-involved, foreshadowing where his Boise life would lead him. The Bronco years led to his induction into the Boise State Athletic Hall of Fame in 2007.
Bergersen was drafted in the second round of the 1999 NBA draft, 52nd overall, by the Atlanta Hawks. He was traded to Portland on draft night but never played a game for the Blazers. Bergersen later played professional ball overseas—and played two different stints with the Idaho Stampede in Boise, one while the team was in the CBA and one while it was in the NBA D-League. The latter stretch saw him help the Stampede to their only D-League championship in 2008. Bergersen would go on to co-found Hoop Dreams, the successful Idaho traveling team. And, of course, he’s currently on coach Leon Rice’s staff at Boise State and is known as a deft recruiter.
(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra. He also anchors four sports segments each weekday on 95.3 FM KTIK and one on News/Talk KBOI. His Scott Slant column runs every Wednesday.)