Boise State Broncos
Overall Rank: #105
Conference Rank: #4 Western Athletic Conference
2008-09: 19-13, 9-7
2008-09 postseason: CBI
Coach: Greg Graham (127-95 at Boise State, 145-100 overall)
Heading into late January it looked like Boise State might be the team to beat in the Western Athletic Conference. But things started to fall apart after that. By the end of the season the Broncos had lost six of their last eight games, including postseason losses to New Mexico State in the conference tournament and to Stanford in the CBI. The expectations were pretty low last year so it was still a successful season, but that success may be hard to repeat without forward Mark Sanchez.
Key Losses: G Aaron Garner, G Jamar Greene, F Mark Sanchez
Sanchez, a 6-7 forward, led the team in scoring and rebounding and Coach Greg Graham hopes to replace him partially with junior college transfers Robert Arnold and Daequon Montreal. It is Montreal, who spent two years at the always successful College of Southern Idaho, who should pick up most of the slack. Redshirts Tyler Young and Justin Salzwedel, along with incoming freshman Sam Hicks, may provide some emergency depth, but it is another junior college transfer that will play an important role on this team. Westly Perryman could step into a starting role right away and help replace Aaron Garner and Jamar Greene. On a team that really needs to find a shooter, Perryman could be in for big campaign during his first year in Boise.
Perryman is so important because there really are no other options on the perimeter. Anthony Thomas will once again run the show. He is a decent outside shooter, but he is much more known for creating shots for his teammates and playing great defense. If Thomas has to start worrying about shooting, he may not play the point guard position quite as effectively. However, there are other options at point guard if Coach Graham needs Thomas to play off the ball every once in a while. La’Shard Anderson had a decent sophomore campaign, averaging 5.6 points, 2.7 assists, 2.0 rebounds and 1.1 steals off the bench. Those two can handle a majority of the minutes in the backcourt, but Perryman still needs to fill in about 20 minutes off the bench at the least.
Despite the absence of Sanchez, there is a surprising amount of talent returning to the frontcourt. Paul Noonan is a big 6-7 small forward who connected on a team high 1.7 three-pointers last year and the other starting spot was split between Kurt Cunningham and Ike Okoye. Both could be starting this year if they can hold off Montreal. Cunningham, a 6-9, 260 pound center, ranked second on the team with 10.2 points. He is not the greatest rebounder or much of a shot blocking threat at all, but that is where Okoye thrives. Okoye ranked second on the team behind Sanchez in rebounding and blocked nearly two shots per game.
Who to Watch:
Cunningham and Okoye both averaged less than 20 minutes per game last year and Coach Graham likes to have big bodies he can rotate in and out. With the addition of Montreal in lieu of Sanchez, that rotation should be in good shape. Both Cunningham and Okoye were extremely effective for the amount of minutes they played and if they need to play more, assuming they can stay out of foul trouble, then that is not a bad thing at all.
Boise State had to exceed expectations to reach the postseason last year, but missing out this year would probably be a disappointment. Even though Sanchez, Greene and Garner are gone, this is an experienced group that should be able to at least stay relatively competitive in the WAC. If the newcomers, mostly Perryman and Montreal, can contribute, the Broncos will be better than they were last year.
Projected Post-season Tournament: CBI/CIT
Projected Starting Five:
Anthony Thomas, Senior, Guard, 9.5 points per game
La’Shard Anderson, Junior, Guard, 5.6 points per game
Paul Noonan, Junior, Forward, 10.0 points per game
Ike Okoye, Senior, Forward, 8.9 points per game
Kurt Cunningham, Senior, Center, 10.2 points per game