Don't look now, but basketball season is just about here.
The Boise State men's basketball team begins fall practices Friday, and will host a free, open scrimmage at 7 p.m. on Oct. 11 at Bronco Gym.
Thursday served as the first media session with coach Leon Rice since early this summer, and he hit on many topics to make for lost time. The team had summer workouts along with some conditioning work since getting back for classes and since Sept. 15 have been able to do team workouts. Among the first things he pointed out was how quickly the team's new additions have acclimated themselves.
"The team chemistry has been terrific in the fall," Rice said. "I'm really proud of the way these guys have attacked the fall. Probably, maybe the best fall camp we've had in my five years here."
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Rice also had the team go through workouts with Navy SEAL instructors two weeks ago — I'll have a story on that in Friday's Statesman.
A lot more news and notes from Rice:
—On the five newcomers: "I think Chandler (Hutchison) and David (Wacker) come in college ready. I think they'll be kids that get better as the year goes on, but as freshmen go, they're pretty ready. I think Zach (Haney) has got a tremendous upside, and we love some of the things he's doing.
"With Kevin Allen and Montigo (Alford), you've got some guys with some athleticism and talent. Kevin's 6'-10.5", and a true center — that's exciting, and Montigo's a little different than the guards we've had the last three years."
—On how this team might differ than years past: "There's athletic ability and some length we haven't had here before. I've seen some blocked shots at practice — I don't think I saw one of those (before) — and maybe even some dunks. That's exciting as a coach, to maybe add some things we didn't have before."
Boise State blocked 2.1 shots per game last season — 319th out of 345 Division I teams. In 2012-13, its 1.7 bpg was 334th out of 345 and its 1.9 bpg in 2011-12 was 316th out of 338.
—On senior Derrick Marks, who often has played well in second halves, but also had notable late misses in close games: "It was probably a little inconsistent. That's something we've addressed and talked quite a bit about in the offseason. He's got to live in those moments where he's brilliant, and that's hard to do, to be that consistent. We don't want to have it just be the Derrick Marks show. It's about trusting his teammates, knowing when to do it, but we need more consistency out of him."
—On visiting Australia last week, his first time in a country that has produced current players Nick Duncan, Igor Hadziomerovic and Anthony Drmic: "It's an important country for us. We have three Aussies on our team right now. I think it's a place we would welcome lots more. Those kids I think have endeared themselves to our fans, so hopefully we can get more of them."
—On bouncing back from a season that had so many close losses: "When you come that close and you feel like its such a fine line and you're just a whisker away from being a great team. I think we were a good team, I don't think we were a great team. At moments we were. We want to build a great team and a great program here — that was a motivation for us in the offseason, no question."
—Rice acknowledged there hasn't been much national buzz on the team, though he prefers it. He said about the schedule, which includes road games at North Carolina State and Wisconsin in November: "We're going to have to weather some storms early."
—As of now, there aren't any notable injuries. Alford had offseason shoulder surgery, but has participated in some team work.
"At this point, we're a little banged up, but they're all things they're coming out of we're probably two weeks away from being full strength," Rice said.