Both Boise State basketball teams were projected to finish second in the preseason Mountain West polls. Though the standard line of the polls not mattering much, both teams had plenty of confidence about their potential during basketball media day Wednesday. The men host La Verne in their first exhibition game Nov. 1, and the women host Northwest Nazarene on Nov. 7 in their first exhibition.
"I still don't have a conference championship — that's all I want, really," senior guard Derrick Marks said.
The Bronco men return two of the top 10 scorers in team history in Anthony Drmic and Marks, and mix in the sort of height and athleticism that the team has lacked against the Mountain West's elite.
On the women's side, everyone — yes, everyone — returns from last season's 18-14 team. The Broncos also add sixth-year center Kinzi Poteet, who has missed the last two seasons because of injury, and center Camille Redmon, a Purdue transfer who was the conference's preseason newcomer of the year.
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"We're about 14 people deep and everyone's contributing, so it's looking really good," Redmon said. "We're incredibly excited, we don't put much stock into the polls, but having pressure's a privilege. We'll have a target on our backs, but we're working hard to finish first."
— Freshman David Wacker was named the 5A state player of the year in Texas last season from the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches. He's impressed early in practices, and the 6-foot-10 center likely will play a sizable role early. He turned down offers from schools around the country in the SEC, ACC, Pac-12 and Big 12.
"It's exciting that I might get the chance to start, even," Wacker said. " there's been a big emphasis on being excited, having this opportunity — we have the chance to have the most special team in Boise State history. We feel it's a possibility, and the veterans knew they came short, so an over-the-top effort is what it'll take."
— I will have a story soon on Marks and his recovery from offseason meniscus surgery. He tore the knee ligament in May when he was doing a charity event on the Boise State campus, so the timing and what he was doing has made the recover a little easier, as he knew he could get back for the season and also knew he wasn't doing anything he shouldn't.
"It's the first time I've experienced something like this," Marks said. "It just changed the person I was. I have more of a leadership role. I've had to make changes, for the better. There's going to be a new Derrick Marks this season."
— Drmic and I talked in the video above about his dominance at the online video game League of Legends. We referenced a recent challenge from Utah's Gordon Hayward, who said he's better than LeBron James — at LoL.. Drmic said on Twitter he would gladly take on both — no response yet from either.
The senior from Australia had praise for sophomore and fellow countryman Nick Duncan, who has lost about 20 pounds during the offseason. The 6-8 Duncan averaged 5.0 ppg last season, shooting 41 percent from 3-point range.
"He's quick like a cat now," Drmic said. "It was crazy to see — he just moves way quicker now it's impressive. He's definitely going to play a bigger role this season, I feel, and he'll be able to do a lot more things that he wasn't able to do last season."
— Junior guard Montigo Alford, a College of Southern Idaho transfer, was also a very talented football player in high school at Summit High in Fontana, Calif. Among the guys he played with at Summit were Boise State cornerback Donte Deayon, BYU receiver Devon Blackmon and BYU running back Jamaal Williams. As a senior in 2010, Alford ran for 1,097 yards on 91 carries (12.1 ypc!) and scored 13 touchdowns. He also had 11 catches for 171 yards. He said he was considering playing football at San Jose State or Arizona State, but basketball was his "passion." Still, he misses football some days.
"If I wouldn't have had my shoulder surgery (this summer), I probably would've tried to play (football) for BSU, too," Alford said.
Alford said he has recovered well from his torn labrum, but is still about two weeks from being fully cleared. He hopes to be game-ready in December.
— Junior center Kevin Allen, the Broncos' other JC transfer this season, stormed onto the recruiting scene when he had 31 points and 17 rebounds on March 17 in the NJCAA national tournament for Pratt (Kan.) Community College. Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Kansas State were among those that jumped in to try and get the big man.
"I picked the right time to have my best game, I guess," Allen said.
— Boise State added three players 6-10 or taller this season in Wacker, Allen and Zach Haney. Haney is 6-11, but the Texan has a unique skill set — he can also shoot the ball from 3-point range. In fact, it's part of what drew him to Boise State after getting offers from Georgia and Georgia Tech during his senior year.
"I saw what they did with Nick at the power forward spot and I was like 'dang, if they can do that, I want to go there,'" Haney said.
— I talked to senior guard Igor Hadziomerovic recently, and we talked about what he hopes to accomplish his final season at Boise State. He has averaged 4.5 points per game in his career and the injury bug has at times kept him from making more of an impact. He has a goal that may not show up in the boxscore, but could be of massive importance for the Broncos this season.
"The injuries have held me back a little bit, but I just want to go out strong," Hadziomerovic said. "My mindset is trying to be one of the better defenders in the league. I want to take on the best guy on each team."
— For what it's worth, in the next few weeks as the season approaches, I will be profiling all of the Broncos' newcomers — I wrote about James Webb, who redshirted last season, on Monday.. I'll be writing about Alford and Chandler Hutchison first, then the big guys (Haney, Wacker, Allen).