For the Boise State men's basketball team, the long wait is almost over.
On Saturday night, the Broncos get to go against someone other than themselves when they take on La Verne in an exhibition at Taco Bell Arena. The offseason has been filled with cautious optimism as returning veterans meet with five newcomers and another scholarship player coming off a redshirt.
"We need it in the worst way," Boise State coach Leon Rice said. "It's been a long grind this fall camp, and it always marks the start of the season when you get to play someone else, so that's exciting."
Most of the new faces should make their debut Saturday, though junior guard Montigo Alford will not be available as he nears recovery from a torn labrum. Rice did not say who would or wouldn't play, but Alford said last week he wouldn't be able to take part fully in practices until the next week or two. Rice said senior Anthony Drmic is ready, but did not mention senior Derrick Marks, who had surgery in May on a torn meniscus. Marks said last week he should be available for the exhibition, but if he doesn't go, it's likely a precautionary measure.
"It's been a long time," freshman center David Wacker said. " coming close to actually playing against a team and knowing this team has a chance to be really special, you can feel the excitement building — it's game week, so it's been different than any other."
ESPN is ranking the top 100 players in college basketball leading up to the season. Today, Drmic was ranked 53rd. About the man on pace to vie for the Boise State career scoring record, it says "Few, save the hoops junkies and Mountain West advance scouts, know just how good Drmic is. His combination of wing size and lethal perimeter shooting has made him one of the nation's most underrated scorers three years running."
On Wednesday, Marks was ranked 85th. On Marks: "He enters the season ranked ninth on the school's all-time scoring chart. But Marks is far from one dimensional. He led the Broncos in assists (2.6 per game) and steals (1.5) last season.
The preseason Associated Press Top 25 poll was released Friday. Wisconsin, which hosts Boise State on Nov. 22, is ranked No. 3, while San Diego State is No. 16. Two other Bronco opponents — North Carolina State, 10 spots out of the rankings, got 14 points, while UNLV received two. Check out the poll here.
Tickets for Nov. 25's Boise State-Idaho game at CenturyLink Arena go on sale Saturday at 10 a.m. As usual, the arena will be split in half between Bronco and Vandal faithful. Get tickets by calling 208-331-TIXS (8497) or by visiting the CenturyLink Arena Box Office. Student tickets are $10 in advance, and range from $17-$75 for non-students. I posted the seating chart above, or you can click here.