Christian Sengfelder made 93 starts in three years at Fordham University before joining the Boise State men’s basketball team this season as a graduate transfer.
Even so, the 6-foot-9, 246-pound Germany native said he was nervous ahead of the Broncos’ exhibition opener against College of Idaho.
With good reason.
Sengfelder and fellow grad transfer Lexus Williams want to be sure they make the most of their lone season in a Boise State uniform.
“They’ve got one chance to be a Bronco. You want them to make the best of it,” Boise State coach Leon Rice said. “But the great thing about them is they’re about all the right things. They want their teammates to have a great year. They want this program to have a great year.
“They’re not just mercenaries that we brought in to kill the enemy and then run off. These guys are ingrained in our program, and they care about Boise State.”
Rice and his staff went out of their way to bring in Sengfelder and Williams, giving the Broncos three seniors this season instead of one.
The return on investment could be huge.
Sengfelder knocked down four 3-pointers and finished with 15 points and nine rebounds in Boise State’s season-opening 104-65 win Friday night against Eastern Oregon. Williams started at point guard, totaling four assists and four steals in 16 minutes after running into foul trouble.
But Williams provided fans with one of the most memorable plays of the game, feeding senior Chandler Hutchison for an alley-oop dunk on a fast break in the second half.
The Broncos (1-0) are back in action at Taco Bell Arena at 2 p.m. Sunday to face Southern Utah.
“We want to be Mountain West champs,” said Williams, who started 44 games at Valparaiso. “That’s our goal, and we’re not doing anything that would deter us from getting to that goal. Everybody’s focused on doing the best that they can and taking it day by day.”
Paired with Hutchison, the preseason Mountain West Player of the Year, Sengfelder and Williams have turned what might have been a relatively inexperienced starting lineup into an experienced one.
But their success will be dependent on how quickly they mesh on the court. Players say they’re already aligned mentally.
“These first couple weeks and months normally are dedicated to getting guys to buy in and getting guys to do what they are supposed to do,” Hutchison said. “We’ve cut that out completely, because we’ve got guys that are dedicated to wanting to win and taking coaching and doing whatever we have to do.”
The Broncos were picked to finish third in the Mountain West in both media and SI.com polls behind defending regular-season and tournament champion Nevada and No. 2 San Diego State. Boise State has 12 nonconference games on its schedule before beginning Mountain West play at home against Colorado State on Dec. 27.
“My expectation is to contend for a league title. I think the league is going to be great this year. There’s a lot of good teams,” Rice said. “... We were in that mix most of last year and weren’t good enough to get it done. This year I hope we can be a little bit better and a little more experienced. Maybe a little grittier, tougher.”
Players to watch
Expectations are high for the 6-foot-7 senior, who was tabbed the preseason Mountain West Player of the Year after averaging 17.4 points and 7.8 rebounds per game as a junior. Hutchison recorded six games with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds last season, becoming just the second Bronco in the past 30 seasons to record six 20-and-10 games.
The 6-9, 246-pound senior forward comes to Boise State having scored 1,059 career points at Fordham, which is the most points of any Bronco on this year’s roster. Deceptively athletic, Sengfelder made 160 3-pointers in three years with the Rams — ninth-most in program history — on 35 percent shooting.
Although the 6-4 sophomore guard did not start any games for the Broncos last season, he is expected to challenge for a spot in the starting lineup. “I’m seeing that guy that we envisioned,” coach Leon Rice said. “He’s on his way to becoming that guy who can be a prolific scorer in college.” Hobbs was 9-for-9 from the floor against Eastern Oregon on Friday, becoming just the third Bronco in school history to finish a game with a perfect field-goal percentage with at least nine shot attempts.