The Boise State women’s basketball team won a program-record 25 games last season on its way to a Mountain West Tournament title and an NCAA Tournament bid.
Earlier this month, the Broncos were picked as the favorites to win the Mountain West in a preseason media poll, but coach Gordy Presnell says the first month of the season could be tough going for the Broncos.
Projected starting point guard Braydey Hodgins is out until “at least” the beginning of December with a broken hand, and BSU’s nonconference slate won’t be an easy one with matchups scheduled against Washington, Washington State and Saint Mary’s (Calif.).
“Playing those big, Pac-12 teams will kind of get us where we need to be,” Boise State senior forward Shalen Shaw said. “When we beat them, it will give us that thing that we know that we can beat anybody. It will be really good for us.”
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The Broncos (1-0) appear up for the challenge after an 83-51 season-opening victory against Northwest Christian on Friday at Taco Bell Arena. Junior guard Marta Hermida finished with 12 points, nine rebounds and nine assists, falling just short of becoming only the second Bronco in program history to record a triple-double.
“The preseason recognition is good for our kids. It signifies the respect of our opponents in our league,” Presnell said. “But in the long run, it really doesn’t mean anything. It’s how you gel together. What happens? Do the kids have role acceptance? Are there injuries? There’s so many factors that go into the success of the season, but it’s nice to get that.”
The Broncos return four of their top five scorers from a year ago, headlined by Shaw (10.1 ppg, 7.1 rpg), who was voted to the preseason All-Mountain West Team. Redshirt junior center Marijke Vanderschaaf (10.1 ppg), Hermida (8.5 ppg) and sophomore guard Riley Lupfer (8.1 ppg) also have proven themselves as scoring threats for the Broncos.
“This is the fourth year in a row we’ve had someone from our team on the preseason team, and it’s really exciting to be one of those players,” Shaw said. “I think that we can go really far this year, and I am really excited about it.”
The Broncos also expect to get a boost from redshirt sophomores Ellie Woerner (Portland) and A’Shanti Coleman (Arizona), who sat out last season per NCAA transfer rules. Woerner started for the Broncos against Northwest Christian, scoring 12 points on 5-for-10 shooting from the floor.
“I am optimistic, but obviously we are going to have to grow together as a team,” Presnell said. “I think we have a lot of new faces that will be a big part of the success that we do have.”
With a deep roster and two NCAA Tournament appearances in the last three seasons, the Broncos even garnered some national respect by receiving one point in the 2017-18 USA Today Preseason Coaches’ Poll, which was released Oct. 25.
“That’s really awesome. I think that just means that everybody is kind of watching us,” Shaw said. “So it means we’ve got to play our best.”
Players to watch
The 6-foot-1 senior forward is on pace to become the only Bronco in program history to finish in the top 10 in career scoring, rebounding and assists. With NCAA Tournament appearances in 2015 and 2017, Shaw also could become the first Bronco to play in three NCAA Tournaments if BSU can qualify this spring for a second straight season.
Presnell called the 5-11 junior guard the “glue” of this year’s team, as Hermida selflessly agreed to move to point guard in place of injured teammate Braydey Hodgins. This past July, Hermida earned a gold medal as part of Spain’s national team that won the FIBA U-20 Women’s European Championship in Matosinhos, Portugal.
The redshirt sophomore sat out last season after transferring from Portland, where the 6-0 guard started 28 of the 29 games she appeared in during the 2015-16 season. Woerner averaged a team-leading 11.8 points per game, which also ranked 13th in the West Coast Conference.