Boise State Basketball

On deep Boise State women’s basketball team, off night means ‘go sit on the bench’

Boise State players pile up on each other in celebration of their second straight Mountain West Tournament championship.
Boise State players pile up on each other in celebration of their second straight Mountain West Tournament championship. AP

Boise State women’s basketball coach Gordy Presnell has a problem.

Well, problem might be a strong word.

The Broncos have a roster so loaded that Presnell and his staff are going to have their hands full trying to determine who will start in the team’s exhibition opener Nov. 2 against Concordia at Taco Bell Arena, not to mention who will play the vital minutes as the season progresses.

“It’s a fun problem to have in the preseason; after the season starts it’s not always so fun,” Presnell said Monday after the Broncos’ first official practice of the season. “Hopefully we’ll have great depth and hopefully we can play a lot of people and be a little bit more up-tempo than we’ve been.”

Boise State returns eight players who started at least one game last season, and Kansas transfer Jayde Christopher also is eligible after sitting out last year.

The Broncos compiled a record of 23-10 last season, sweeping the Mountain West regular-season and tournament championships on their way to a third NCAA Tournament appearance in four years and the fifth in program history.

“This is the deepest that I think we’ve ever been,” Boise State junior Riley Lupfer said. “If you don’t have a good night, well, go sit on the bench. We can have someone else come play for you. It helps with competing. You really have to step up each day.”

Presnell wants to be as transparent as possible when determining playing time, so the Broncos will be keeping track of every detail during practice.

“We’re going to chart everything. Chart every shot in practice, chart how they play, and then defensively we’re going to chart every mistake,” Presnell said. “We have to have some sort of rationale, so we’re going to do a little more of that than we have in the past. It’s still kind of subjective, but we want to make it as fair as we can, and we’ll see who wins those battles.”

For Lupfer, who set single-season program and conference records with 122 made 3-pointers last season, being pushed for a starting spot is a positive that she hopes leads to the first NCAA Tournament win in program history.

“I am definitely sick of going and losing the first game and then going home,” Lupfer said. “My first year it was, ‘Oh, I’m so happy to be here.’ But now it’s like, ‘OK, I’m here, we’re going to win a game and go as far as we can.’”

A sub-par performance over the course of their nonconference schedule came back to bite the Broncos in the postseason. They ended up with a No. 16 seed, drawing No. 1 Louisville on the Cardinals’ home court in the first round.

With aspirations of obtaining a higher tournament seed in 2018-19, the Broncos can’t afford to start this season the way they did in 2017: They went 5-5 and lost four games in which they had double-digit leads in the fourth quarter.

The Broncos are also looking to boost their RPI — the rating percentage index used to help determine tournament seeds — by scheduling Louisville, Washington State and potentially Washington.

“They know you have to perform well before Christmas,” Presnell said. “If you do that and then you do take care of your league, then you’ll have a better RPI and get a better seeding instead of playing on someone’s home court.”

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