The Boise State men’s basketball team held its first official practice of the 2019-20 season on Tuesday afternoon, and the Arguinchona Basketball Complex was abuzz with excitement.
With last season’s 13-20 record behind them, Boise State coach Leon Rice and seniors Marcus Dickinson, Alex Hobbs and Justinian Jessup spoke with the media about the potential of this year’s team.
Here are four takeaways from those conversations:
There’s always more to the story
Jessup and Hobbs didn’t use it as an excuse. In fact, they didn’t even bring up the subject until they were asked about it on Tuesday.
But there’s no doubt their injuries played a role in last season’s difficulties.
Jessup (knee) and Hobbs (ankle) had offseason surgeries after playing through the entire 2018-19 season with pain. Rice talked about Jessup’s knee surgery in April, but the details of Hobbs’ injury were just recently revealed.
Hobbs had surgery to remove the os trigonum bone from an ankle. The bone had been causing him discomfort ever since he rolled the ankle last fall.
“I think last year it kind of held me back at times,” Hobbs said. “But I wasn’t gonna use that as an excuse.”
Jessup took a month and a half off after surgery, and Hobbs spent the summer rehabbing and just returned to full form in practices last week.
“I’m 100 percent for sure. ... I know Hobbs is doing well, too,” Jessup said. “I think last week was like his first practice, and he comes in and scores 10 straight points. He’s just that kind of guy.”
What about those Pac-12 transfers?
Junior forward Abu Kigab, a transfer from Oregon, will be eligible to play for the Broncos after the first semester.
He should be available in time for the 2019 Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu, which runs Dec. 22-25.
Boise State has yet to hear back from the NCAA on whether Arizona transfer Emmanuel Akot can play immediately or will have to sit out a year. The longer the wait, the more complicated things become for the Broncos.
“That’s a little bit tricky, especially with what they bring, because what they bring could really, really impact this team,” Rice said. “... “There’s a lot up in the air, and both those guys can really contribute. I expect if both of them were playing, they’d have huge roles.”
The next step for D.A.
Fans saw Derrick Alston make a huge leap last season, and there’s plenty more in store for the former walk-on.
While teammates say the “sky’s the limit” for his playing ability, Alston is expected to contribute to the team’s success in more ways than just the scoreboard this year.
“I’ve just been super impressed with his growth as a leader as well,” Jessup said, “being able to hold guys accountable and be that vocal presence that we need at times.”
Alston, who is entering his redshirt junior year, is considered an NBA Draft prospect.
“He’s worked for everything he’s got, and he’s gonna continue to do that,” Rice said. “If he does, the sky’s the limit for where he can go with the game of basketball, and that’s what I’m excited to see this year.”
Rice will have more options this year when he turns to his bench for reinforcements.
“When the other team has to respect everybody that you put on the floor, it makes a difference,” Hobbs said.
After redshirting last season, freshmen Riley Abercrombie, Max Rice and Mike Frazier are available to play, and true freshman guard RayJ Dennis is expected to compete for playing time immediately. Senior center Robin Jorch also is back following a redshirt year while rehabbing an injury. Kigab will provide a boost after the first semester.
“I think we’re a lot deeper. I think we’re eight deep this year, for sure,” Jessup said. “We definitely don’t have one guy that people know we’re gonna go to like the first few years. I think this year could be one of our best offensive groups, just the way we play with each other, our chemistry, our ball movement.”
Rice stressed this year’s group is dialed in both on and off the court.
“Right now I’ve got 15 guys pulling the rope in the same direction and ... collectively as a group, maybe the hardest working group I’ve had,” Rice said. “Sometimes you get a group like that and there’s not talent. Well, this group has talent and hard work, so I think if we put that all together, it could lead to some great things.”
Boise State’s exhibition opener is Oct. 31 against West Coast Baptist College and its season opener is Nov. 5 against Life Pacific. Game times have yet to be announced.
Note: The Boise State women’s basketball team has its first official practice of the 2019-20 season on Monday.
Baseball: Broncos announce home schedule
The Boise State baseball team released is 2020 schedule on Wednesday, with nine Mountain West home games highlighting the Broncos’ first season since 1980.
Boise State will host San Diego State (April 9-11), Nevada (April 24-26) and UNLV (May 15-17) in league action at Memorial Stadium.
The Broncos’ 26-game home slate starts Feb. 28 with a four-game series against Northern Colorado. Boise State also will host Seattle (March 6-8), Niagara (March 9-11), Portland (March 17-18), BYU (March 30), Utah (March 31) and Gonzaga (May 11-12).
The Broncos will have a select-a-seat event Oct. 4-5 at Memorial Stadium where fans can purchase reserved season tickets at a cost ranging from $150 to $200. Season tickets also can be purchased at BroncoSports.com/tickets, by visiting the Boise State Ticket Office or by calling 208-426-4737.