Boise State Basketball

Boise State basketball testing out new look on Costa Rica trip

Boise State men's basketball prepares for Costa Rica trip

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Only five of the 13 players on the roster played in more than seven games last season.

With three players coming off redshirts and five newcomers, the Broncos will take every opportunity they can to start working together as soon as possible. Thus, the decision to play in a preseason foreign tour.

The Broncos began practicing last week and depart for a five-day trip to Costa Rica on Thursday.

“For all of us, I think it’ll be great. Our team is pretty young ... see who (jells) with who,” said redshirt freshman guard Malek Harwell, who missed last season (ACL).

Boise State will play four games in three days, starting Friday against Canadian colleges Brock University and the University of Ottawa. The Broncos face the Costa Rican national team Saturday and play Ottawa again Sunday.

The Broncos have to replace No. 2 all-time scorer Anthony Drmic, third-team All-Mountain West guard Mikey Thompson and athletic forward James Webb III, who left school early and is now with the Philadelphia 76ers. They have three players 6-foot-10 or taller, a new wrinkle for a team that often has thrived playing small.

“That’s what we’re going to find out down in Costa Rica. I think we’ll answer a lot of those questions, experiment with some things, which you don’t really get a chance to do in (usual) exhibition games,” coach Leon Rice said.

ADDING SMU TO SCHEDULE A BOON FOR BRONCOS

One of the more difficult tasks for Rice and his staff has been finding teams to come to Boise for nonconference games. Tuesday’s announcement that SMU will play at Taco Bell Arena on Nov. 30 was the result of a long process.

Rice joked he “became a bit of a stalker” of SMU coach Tim Jankovich, trying to finish the deal.

“It’s so difficult,” Rice said. “Oregon came in here, and they ended up being a No. 1 seed, so it didn’t hurt them.”

The Mustangs finished at No. 24 in the Associated Press poll last season. In addition to getting a marquee opponent this season, the Broncos will make a return trip to Dallas next year. Boise State has four players from Texas and one from Oklahoma.

“Next year we’ll be able to take those Texas kids home for Christmas. It just worked out terrific,” Rice said.

A NEW FACE WITH A WELL-KNOWN NAME

Boise State has three scholarships open for its next recruiting class. On Tuesday, one potential candidate was on campus making his official visit.

Collin Welp, a 6-foot-8 forward from Seattle (Wash.) Prep, is one of the Broncos’ top targets. Welp’s father, Christian, is the all-team leading scorer at the University of Washington, with 2,073 points from 1983 to 1987. Christian died of a heart attack in March 2015.

Dave Southorn: 208-377-6420, @IDS_Southorn

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