Oct. 9, 2014
It's early October which means one thing, basketball is around the corner as preseason camp begins. On Monday, Oct. 6, the Broncos opened official practice for what could be the most exciting campaign for Boise State women's basketball since the back-to-back Western Athletic Conference championships of 2007 and 2008.
The Broncos return everyone from last year's team that went 18-14 overall, tied for third-place in the Mountain West Conference race at 12-6 and advanced to the second round of its first postseason tournament since 2008. The team is excited and ready to go as they prepare for the opening tip on Nov. 7 with an exhibition game against Northwest Nazarene in Taco Bell Arena. Fans will be treated to a doubleheader as the men's team will square off against Montana Tech later that night.
This past Monday afternoon head coach Gordy Presnell and his coaching staff welcomed 16 players to the first day of practice in Taco Bell Arena. This is Presnell's largest squad since he arrived on campus 10 years ago. Ont only is it the largest team for the veteran coach, but also the tallest team in Presnell's Boise State tenure.
"I am real pleased with our progress this week. It has been competitive and there has been a lot of enthusiasm," said Presnell. "I am excited to see how we progress through the next couple of weeks in how we are developing and how well the new kids are catching on."
Boise State will practice a total of 30 times between this past Monday through the exhibition game on Nov. 7. During their time on the floor together, the team will work on the basics, while adding new twists to their offensive play book and learning a new defensive system.
"Our goal during this time of year is to get the base fundamentals of our offense and defense set, as well as teach our terminology to the new kids," said Presnell. "We use it as a motivational time, they work hard all summer to get to this point heading into a new season. We use this time of year to get them into competitive situations and then in the last part of October we will start evaluating where everyone is at as we head into the first series of games."
Last year the Broncos had only one true post player and four players taller than six feet, of which only three were healthy enough to play. This year they have seven players over six feet tall with one at 6-foot-4 and two at 6-foot-3. In addition, they now have seven who will play in the post. There were times last year when the Broncos struggled to get seven or eight healthy bodies not only on the floor for practice but for games as well. That should change this year with the added depth and return of some injured players like sixth-year senior Kinzi Poteet.
"Our depth makes it more competitive during practice this year, but our depth also gives us more opportunity for additional reps which increases the ability for the kids to understand what we are doing. It should makes us more competitive in tight games," commented Presnell. "In the past we had eight or nine players out on the floor with coaches filling in so we could go five on five during practice. That has limited what we could do with the team and what we could work on. Now we have all these bodies that we actually have three teams of five going through practice everyday. It is quite a change from recent years."
"We are going to play more people this year and play more of a pressure defense, as well as a more attacking type offense getting the ball up the floor quickly in transition. We are hoping that our depth this year will be a factor, especially in the middle of second halves of games.
The Broncos return all 12 players from 2013-14 including all five starters and add four quality recruits to their numbers. Among the five returning starters is the 2014 MW Newcomer of the Year, all-conference first team and all-defensive team honoree Deanna Weaver (13.7 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 2.5 apg, 1.9 spg), a senior wing. Joining Weaver is the MW Co-Freshman of the Year in sophomore guard Yaiza Rodriguez Ortego (9.5 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 3.3 apg). Junior center Miquelle Askew (13.0 ppg, 6.0 rpg) started all 32 games at center in 2013-14. The 6-foot-3 center was the only healthy option for the Broncos in the post at the end of the season. Redshirt-junior Keiahnna Engel (7.6 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 2.6 apg, 1.4 spg) started all 32 contests at two-guard. Rounding out the five starters is redshirt-junior Lexie Der (10.9 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 1.5 apg, 1.1 spg) who missed the final six games with an injury. The Burnaby, B.C., Canada, native will miss the fall portion of the 2014-15 season while she recovers, but is expected back for the start of conference play following Christmas. Last season was a unique one for the Broncos who saw 10 of their 12 players lead the team in scoring at least once during the year. In addition, two other Broncos including junior wing Kayla Reinhart (6.6 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 1.0 apg) and sophomore guard Brooke Pahukoa (5.6 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 1.6 apg) saw time as starters with nine and 10 starts, respectively.
Boise State set a team record for 3-pointers made in a season last year with 225. That charge was led by Reinhart, the Broncos long-range sharp shooter. As a sophomore in 2013-14 Reinhart led the MW in 3-point percentage on the year at .422 and finished the season setting the conference record for league competition hitting 58.7 percent in MW play.
"With so many people back this year it allows us to try and add more things into what we do on the court during a game to make us even more diverse in our offense and defense," commented Presnell. "It also gives us the ability to lean a little on the older players to help us teach the system and new things, helping ensure that the new kids to the program understand what we are after."
Joining the Broncos for the new season are two transfers and two true freshmen. Camille Redmon, a 6-foot-4 center, comes to Boise State for one year after graduating from Purdue last spring. The senior gives the Broncos a second intimidating presence down low in the post along with Askew. Redmon ranked seventh in the Big Ten last year for blocks at 1.5 per game and her 48 blocks were the 15th most in a season in Purdue history. The second transfer is Julia Dufurrena from the College of Southern Idaho. The Winnemucca, Nev., native was a two-time NJCAA All-Region honoree for the Golden Eagles. She left CSI as one of the top rebounders in the history of the program ranking second all-time with 482 career boards with a 8.2 per game average. As a sophomore last season, Dufurrena led Region 18 in rebounding while setting the school single-season records for total rebounds with 360 and rebounds per game at 10.9 rpg. The two freshmen were both highly regarded players in their respective states of Nevada and Washington. Shalen Shaw (Reno, Nev.), a 6-foot-1 forward, led Reno High School to back-to-back state championships averaging 10.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, 7.0 assists, 1.7 blocks and 1.2 steals per game as a senior. She garnered numerous honors including: all-state once, two-time all-region first team, three-time all-conference, honorable mention all-conference as freshman, regional and conference player of the year once each and two-time team captain. Marijke Vanderschaaf joins Shaw as the only two freshmen on the roster this season. She is the second Bronco to come in at a legitimate 6-foot-3, adding size and depth to the post positions. During her senior year Vanderschaaf averaged 13.6 points, 13.0 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.7 blocks and 1.2 steals Eastlake High School. She recorded 16 games in double figure scoring including five with 20-plus points. As a senior, Vanderschaaf was named first-team All-KingCo, a member of the Washington All-Star Team for the 20th annual Northwest Shootout in Portland, Ore., and a McDonald's All-American nominee.
Stay tuned for an exciting season as the Broncos spend the rest of October getting ready for a title run in the Mountain West Conference. The season officially begins on Nov. 14th when Boise State hosts the regular season opener against Montana State at 7 p.m. in Taco Bell Arena. Remember that the Montana State Bobcats are coached by Bronco alum and Boise State Hall of Fame member Tricia Bader Binford. Bronco Nation gear up for 14 home games and come cheer on the Blue and Orange this year.