...but too late to get much done in recruiting to get immediate help. That didn't stop coach Graham from getting a lot out of an inherited roster, many of which would not likely make any other WAC program's 2-deep roster. While 7 WAC wins may not seem like much, it included wins over Hawaii and Tulsa. It was more than most fans could have expected going into the season and has translated into increased fan enthusiasm.
So, what about 2003-4? Well, back are the leagues #3 and #4 returning scorers (Aaron Haynes 14.7ppg and Bryan Defares 14.2ppg). Also back is the #2 returning rebounder for the WAC in Jason Ellis (7.8 rpg).
So, momentum is up, enthusiasm is up, we've got proven scorers and a very good rebounder coming back and coach Graham has now had a full year to recruit. We should be favored to compete for the title, right? Not likely; last year's team had three solid players on it but it also left the following legacies: worst shooting team (%) in the league, worst 3 pt shooting team, last in rebounding margin, and the woes go on.
We are faced with a major rebuilding that realistically should take another few years but there is some hope in the wings in a few redshirts and some incoming recruits. Before looking at the new guys, here's the proven talent returning:
Sr. Joe Skiffer (6'2") 3.17 apg, 4 ppg, 2 rpg
Sr. Bryan Defares (6'3") 14.2 ppg, 3.10 apg, 4.8 rpg
Sr. Booker Nabors (6'4") 7.1 ppg, 2 rpg
Sr. Cory Ortiz (6'4")
Joe Skiffer is very solid at PG, minus the tools to think score first. He's a terrific on ball defender and makes good decisions (would have had 2x the assists last year if the team could make a shot now and again) and will be the starting PG. And that will put more pressure on the rest of the team to make up for his lack of scoring.
Bryan Defares is tough, fearless, quick and does it all for the Broncos, but they rely too much on his jump shot that has questionable mechanics and can be ice cold for long stretches. Defares is a creator, and is a mismatch for most guards assigned to him. His minutes on the floor are critical to the Broncos success, but they'll need to find some outside shooting help for him. Defares will see time at forward as well since he plays bigger than his 6'3" frame and since the Broncos are short in the frontcourt again.
The 3rd guard in a 3 guard lineup will most likely be Booker Nabors, with challengers for PT coming from the redshirts and new recruits. Nabors has both an inside and outside game and can present a lot of problems for defenses, but he needs to find the desire that seems to be missing in action since his freshman year in the Big West conference.
These guys are all seniors so finding new guards was an emphasis in recruiting. Ok, so every position was an emphasis in recruiting.
Sr. Aaron Haynes (6'6") 14.9 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 1 block
Jr. Jason Ellis (6'7") 9.2 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 1 block
So. Josh Bates (6'7") 2 ppg, 1 rpg
Both Haynes and Ellis will start and both bring alot of game. Haynes will go inside and out and is a nightmare when he goes outside for the long shot, but he's no different from the rest of the Broncos in that he needs to make a lot more of them to force defenses to be honest. As with most JC transfers, that one year of D1 experience makes a big difference and most make a big step up in their 2nd year, so we may see all league type numbers from Haynes this year.
Ellis was asked by coach Graham to step into a leadership role last year and for a while it was a struggle for the career role player. Once Ellis got comfortable in that role, he flourished. His best games were in the conference tournament and that looks good for the Broncos coming into the 2003 season.
Josh Bates is a surprising walkon from Boise that scraps for his minutes. He's tenacious and adds some needed size inside on D. He'll provide needed rest for Ellis.
Sr. Kostas Avgerinos (7'1") 1 ppg, 1 rpg
The lone returning post is 7'1" Kostas Avgerinos, who has the size that the Broncos need but was far too raw last year to contribute. It may asking for too much to see a whole lot more this coming season either. Kostas will not start, forcing Ellis to again play in the post where he is physically outmatched night in and night out.
There's plenty of talent in this group but unfortunately or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, there's no time to mature and grow; help and depth are needed now and that's why this season is such a wildcard. Two scorers and solid inside presence are needed out of this group.
Presented in order of likely PT as of this writing:
RS Fr Larry Davidson (6'9" forward) Australia
Davidson came to Boise State via Graham and the UO connection, Davidson was recruited by Oregon but not signed when they found out about his sore knees. Graham looked into it and found that the problem was not structural damage and that with surgery he was a good risk. That looks real smart today. Calcium deposits under both kneecaps was the diagnosis and both were operated on last year. Fully recuperated, Davidson is back in Australia playing daily with the best in the country, getting much needed court time. Blessed with a soft, accurate shot out to 3 pt range, Davidson is also very comfortable with his back to the basket. A future marquee player for Boise State.
RS Fr Coby Karl (6'4" guard)
The son of NBA coach, George Karl, Coby has been around big time basketball his entire life. He thinks like a coach and is a born leader. But best of all for the Broncos, he's a pure shooter with limitless range. In one scrimmage I watched last year, Karl played for the ‘B' team of all non-starters and he outscored the starting 5 by himself for the first 8 minute quarter before he ran out of gas. He redhsirted last year at both his and his dad's request, so he could get stronger. As thin as he was, he would have made a big contribution last year and the staff is eager to give him his chances this year. A real threat for Booker Nabor's minutes.
Jr Franco Harris (5'11" guard)
A charter member of the all name team, Harris is a pure shooter's shooter. On his recruiting visit he had the team in awe of his distance and accuracy. A 2-time first team all-California JC player, Harris averaged 18.2 ppg with 40% accuracy from 3. Will see immediate PT.
Jr Mattias Johansson (7' center)
Mattias averaged about 5ppg/3rpg at a JC in Ariz that went 27-5 and advanced to the national tournament. Wasn't key part of team's offensive attack but Graham says he is physical, plays hard, has nice touch to 17 feet and plays good defense. Should help immediately but not much on offense.
Fr Darius Harper (6'2" guard)
Out of the Dallas Tx area; Darius averaged 18ppg/7apg; 2nd team all state, 1st team all region, McD's nominee as a senior. Texas 6-4A Offensive player of the year as a Jr, averaging 23 ppg but role changed as a senior to more of a PG leader….
Son of former NBA guard Derrick Harper. Big, strong, can play the 1,2 or 3
Fr Eric Lane (6' PG)
Eric was a 3 year starter for St John Bosco in LA, Wooden award winner for player of the year for CIF IIA in California; averaged 20 ppg/6apg---46% from 3(71 of 153).
PG of the future for the Broncos, can lead and SCORE. Recruited by most of the PAC10 during his Jr. year, then blew his knee. All big name schools backed off and BSU stayed with him and that was smart. He rehabbed like a monster over the summer and came back as good as ever, earning player of the year honors in California. Could break into the lineup this year.
Keys to a Succesful 2003-4 season:
While 16-17 wins will be a success, there are other measures that will mean more to the long term plan for the Broncos and that's how the new guys step up. And it will take 2-3 of them to step up big if the Broncos are going to get over the .500 hump.
If Karl and Harris can add the outside shot that was missing last year, then Defares can play to his strengths and won't have to log 35+ minutes a game to do it.
If Davidson or Johannsen can make the transition to D1 ball, then Ellis will have better matchups and the Broncos won't be such an easy target inside for the rest of the WAC. This will allow for even more development in Ellis' game, which will be fun to watch.
Lots of IF's in the equation this year but the future is starting to take shape and as a diehard college hoops junky, I sure like what I see.
I'm betting that the Broncos get over the .500 hump in 2003, if not just barely.
Boise State Men's Basketball Prospectus 2003-2004
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