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(Information in this team report is as of October 1.)
COACH AND PROGRAM
As successful as the Boise State football team has been since entering the WAC five years back, the same can't be said of the men in short pants.
Since taking over a program that was headed nowhere in a hurry, Broncos' head coach Greg Graham has tried to devise a winning formula with an exciting brand of basketball as his main ingredient.
The results after four years are mixed at best. Granted, he has an overall winning record, but 23 of his 66 victories came along in one solid season. The other three years were spent hovering just above or below the .500 mark. Not an acceptable outcome for Graham, who employs an up-tempo game players usually love.
But it comes at a price. When you've got a lot of guards scooting up and down the floor, match-ups against a big, half-court team often leave the Broncos on the wrong side of the scoreboard. Top squads in the WAC last year were blessed with dominant big men at power forward, an area Boise State is lacking.
Graham tried to offset that with four quick guards, who create havoc on defense that produces scoring opportunities on offense. The idea is to pressure the perimeter, disrupt the passing lanes to the big men down low and hit layups and open threes off the fast break.
It's not a bad philosophy, but if you get ground down in a half-court game, one Nevada and Utah State played so well last season, you've got to have an alternative weapon in the post. And that's where problems could occur in the coming campaign for Boise State.
Let's start with the good news for the Broncos. After last year's disappointing season, top guard Coby Karl (17.2 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 4.0 apg) declared himself eligible for the NBA Draft, but kept open the door for a possible return for his senior season. After a lukewarm reception at the professional level, the 6-4 point guard thought it best to give the Broncos one last shot, and Graham couldn't have been happier.
The son of Denver Nuggets head coach George Karl is the perfect point man for Graham's offensive philosophies. Coby Karl not only sees the court like a young coach, he can also hit from the outside and crash the boards. He led the team in scoring and assists, and was third in rebounding.
Last year's backcourt averaged 37.1 points a game among three returning starters, but make no mistake, Karl is the man that makes things go. A second-team All-WAC pick as a junior, Karl averaged 19.1 points in conference games. The three-year starter was among the WAC's best in seven of 12 major offensive categories, including scoring, rebounds and assists.
"We'll go as far as Coby can take us," Graham said. "His return only improves our team chemistry that I think is the best since I've been here. Our players have been in the program for several seasons, they understand what we're trying to get done. I'm excited about this team. We've got a good blend of experience and talent."