Boise State (3-2) completes a four-game road swing this Friday, Nov. 30, when they travel to Portland, Ore. to face the University of Portland Pilots (4-2) at 7:00 p.m. (Pacific) in the Chiles Center. The Broncos have gone 1-2 so far on the current road swing. They are looking to break through with a victory on an opponent’s home floor this weekend, the one win was on a neutral floor last week over Cal State Bakersfield. Following the match up with Portland, Boise State will return home to host undefeated Oral Roberts, a 2007 NCAA Tournament team, at 7:00 p.m. (Mountain) on Monday, Dec. 3, in Taco Bell Arena.
Lately For The Broncos...
Boise State has opened the season at 3-2 overall. The Broncos are coming off a split last weekend at the Hilton Concord Thanksgiving Classic at Saint Mary’s in Moraga, Calif. They opened the tournament with a convincing 83-53 victory over Cal State Bakersfield before falling 78-63 to the host Saint Mary’s Gaels in the championship game last Saturday. Junior point guard Tasha Harris was named to the Classic’s all-tournament team after averaging 15 points a game in the competition.
Looking at the Boise State Broncos (3-2) . . .
The Broncos are 3-2 overall entering the week’s competition. Boise State is the defending Western Athletic Conference champions after going 12-4 in league play last season. They set a school record for overall wins after finishing 24-9 during the 2006-07 campaign highlighted by the WAC’s regular season and tournament titles, and a NCAA Tournament first round appearance. This year’s team was picked to repeat their conference championship in 2008 by both the league’s coaches and media.
Who To Watch For The Broncos . . .
Junior point guard Tasha Harris has led the Broncos in scoring during four of the first five games averaging 17.2 points per game to go with 3.4 rebounds, 2.0 assists, and 1.6 steals. Harris is a 2007 WAC Preseason All-WAC Second Team honoree. Junior shooting guard and the WAC’s Preseason Player of the Year Jessica Thompson is second in scoring and rebounding at 14.2 points and 5.4 boards per game. The two combine for almost 32 points per game, nearly half of Boise State’s total per game. Jamia Malone, a JC transfer, is third on the team in scoring averaging 8.2 points per game, followed by Rebecca Kepilino at 6.0 points and a team high 6.6 rebounds per outing.
Offensively As A Team . . .
Boise State is an up-tempo team who looks to push the ball up the floor. The Broncos feature the WAC’s fourth ranked scoring offense averaging 67.6 points per game on 36.1 percent (WAC 7th) shooting from the floor, 31.4 percent (WAC 4th) from three-point range, and 66.3 percent (WAC 4th)from the foul line. They are second in the league for three-pointers per game at 6.6 per contest.
Defensively As A Team . . .
Defensively, Boise State allows 67 points per game to rank fourth in the league. Meanwhile, opponents have shot 39.9 percent (WAC 4th) from the court and 28.6 percent (WAC 3rd) from long range. Boise State is a negative two (WAC t-4th) in rebound margin, 44.2 to 42.2. The Broncos are forcing 20 turnovers per game while giving it away 15.6 times per game, they lead the WAC in turnover margin at +4.4.
What’s Back From 2006-07 . . .
Who’s back for the Broncos: Boise State returns three starters and seven letterwinners from last season’s WAC championship squad. Jessica Thompson (13.7 ppg, 3.7 rpg) returns as the starting two-guard where she was an All-WAC First Team honoree and the WAC Tournament MVP in 2006-07. The junior from Temecula, Calif. enters the 2007-08 campaign as the WAC’s Preseason Player of the Year and a Preseason All-WAC First Team honoree. Tasha Harris (10.6 ppg, 4.0 rpg) is back as the starting point guard where the junior was named to the WAC All-Tournament Team last spring and a Preseason All-WAC Second Team honoree this fall. The third starter back is senior Jackie Lee (7.1 ppg, 4.7 rpg) at the small forward where she has been a three-year starter. The other four Broncos back include senior center Amanda Stewart (2.7 ppg, 3.0 rpg), junior forwards Rebecca Kepilino (7.6 ppg, 6.1 rpg) and Jenna Golassi (4.1 ppg, 2.4 rpg), and sophomore center Ja'Lara Walker (1.3 ppg, 2.0 rpg).
As a team: Boise State led the WAC in scoring offense and defense last season at 68.9 ppg and 61.0 ppg respectively. They set school records for points with 2,275 and rebounds with 1,330. They return 66 percent of the points scored last year, 72.5 percent of the rebounds, 67.9 percent of the assists, 59.8 percent of the blocks, 75.9 percent of the steals, and 59.5 percent of the three-pointers made. Boise State has always been among the top schools in three-point shooting since joining the league in 2001.
Portland is a member of the West Coast Conference. They enter this week at 4-2 overall and are coming off a solid 21-point, 86-65, victory over Cal State Northridge last Sunday in Portland. They also have wins over Washington State (70-40), Idaho (83-55), and Utah State (68-55). They return four starters and 12 letterwinners from last year’s 10-20 squad that went 2-12 in the WCC to place last. Jim Sollars is in his 22nd season at Portland where he is 289-320 overall. His 2007-08 squad was picked to place last in the WCC race by the league’s coaches.
As a Team: Portland is averaging 74.8 points a game and are a plus 12.7 in scoring margin holding the opposition to 62.2 points per outing. They are also a plus five in rebound margin and average 41.8 boards per game. The Pilots shoot the ball extremely well hitting an impressive 43.6 percent from the floor.
Who to Watch: They have two players averaging double figure points led by Laiken Dollente at 12.8 ppg to go with 3.8 rebounds and 4.0 assists, meanwhile, Kendra Morris ranks second in scoring at 10.8 ppg. Laura Thomas adds 9.5 points while Rachel Warren chips in with 9.2 ppg and a team high 6.0 rebounds per game.
Scouting Oral Roberts...
The Golden Eagles are the defending champions of the Summit League. They enter this week’s competition undefeated at 4-0 with wins over Cameron (70-50), Tulsa (48-33), Northern Colorado (83-56), and Central Arkansas (73-54). Prior to their game in Boise on Monday, ORU will travel to Texas Southern in Houston for a Saturday afternoon encounter. Oral Roberts returned four starters and six letterwinners from last year’s league champions that went 8-6 in conference, 22-11 overall, and advanced to the NCAA Tournament where they lost 63-42 to Purdue. Jerry Finkbeiner is in his 12th year at ORU where he has accumulated a 181-145 record. His 2007-08 Golden Eagles were picked by the conference’s coaches to repeat as champions.
As a Team: Oral Roberts averages 68.5 points per game while allowing 48.2 giving them a impressive plus 20.3 in scoring margin. They have been shooting 42.4 percent from the floor and 34.5 percent from the arc. They average 40.8 rebounds per game compared to the opposition’s 36.2 rpg. They are a plus nine in turnover margin forcing 26.5 per game compared to their giving it away 17.5.
Who to Watch: The Golden Eagles are led by Rachel Watman averaging 16.0 points per game. She is followed by Jenny Hardin, the Summit League’s Preseason Player of the Year, at 10.8 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. No one else averages double-figure points. Mariana Camargo leads on the boards at 6.3 rebounds per game.