Jeremy Mauss of SB Nation's Mountain West Connection reached out to me for a Q&A about the game tonight between the Boise St. Broncos and Kentucky Wildcats. Below, you will find my questions and Jeremy's answers. My answers to his questions may be found over at MW Connection at this link.
Here we go:
1. This is the first ever meeting between Boise St. and Kentucky. How do Boise St. fans feel about this game? What do you think the average Bronco fan thinks about Kentucky basketball?
They are extremely exited to be taking on one of the best programs around, and there even might some optimism for a possible upset. This is Boise State's best team in a very long time and they should be a contender to win the Mountain West, and so the fans feel at worst they should give Kentucky a good game. A loss is probably expected but I think Boise State fans would be distraught if this is a blowout. Broncos fans probably feel like everyone else that the Kentucky program is very good, even though last season was not a typical Kentucky season, and always have a great team which is expected to make a deep NCAA Tournament run every year.
2. Boise St. had some big wins last season against more highly thought of basketball schools like Creighton, LSU, UNLV, Colorado St. and San Diego St. Do you think the Broncos can do better this year? Why or why not?
Yes, they bring back pretty much everyone from last year's squad, and most importantly their two best players are back in Anthony Drmic and Derrick Mark, and their top seven scorers. However, this team is balanced and has five players who are averaging over 10 points this season. Just having most of the last years's team on this roster really helps and the confidence has to be there knowing that they beat so many NCAA Tournament teams last year, despite them losing to LaSalle in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament last year. However, we do not really know for sure how good this Boise State team is yet since their schedule has been one of the worst in all of college basketball at 344, according to Ken Pomeroy. Their best win to date is a 69-67 win over Utah who themselves have played a schedule just as bad as the Broncos. Everyone will know Tuesday night how good Boise State can be this year. It is hard to see them take a step back with all of their returning talent they have and Leon Rice is a very good coach. As for being better, they are the prototypical team that is not really known for being this great team but they have a team filled with upperclassmen that could give teams trouble who have a bunch of younger players even though the opposing team has more talent.
3. Boise St. shoots the ball really well from everywhere, but doesn't really rely on the 3-point shot as a large component of their scoring. How would you describe the Boise St. offense? What are the top two things the Broncos try to do offensively? Defensively?
Boise State likes to keep the ball moving along the outside with quick passes to find the open man. They do not really attack the basket too much and will shoot jump shots, and that is mainly due to the lack of a post player. They move a lot without the ball and try to create mismatches with multiple screens, and that is how they create mismatches to get open shots and easy buckets. That movement also can create some easily fouls and get to the free throw line for some easy buckets. Defensively they are not bad but they are not that good, and if Kentucky forces their large lineup upon Boise State then will be in a lot of trouble. As for what they will do is get in the faces of the bigger defenders and force turnovers which is what they do fairly well. However, also look for Boise State to run some double team help or zone to try to counter the big lineup. That is not in their norm but against Kentucky's they may try a few new things.
4. How concerned are you about the size of Kentucky in the front court? Where do you think the Broncos have the biggest advantage?
This has to be a concern since Boise State's big men they have do not play that often, so rebounding will be an issue for Boise State. Boise State may try to force Kentucky to go with a small lineup and make them matchup with the Broncos but that may not works since Kentucky is the better team. If Boise State is able get some easy points with a faster lineup against the bigs that would likely be the only way that the Broncos could force the Wildcats into a smaller lineup to match Boise State. The advantage Boise State has is their shooting accuracy which is one of the best in the nation at 50 percent, and if the Broncos shooting remains at that level that is where they have an edge over Kentucky.
5. Anthony Drmic didn't play last game. Will he be available Tuesday? What, if anything, was wrong with him? How important is he to the team?
He will be in the lineup he just got sick earlier in the day and Boise State didn't need him in the lineup against Carroll College. Against Kentucky he will need to play at his best and be over that sickness if Boise State is going to have a chance to in this game.
6. Predict the outcome
I think it depends how well Boise State can shoot the ball. This team has played in a lot of high pressured arenas and have yet to be really rattled at all; yet Rupp Arena is by far the biggest stage out of any place this team has played in the past year. Boise State will probably hang around because I do think they can shoot the ball well enough to stay in the game, but I think Kentucky is more athletic and size will prove to be too much and the Broncos will fade in the second half.
We here at A Sea of Blue would like to thank Jeremy for his part in this exchange. Hopefully, Kentucky and Boise St. will play again in the near future. Here's to a great game.