The Boise State men's basketball team finished the 2017-18 season ranked No. 7 in the country with an average rebound margin of +8.1 per game.
In order to keep their place among the nation's elite again this season, the Broncos must replace the production of their top two rebounders from a year ago.
Chandler Hutchison and Chris Sengfelder combined for 14.3 rebounds per game, or about 37 percent of the Broncos' 38.5 rebounds per game average.
In honor of being 4⃣4⃣ days away from our season opener against Idaho State (Nov. 10), you know we gotta throw it back to when @CmoHutchison broke the single-game school record for points with 44 against San Diego State last season!#ThrowbackThursday #BleedBlue pic.twitter.com/sbhT4Tec9g— Boise State MBB (@BroncoSportsMBB) September 27, 2018
"That's a big concern for me, and that's always been a staple of our program," Boise State coach Leon Rice said. "That's what these guys have to understand. The guys that will rebound will get to play. I'll find out who those are, and we'll put a team out there that can rebound."
With the Broncos' 2018-19 exhibition opener set for Nov. 5 against Vanguard and seven new faces on the roster, Rice and his staff will have the next month to get a feel for where that necessary production could come from.
Six-foot-11 redshirt senior forward Zach Haney started all 32 games for the Broncos last season and is a leading candidate to assume a major role on the boards. Haney is the Broncos' top returning rebounder after averaging 5.5 per game last season.
And as one of three seniors on this year's roster, Haney is well-versed in what Rice expects on the court.
"Coach Rice emphasizes (rebounding) every year," Haney said. "So I don't think we'll lack at all in rebounding this year."
The Broncos outrebounded their opponent in 27 of their 32 games last season, which established a new school record. They also ranked No. 16 in the nation in defensive rebounds per game (28.47) and 40th in total rebounds per game (38.5).
Haney said Monday ahead of the Broncos' first official practice of the season that this year's team is being "underrated" by outsiders.
That chip-on-the-shoulder mentality is already showing up in practice.
"I just think that everybody's chasing a spot and everybody's just excited for the season, so they're going to work and do whatever they can to get on the court and help the team out," he said. "... We think we're underrated, so we've just got to prove people wrong and we've got to bust our butts to do it every day."
While Rice says he doesn't like to distinguish potential starters from non-starters too early in the season, both Rice and Haney hinted Monday that junior college transfer Roderick Williams should have an immediate impact. The 6-7, 209-pounder from East Los Angeles College averaged 19.3 points and 6.3 rebounds last season.
Rice said Williams has a "natural ability to score" and is a "great rebounder."
Haney had a similar assessment.
"Roderick, he hustles his butt off. He can rebound the basketball. He's a very athletic, agile guy," Haney said. "He's exciting to play with, and he's a good piece to the team."
But there's one skill that likely will play the biggest role in determining this year's starting five.
"(Rebounding's) a big factor, because it's what we've been good at. It's what we hang our hat on. It's one of our identities of our program," Rice said. "When I am differentiating between two players, I'm going to lean to the guy that rebounds a little bit better, and these guys know that. They've seen that over and over."
This article is written by Rachel Roberts from The Idaho Statesman and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to email@example.com.