Broncos begin practice after productive summer

The Boise State basketball team huddles up before its first practice Friday.

The Boise State basketball team huddles up before its first practice Friday.

Anthony Drmic took it fairly easy this summer. Jeff Elorriaga hit the links. Ryan Watkins dodged elbows from the Artist Formerly Known As Ron Artest.

After a productive offseason, Drmic, Elorriaga, Watkins and the rest of the Boise State Broncos took part in their first practice Friday in preparation of the 2013-14 season with excitement inside and outside the program at perhaps an all-time high.

“For me, I’m excited, as a team, even more excited,” Drmic said.

Boise State coach Leon Rice said “everybody’s really, really good” from a health standpoint. Elorriaga and guard Mikey Thompson both had offseason surgeries to clear up lingering issues, but both were taking part in Friday’s practice.

Elorriaga, a senior guard, spent most of his offseason around Boise, taking a bit of time to play golf outside of basketball, including a round at Oregon’s famed Bandon Dunes.

“We were focused, it’s our last year, we’re going to make it the best year we can — we worked out a lot … a lot of golf,” said Elorriaga, who claims a 10 handicap. “I can hit it straight and control it a bit.”

Asked if he was the team’s best golfer, he said “I don’t think anyone else golfs, so I hope so.”
Watkins spent some time back home in California, and played in the famed Drew League in Los Angeles in July. James Harden and Kevin Durant played in it this year, along with Metta World Peace, with whom Watkins got up close and personal.

“We were both going for a rebound, he’s got a little mean streak in him, and he got that rebound, swung his elbow and it hit me in the face,” Watkins said. “I got in his face — and he got right back in mine. My adrenaline took over, because if I was thinking straight, I probably wouldn’t have walked over there.”

Junior guard Derrick Marks went home to Chicago after the Broncos wrapped up team-organized practices in July and spent plenty of time with his personal trainer. He told me in July after the team’s last summer practice that the team was more focused than ever. A few thousand miles away in Australia, so did Drmic, who rested up back home this summer and did not take part in the summer practices.

“I took a month or two off, did a lot of weights and all that,” he said. “… the last three years, I hadn’t really had a chance to chill out.”

The break was needed for Drmic, the top returning scorer in the Mountain West (17.7 points per game), who has logged 1,915 minutes his first two seasons while dealing with a lingering ankle injury.

“He knows what to expect in a college basketball season, and he spent a great deal of time working on his body, he got a little bigger, a little stronger, and you’d hope his body holds up maybe a little better,” Rice said. “Anthony plays so darn hard and he throws his body around, and he plays a lot of minutes too. I think he’s coming in a lot fresher than he ever has.”

The Broncos will hold an open scrimmage, free to the public, at 5 p.m. on Saturday at Bronco Gym.

Ryan Watkins, right, has a few words with Metta World Peace in July at a Drew League game in Los Angeles.

Ryan Watkins, right, has a few words with Metta World Peace in July at a Drew League game in Los Angeles.

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