In seven of Boise State’s last nine games, senior Jeff Elorriaga has been held to single-digit scoring. For the most part, the Broncos are just fine with that.
The 3-point ace, who has hit 39-of-68 3s (57.4 percent, No. 1 in the nation), is at times a main focus for opposing defenses, which therefore will have a defender positioned far from the basket.
“There’s a value to knowing where that fifth defender is going to be at all times — it creates driving lanes, some one-on-one opportunities for you,” Boise State coach Leon Rice said. “… if he’s not there, he’s going to pay, and if he is there, then it opens up some space to move in.”
Elorriaga, who is still scoring 11.4 points per game, the best average of his career, has noticed a bit of a change in how he is guarded.
“It’s funny, sometimes you step over half court and the guy’s in your face, and it was usually around the 3-point line last year,” Elorriaga said.
There are times when Elorriaga simply isn’t able to take too many shots — he tried only two Dec. 25 against Iowa State, one Dec. 3 against Utah and one Nov. 27 against Idaho. Of course, the Broncos are still 2-1 in those games, and the lone loss was by four to the then-No. 14 team in the nation.
“As long as we keep winning, I’m not worried … I’m sure I could look for my shot a little more, but if a team’s going to guard me out at 30 feet, we’ll play four-on-four, and the floor’s more spaced for us, that plays into our favor,” Elorriaga said.
Boise State will open Mountain West play Saturday against Fresno State, a team that is 7-7 but still plenty dangerous.
The Bulldogs have four scorers averaging 11.2 ppg or more, led by Marvelle Harris’ 16.6 ppg.
“They’re a team that can really be explosive at times,” Rice said.
Along with a handful of talented guards who can score, the Bulldogs play the perimeter well, holding opponents to 27.8 percent shooting from 3-point range (72-of-259).
“They play hard every time, every game,” Boise State senior Ryan Watkins said.
Junior guard Derrick Marks will become Boise State’s 24th 1,000-point scorer with his first basket Saturday — he currently has 998 for his career. Fellow junior Anthony Drmic has 1,147 points, No. 12 in school history. He needs 19 points to break into the top 10.
ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has Boise State as one of his “last four in” when projecting the NCAA tournament field. He has the Broncos as an 11-seed against Tennessee in a first-round game (check it out here). Back to Dayton again?
Drake coach Ray Giacoletti, who worked with Rice at Gonzaga, gave Boise State a shoutout last night after the Bulldogs shot 72 percent in the second half against Evansville. The Boise State nod comes around the 11:45 mark.