WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi did a question-and-answer session with Brian Murphy, who covers Boise State men’s basketball for the Idaho Statesman.
Look for Q&As with writers who cover the Mountain West opponents of the University of Wyoming throughout the conference season.
Question: Are you surprised with Boise State’s 12-2 start and what have the Broncos done well in the nonconference portion of their schedule?
A: A bit surprised for sure. The Broncos played well late last season and returned many of the same players, so I thought Boise State would be better. But for the Broncos to play Michigan State to the last minute on the road and defeat Creighton on the road opened some eyes — and attracted some fans.
The Broncos have shot the ball extremely well from 3-point range (41.3 percent, 10th in the NCAA) and played very unselfish basketball.
Q: The Broncos have a pair of really good sophomores in guard Derrick Marks and wing Anthony Drmic. Are they the top two players to watch, and if not, who else have been good for the team thus far?
A: Marks (16.3 points, 4.0 assists per game) and Drmic (15.4 points and 4.8 rebounds per game) are certainly the team’s top offensive weapons. Marks scored 18 straight points in the second half against Creighton. Both Marks and Drmic have scored more than 30 points in a game this season.
But the Broncos are also getting huge contributions from guard Jeff Elorriaga (eighth in the country in 3-point percentage at 48.4 percent) and center Ryan Watkins (9.1 points and 7.2 rebounds per game). The Broncos work efficiently with Marks’ ability to drive to the basket opening shooting opportunities for Drmic and Elorriaga and rebounding chances for Watkins, whose man often slides over to help on Marks.
Q: What are some of the concerns or question marks with this team heading into conference play?
A: The Broncos are not especially deep, essentially playing a seven-man rotation with guard/forward Thomas Bropleh emerging as an eighth man. So there are concerns about foul trouble and fatigue. Marks, in particular, must avoid silly fouls.
Rebounding can be a problem for the Broncos, who play primarily a four-guard lineup with the 6-foot-6 Drmic operating at power forward. Boise State is outrebounding opponents 35.3 to 28.6 in nonconference play, one key to its hot start.
Q: How good do you think Boise State can be in the Mountain West this season?
A: Boise State was picked to finish eighth in the nine-team Mountain West in the preseason poll. That kind of finish would be a big disappointment now. Boise State is still a very young team — 10 freshmen and sophomores — but a top-five finish in the Mountain West seems reasonable. It won’t be easy and it will depend on Boise State staying healthy.
Q: What do the Broncos need to do well to win at Wyoming?
A: I think the most important part the game will be tempo. The Broncos average 79.1 points per game. Wyoming holds opponents to 54.6 points per game. Whichever team can dictate tempo should be successful. The Broncos, who have played five road games, must also be able to handle the atmosphere in their first league road game of the season.