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, about today’s Wyoming at Boise State men’s basketball game. Tip-off is at 6 p.m.
Question: Boise State lost its third close game to San Diego State dating back to last season on Wednesday night, how do you think the Broncos will respond coming home to play Wyoming?
Answer: The loss at San Diego State was a tough one, no doubt. It was a loose ball 3-pointer that led to their defeat. But Boise State has been able to bounce back well from losses, even close ones, and being back at home should certainly provide a boost.
Q: When Boise State won at Wyoming on Jan. 9 it was without four players who were suspended. Is the team back to its normal rotation of players?
A: Boise State hasn’t had its top seven players together for a full Mountain West game yet. But the Broncos are getting healthier and they expect to have their top seven players – guards Derrick Marks, Jeff Elorriaga, Igor Hadziomerovic and Mikey Thompson, wing Anthony Drmic and centers Ryan Watkins and Kenny Buckner — for the game against Wyoming.
Q: Junior guard Jeff Elorriaga has proven his worth to Boise State numerous times, and hit the game-winning 3-pointer at Wyoming last month. What does he bring to the team, other than outstanding 3-point shooting, that makes such a big difference for this team?
A: Coach Leon Rice called Elorriaga the team’s “emotional security blanket.” And it is pretty amazing the difference he has made. Yes, he is a very good 3-pointer shooter and his availability allows the Broncos to play with four guards on the floor at the same time. But Elorriaga’s value extends well beyond that. He is the unquestioned leader and a coach on the floor. He is one of the team’s best defenders. Boise State is 0-3 when he does not play and 15-4 when he does.
Q: What is the biggest difference between Boise State when it plays at home and on the road?
A: Boise State is 9-1 at home and is beginning to create a home court advantage with its fans. As with most teams, the Broncos tend to play with a bit more confidence at home.
Q: What are the keys to Saturday’s game for both teams, and does Wyoming have a chance to get win?
A: Boise State leads the Mountain West in scoring offense. Wyoming leads the league in scoring defense. It will be a battle of tempo with the Broncos looking to push the ball. When the teams met in Laramie, Boise State walked the ball up on nearly every possession — a concession to its short-handed bench. Now that the Broncos are back to full strength, I expect them to try to increase the pace against Wyoming. The Broncos need to take care of games at home if they are to make an NCAA Tournament run.