Boise State men’s basketball has become known for its high-volume three-point shooting and fast-paced offensive style, but head coach Leon Rice emphasized the importance of more improved post play this offseason.
His wish may have come true even before the start of the season.
In Boise State’s 80-52 exhibition victory over Lewis-Clark State, senior forward Ryan Watkins led the Broncos with 15 points and made his first six shot attempts.
Watkins is also one of two starting seniors in the Broncos rotation, along with point guard Jeff Elorriaga.
“Well Ryan (has) worked really, really hard throughout the offseason,” Rice said. “He’s got a nice touch. He’s got a nice face-up game. He can post you up and he’s crafty around the basket.”
Watkins’ soft touch was on display in the opening minutes of the game, when he made all 12 of the Broncos opening points. This streak was possible because of Boise State’s ability to find the hot hand, according to Rice.
“When you go out there and you have these guys behind you, you feel like you can do anything,” Watkins said.
Defense and rebounding have been the focus for Boise State’s post-players, and limiting this high-scoring Warriors team to 52 points was a major accomplishment for the Broncos.
“We knew they were coming in hot — they have four games scoring over 100 points — and they came out hot,” Watkins said. “We just had to buckle down in the second half and play defense.”
Boise State fans got their first glimpse of Rice’s newest Australian secret weapon in freshman forward Nick Duncan as well. Duncan has been heralded as an offensively-gifted big man, but Rice was one of few people to see him in live-game action.
Duncan finished with 8 points, on 2-of-4 shooting from three, and 8 rebounds.
“He can really shoot it, and he does a lot of things. He’s a hustler, he’s a scrapper — he’s a bigger Jeff Elorriaga,” Rice said.
In addition to his accurate shooting, Duncan adds a strong rebounding body for the Broncos in the paint, which they were missing at times last season.
Duncan’s craftiness on the glass allowed him to snag three offensive rebounds for Boise State.
“He’s just a warrior and a competitor,” Rice said. “That’s a freshman playing his first time in the United States of America…You would have never known that.”
It may only be an exhibition, but Boise State appears to have evolved at their weakest positions from last season. The Broncos face Texas-Arlington in their first home game of the season on Nov. 8 at Taco Bell Arena