During the era of head coach Leon Rice, Boise State basketball has become one defined by perimeter shooting.
With long range specialists like senior guard Jeff Elorriaga, and versatile guards like junior Anthony Drmic, the Broncos have dominated three-point efficiency.
Heading into this season, the Broncos were the only team in the 2013 NCAA Tournament to return all five starters to their squad.
With expectations for another clinical season from beyond the arc, it has been the Boise State posts who have stolen the spotlight, specifically senior forward Ryan Watkins and freshman forward Nick Duncan.
Standing at 6-foot-9, 229 pounds, Watkins is the biggest body on the Boise State roster. At that size, Boise State is significantly undersized down in the post against almost any team they go up against this season.
Watkins has thrived however, establishing himself as one of the best rebounders in the country.
“It’s so special as a coach to get to see a kid with just continuous improvement all the way to his senior year,” Rice said. “It’s just really impressive and it shows you how much character this kid has and that hunger to get better.”
Watkins has posted a double-double in nine games this season. Averaging 10.7 rebounds a game, Watkins is the best offensive rebounder in the conference, outpacing the next player on the list by more than 10 rebounds.
Those second chances have been vital to keeping the Broncos in games against powerhouses like San Diego State and New Mexico.
“What’s maybe lost on it is how unselfish it is,” Rice said. “A lot of guys play hard when they’re trying to score, but he’s playing hard for the team on the defensive end and rebounding the ball.”
On the opposite block from Watkins during the past several games has been Duncan.
Getting over 30 minutes of playing time against both Utah State and New Mexico in the absence of junior guard Igor Hadziomerovic, Duncan showcased his skills in spreading the floor, knocking down five three-point shots in each contest.
“He’s really important to this team and this program moving forward,” Rice said. “I think we’ve got a great one there that is just going to get better and better and be a weapon in this league for a very long time.”
With extra attention being focused on Elorriaga this season, the door has opened up for Duncan to be a feature in the Boise State offense as a freshman. Extra minutes for Duncan could be key for the Broncos building a foundation for the future.
The versatility of the Boise State post game could be important in the Broncos making a push in the second half of their conference schedule to make the return trip to the NCAA Tournament.