Here is a scary thought for the Mountain West and a comforting one for Boise State mens basketball coach Leon Rice:
Derrick Marks is getting better. Much better.
I think I have become twice the player that I was last year, said Marks, a 6-foot-3 sophomore point guard and the Broncos leading scorer in conference play last season.
Thats good news for the Broncos, who open the season Sunday at Taco Bell Arena against Texas Southern (2 p.m., 670 AM).
Marks was the teams best player down the stretch last year, when Boise State finished 13-17 in its first season in the Mountain West.
His improvement stems from better practice habits and longer stretches of complete concentration, skills the coaches have been working to develop in Marks since he arrived on campus from Chicago.
I just came in and I didnt know what to expect. Last year, I was just going through the motions. This year, thats something coaches have been on me about. I just have to have better practice habits so it can carry over to the game, said Marks, who averaged 9.4 points per game as a freshman. He scored a team-best 9.6 points per game in 14 regular-season Mountain West games.
Marks led the team in scoring seven times and scored three or fewer points seven times.
He could just go out-talent kids that he played against in high school. And when you play at a high level like the Mountain West Conference, youre not going to roll out there and be more talented than every player on every night, said Rice, who begins his third season in Boise.
So the Broncos have tried to add a maturity to Marks athleticism. More focus and less cheap fouls. More consistency and attention to detail. More big nights and fewer off ones.
Marks, who turned 18 in the middle of last season, is seeing the results.
By practicing harder, that carries over to the game and makes the game easier, Marks said.
Rice said there is no ceiling for Marks.
Hes probably made the biggest jump from the day we got him to today, Rice said. The first day we saw him, we knew this was a kid with tremendous upside with a knack for getting to the basket and a knack to finish. Hes tough and big and strong. Eventually hell be an all-league type of player someday.
Brian Murphy: 377-6444,Twitter: @MurphsTurph