The rest of the Mountain West mens basketball schedule promises to be filled with the same kind of nail-biting endings that have characterized Boise States first two games.
And that means big minutes for the Broncos best players.
Wing Anthony Drmic played all 45 minutes in the Broncos overtime loss to No. 19 New Mexico on Wednesday. Point guard Derrick Marks played 43. Shooting guard Jeff Elorriaga, who played all 40 minutes in the conference opener at Wyoming, played 37 minutes.
They are competitors and they want to be out on the floor, coach Leon Rice said. When I sub them out, they look at me like Ive lost my mind.
Still, Rice said he and his staff must find a way to get the teams top three scorers a bit of a rest as conference play continues. Boise State (13-3, 1-1 in the Mountain West) visits Air Force (9-6, 1-2) on Saturday. Tip-off is at 2 p.m.
I need to do a better job of being able to get them small amounts of rest. You can manage it around media timeouts, Rice said.
The temptation to keep them on the floor at all times is strong. Marks, the teams leading scorer, was the only Bronco to score more than 12 points. Drmic was a key defender against the taller Lobos. Against New Mexico, neither team led by more than six points in the second half and overtime.
An 8-0 run can end that game, Rice said. ... When youre in that game, youre not thinking about a game the next week and the same with those guys. We manage their minutes in practice, so were not going to wear them out. Thats why they came here. They came here to play in those big moments.
Additionally, the Broncos are not a deep team and they have been particularly thin in conference play as Rice juggles suspensions.
Sixth-man Mikey Thompson, who played 34 minutes against New Mexico, and suspended center Kenny Buckner have been the Broncos only consistent contributors off the bench.
Thomas Bropleh, Joe Hanstad and Jake Ness have been productive on occasions, though none has been able to earn a regular spot in the rotation. Hanstad was in the starting lineup against Wyoming when four players were suspended. He did not play against New Mexico.
We definitely need to have more of a bench because those guys are playing such heavy minutes, said Hanstad, who is averaging 1.8 points per game in 10.5 minutes. We definitely need some production off the bench every game.
Without Buckner, who will miss the final game of a three-game suspension against Air Force, Ness has given the bench a small boost.
Its important for the team to be there as a whole, Ness said. You cant just rely on just the five starters.
Brian Murphy: 377-6444, Twitter: @MurphsTurph