Thomas Bropleh cracked a wry smile as he approached Boise State basketball coach Leon Rice after Wednesday's victory over Air Force.
Rice grabbed Bropleh by his shoulders with an elated, "I told you it was coming."
The 10-points-in-12-minutes performance was the sort of showing off the bench that the Broncos, and Bropleh, had been waiting for.
Boise State plays at Fresno State at 8 p.m. Saturday.
"In a way, it was definitely a relief, and to do it in a big game meant a lot," said Bropleh, who had nine points in his previous four games. "I'm just glad to contribute, give us a spark and help us win. I hope I can carry it over and be in a place to do it again against Fresno."
Bropleh's 10 points were his second-most in a game this season (and most against a Division I team) and came on 4-for-4 shooting. It was the sort of game Rice had seen from Bropleh before - he was fourth on the team in scoring last season - but had not quite happened yet in 2012-13, where he's averaging 3.2 points and 12.3 minutes per game.
Prior to Wednesday, Bropleh hadn't scored more than five points in a game this season, and was shooting 32.9 percent.
"His numbers were, no other way to put it, awful, so for him to have that breakthrough was really, really important," Rice said. "He's such a great kid he really took a positive step (Wednesday)."
The emergence of younger guards, plus a lingering wrist injury, have been culprits in a reduced role for the 6-foot-5 Bropleh, who said he doesn't take his wrist for granted after realizing how much it is used without the ball in hand. He admits some of his struggles on the court and battle with an injury left him with an occasional lack of confidence.
"It was rough at times," Bropleh said. "It happens, we're all human. It's hard to sometimes not be out there to help, but you realize it's all about the team, and you have to make the most of what you get."
Rice and Bropleh's teammates relished his performance, knowing that he's had to deal with a different role than he had last season, and that he was waiting for a strong offensive showing.
"It had to (affect him), we worked hard at not letting it. I think he kept plugging away, his teammates believed in him, and he believes in himself," Rice said.
As Boise State heads into the backstretch of its season and eyes a possible NCAA Tournament at-large berth, it will need to find as many weapons as it can, particularly on a team that has struggled at times with depth. Getting a player like Bropleh more involved as the third man off the bench could be a difference-maker.
"We've been waiting for Thomas. I'm proud of the way he's stuck with it," Rice said. "That's what we need, that next guy to be able to come in and help us."
Now the challenge for Bropleh is to maintain that spark he provided Wednesday and be another weapon as the season winds down.
"It would mean a lot to me," Bropleh said. "If I can do more to help us win, I'd love it."
Dave Southorn: 377-6420, Twitter: @IDS_southorn