Aussie freshman adds to Boise State basketball team's offense

Nick Duncan can give the Broncos size and a shooting stroke in the frontcourt.

dsouthorn@idahostatesman.comNovember 1, 2013 

  • Lewis-Clark State at Boise State

    Exhibition game

    Time: 7 p.m. Friday

    Radio: KBOI 670 AM

    Tickets: $8-$11.75 plus fees; Taco Bell Arena box office or via phone (426-4737)

    Records: Lewis-Clark State is 4-0; Boise State is 0-0

    Series: Boise State leads 4-3 (Boise State won last meeting 76-64 on Dec. 5, 2001)

    Notable: LCSC has averaged 104.8 ppg thus far, led by Utah State transfer E.J. Farris' 24.0.

— Following practice, Boise State men's basketball freshman Nick Duncan returns to the court and fires up 3-pointer after 3-pointer.

The newcomer from Australia does it in part to acclimate himself to the NCAA 3-point line, about a foot closer than the international line. He also knows the Broncos thrive on outside shooting, and they feel Duncan is another legitimate weapon.

"Try to make 150 or 200, something like that,'' Duncan said. "I've got to take those extra reps, try to get better. I want to play this year.''

Coach Leon Rice will sometimes stop and watch Duncan shoot from the sidelines.

"He's kind of a 6-8 Jeff Elorriaga,'' Rice said.

Comparing Duncan to the Broncos' sharp-shooting 6-2 senior, who made 44.7 percent of his 3s last season, sixth-best in the nation, is lofty.

"I love a guy that can shoot,'' Rice said. "He hasn't done anything, made a shot in a game yet, and I'm deeming him one of our better shooters.''

Duncan has done little to temper expectations. Over the summer at the U19 World Championships, he helped Australia finish fourth, averaging 9.8 points and 5.8 rebounds per game, hitting 55 percent of his 3-pointers. Aided by the presence of Aussie teammates Anthony Drmic and Igor Hadziomerovic, along with assistant coach John Rillie, Duncan has adapted quickly to the Broncos.

"He's definitely made himself at home,'' Drmic said.

Duncan said training is far more intense than he's used to, but said the Broncos' system fits him well. Though the Broncos have not yet determined who will redshirt, he is likely to play early off the bench.

"I guess there are some expectations and from the staff, but for me, it's just important to keep training hard, keep getting comfortable,'' Duncan said. "I hope we can meet our team expectations before I start thinking of mine.''

Rice has been intrigued by matchup possibilities with Duncan at forward, pairing him with senior Ryan Watkins at times. Last season, Watkins and Kenny Buckner played together, but Rice said the similarly-skilled pair caused some offensive deficiencies.

"Now we can stretch you at that position, too - that creates problems,'' Rice said. "Definitely, we could put a lineup with two out there and wouldn't suffer offensively.''

That doesn't mean Duncan can't get down and dirty like a typical forward - Rice calls him a "crafty rebounder,'' and at 240 pounds, the freshman is sturdy.

"He can shoot the 3, but you don't really think he will,'' Drmic said. "Screening, as well. You don't want to be on the other end of his screen.''

Growing up bigger than most opponents, the physical nature came first for Duncan before he worked outward to become a strong shooter. He still takes pride in using his physicality to free up teammates or snatch away loose balls.

"It comes from not wanting to lose - I hate losing,'' Duncan said. "Basketball, playing golf, even in class, I want to do well, be right up there near the top.''

BSU-Idaho tickets on sale today

Tickets for the Nov. 27 game in Downtown Boise can be purchased through the CenturyLink Arena box office, by calling (208) 331-8497 or by going online at centurylinkarenaboise.com.

The price levels are $17, $22, $30, $40, $55 and $70. The $55 and $70 prices are for courtside seats.

Dave Southorn: 377-6420;Twitter: @IDS_Southorn

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