Boise State's Elorriaga expands his horizons on offense

dsouthorn@idahostatesman.comNovember 23, 2013 

— Boise State's Jeff Elorriaga has been so good at making the extraordinary look ordinary that the ordinary has, in turn, become extraordinary.

The Broncos' single-game record-holder for 3-pointers in a game (10) made 84 last season. He made only 15 2-point baskets.

In each of the two games he's played this season, Elorriaga has made a pair of 2-point shots, in addition to his team-best 12 3-pointers.

"He's really worked his game to be balanced. He's not just a 3-point shooter, not just a zone buster," Boise State coach Leon Rice said.

All of last season, Elorriaga never had more than two 2-point field goals in a game, and only had two on two occasions. Elorriaga has kept a sense of humor about that odd stat - after he made a pair in his first game of the season, Nov. 15 against Simpson, Elorriaga remarked, "Rare, I know."

Still, the desire to expand his game is notable as the 3-0 Broncos visit New Orleans on Saturday (10 a.m., ESPN3 and 670 AM).

"I admit it's a little weird making a shot and seeing only two go on the board," Elorriaga said with a laugh.

Elorriaga noted he looked at Anthony Drmic's ascent into the Mountain West's top scorer last season for inspiration.

As a freshman, 61.8 percent of the shots Drmic took were 3-pointers. Last season, that number was cut to 51.1 percent, and with it, his field goal percentage jumped from 38.1 percent to 46.4 percent.

"You see how tough he is to guard now, but how he can still shoot the long ball and you can't help but notice," Elorriaga said. "For me, I know people are going to focus on the 3, so if I can pump fake it, get them off the floor, I can draw a foul, get an open look or have the lane right there to drive on."

Even with his newfound versatility, Elorriaga is still as deadly as ever, making 12-of-19 3-pointers (63.2 percent). His 44.7 percent clip last season was sixth in the nation.

The balance hasn't gone unnoticed.

"Well, he's making a lot of 3s, but he's made a couple layups as well," Drmic said.

Don't expect Elorriaga to go flying into the opposing defense as often as his Australian friend, however.

On Monday, Rice said, "given the choice, I don't want him running off that 3-point line."

He did appreciate that any shot Elorriaga took in his first game back after missing Nov. 8's opener was the right one, no matter the distance. Elorriaga was 9-of-10 from the field (7-of-8 on 3-pointers) for 26 points in 12 minutes Nov. 15 against Simpson.

"We played without him, and we played pretty well without him," Rice said. "I was like, 'Gosh, are these other guys catching up to him?' … And then boom, you put him in the lineup and he does that.

"That was about the most efficient offensive 12 minutes I've ever seen in my life."

With Elorriaga feeling strong about shooting from all over the floor, that's a dangerous proposition for opponents.

"I'm shooting with confidence, taking shots from places I may have been hesitant about last year," he said. "I'm feeling good, knowing those ones I for some reason wasn't taking are going in."

Dave Southorn: 377-6420; Twitter: @IDS_Southorn

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