In reality, Boise States mens basketball team has six starters.
Of course, only five can be on the floor for the opening tip, but sophomore Mikey Thompson plays a role as large as any player whose name is called in pregame festivities.
Thompson has been a pain for opposing defenses, scoring 10.6 points while averaging 23.6 minutes a game. He has scored in double digits five times, including 13 points in Tuesdays 69-67 win over previously unbeaten Utah.
The only reason he doesnt start is because I like a guy coming off the bench that can change the game when he can score and change the tempo of the game, and hes been great about that, coach Leon Rice said.
With Boise State (7-0) being the only NCAA Tournament team returning all five starters, many have the Broncos penciled in to return to the Big Dance. The team knows if that is going to happen, or if it wants its first-ever tournament win, its the bench that will get the Broncos there.
Boise State was 2-14 prior to Fridays game against Portland State when junior Anthony Drmic failed to reach double digits. He only had nine points against the Vikings, but Boise State won 76-60.
Its just the improvement of our bench I think our depth this year is a lot better, Drmic said. Mostly, its just guys having confidence. Its being able to sub in without any letdown.
On Tuesday, with junior Derrick Marks on the bench with four fouls, Thompson had seven points in the 12-plus minutes Marks was out, while senior Thomas Bropleh had three assists in that span.
I thought Thomas did a nice job coming off the bench and guarded really well, Rice said.
As the Broncos have received a spark from a senior off the bench, freshman Nick Duncan has played 15.4 minutes per game, and is third on the team with nine 3-pointers. He hit two in the first half Tuesday against Utah.
Those bench players, which Rice said will become more and more important as the grind of the season continues, should get plenty of time Thursday against NAIA Carroll College before the Broncos huge road trip to No. 3 Kentucky on Tuesday.
Youve got a lot of guys we need to get experience, which will pay off in January if we can get them some minutes here, Rice said last month about playing NAIA teams.
Dave Southorn: 377-6420, Twitter: @IDS_southorn