A week ago, Boise State mens basketball coach Leon Rice said he needed to trust his bench more as he sought to end the Broncos late-game woes.
If the two games since he said that are any indication, Rice will continue to have plenty of options in the last four weeks of the season.
On Feb. 8 at Utah State, the Broncos used 10 players in the first 10 minutes, then used 11 during Wednesdays 71-70 home win over New Mexico.
Ive been trying to develop this bench, and Ive seen progress with it, Rice said. Its helping us, and its going to help us down the stretch.
Following a few of the Broncos close losses, Rice noted that his starters had logged perhaps a few too many minutes, leading to late-game fatigue and therefore late-game errors.
Boise State, which is now 2-5 in games decided by six points or less in Mountain West play, has used only two players for more than 31 minutes the past two games. Three Broncos are averaging more than 31 minutes per game in league play.
I think its going to be really important for us, junior guard Joe Hanstad said. I cant imagine how many minutes guys like Derrick (Marks) have played. I know those guys say they wont get tired, but we play hard, and all those minutes will wear on you.
The increased usage of the bench has given a boost to some, like Hanstad, who has logged 10 minutes the past two games after totaling four minutes since Dec. 5, and junior Jake Ness, who has combined for six minutes against Utah State and New Mexico, coming in with five minutes since Dec. 5.
These guys have done an unbelievable job of trying to show up every day, helping the team, Rice said. Its a credit to them and their character, and now theyre getting an opportunity.
As senior Jeff Elorriaga has battled a broken bone in his back, the bench has helped pick up the slack in the backcourt, and should give the Broncos even more options should he be able to return for extended minutes.
Thomas Bropleh has averaged 27.2 minutes and 11.0 points per game the past five games. And in 11 minutes against New Mexico, freshman Dezmyn Trent had seven points and four rebounds, both his best since the second game of the season, Nov. 8.
Somebodys going to sleep on Dez in one of these games and youre going to look up and hes going to have a big game for us, Rice said.
The Bronco who has logged the most minutes, Anthony Drmic (801), naturally would like to play as much as possible, but welcomes the increased rotation.
We trust anyone that is on the floor for us, Drmic said. The more guys we get involved, I think thats going to be a big help for everybody.
Dave Southorn: 377-6420, Twitter: @IDS_southorn