Durable Drmic driving Broncos in season's final stretch

dsouthorn@idahostatesman.comMarch 15, 2014 

— When you can lead the team in scoring and make the winning plays that won't be in a box score, that's a pretty great game. When it's done on an injured foot and after taking a knee to the ribcage, it's even better.

That's what Boise State junior Anthony Drmic did during the Broncos' 75-62 win Thursday over Nevada in the Mountain West Tournament quarterfinals at the Thomas & Mack Center.

Drmic had 17 points and three steals in 33 minutes, missing a few minutes after taking a charge and at times visibly wincing in pain as he went up and down the court on a foot with a stress fracture he's played on for two months. Coach Leon Rice tried to push Drmic, who has sparsely practiced since mid-January, with a little humor.

"I said, 'This is where the injuries help you,' " Rice said. " 'You've been on the bike the last month and a half; you're fresh.' "

The Broncos' leading scorer for the third straight season with 16.3 points per game, Drmic has missed only three of Boise State's 95 games the past three seasons. He said his foot doesn't tend to bother him much during games, but the residual effect of limiting practice is the toughest part.

"It's hurt that I haven't been able to practice as much, to be out there with the team, to build more chemistry, more team cohesiveness," Drmic said. "But I've tried my best to stay together with the team, to give it my all in the games."

Tied 32-32 at the half with Nevada, the Broncos held the Wolf Pack to 27.6 shooting in the second half. Rice said, "Anthony really sparked us in the second half with his defensive effort."

Drmic certainly did that, taking the charge with 12:13 to play, and getting all three steals in the second half, two of which led to 3-pointers. He drew a foul with 2:03 left and up six after a missed Igor Hadziomerovic free throw, chasing down a rebound with Nevada's Cole Huff. Drmic hit both of his free throws.

"He saved me on the charge," senior Jeff Elorriaga said. "It was big, lead by example. When he came back on (the floor), I was surprised. … He made a lot of great plays that may not be seen on the score sheet."

GOTTA CATCH 'EM ALL

Senior forward Ryan Watkins moved into second place on the all-time rebounding list at Boise State on Friday, and like Ash Ketchum, Watkins vies with monsters to become the best.

Ash Ketchum is the hero in Pokemon, the wildly popular Japanese cartoon/video game/playing card series, who tries to capture and train as many "pocket monsters" as he can.

Watkins' Twitter profile says, "On a quest to be the greatest Pokemon trainer to ever live." He often sports a Pokemon backpack. When the team went to an informal dinner after arriving in Las Vegas, the 6-foot-9 rebounding machine was sporting a Pokemon T-shirt.

"Since I was young, I always played it. … I'm still playing it now. I'll probably be playing when I'm 50," Watkins said.

And for the record: His favorite Pokemon is Charmander.

FREE THROW SUCCESS

Boise State missed its last four free throws in an 83-81, double-overtime loss to Nevada on March 5, and finished the game 16-for-24. On Thursday, the Broncos made 28-of-35, including 14 of their last 17 in the last 2:30, stretching a four-point lead into the 13-point win.

Dave Southorn: 377-6420, Twitter: @IDS_Southorn

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