Boise State basketball player David Wacker is a grinder down low who fights for offensive rebounds, slams home putbacks and helps lead the defense with strong communication skills.
Zach Haney is a rebounder with solid footwork in the paint who brings the added threat of 3-point shooting.
When the two sophomores from Texas are on the floor together, like they were at times against Nevada on Wednesday, it presents a matchup problem for opposing teams.
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“It puts tremendous pressure on the other team,” Wacker said. “I hope it’s going to be something for the future.”
The Broncos (17-9, 10-5 Mountain West) hope that’s the case Saturday, when they take on San Jose State (14-12, 7-8) at 2 p.m. in Taco Bell Arena.
Wacker and Haney are a big part of Boise State’s three-headed monster in the post, along with fellow sophomore Robin Jorch. Wacker is 6-foot-10 and averages 5.5 points, 4.7 rebounds and 18 minutes a game. At 6-11, Haney averages 5.6 points, 4.0 rebounds in 14.9 minutes.
Wacker and Haney also have 23 of Boise State’s 56 blocked shots.
Wacker considers the surplus of big men an asset rather than an issue.
“It feels really great to be able to have guys like that, because we have quality, really, really good big guys at our disposal as a team (off the bench),” Wacker said. “We all embrace that. Coach (Leon) Rice has likened it to a three-headed dog, where we’re just going to keep coming at you.”
Wacker and Haney battle each other for playing time. They’re also fighting individual battles.
Wacker’s issue has been his left foot, the same one he broke in December 2015. He’s been working through a stress reaction since the start of Mountain West play, making it nearly impossible for him to run or jump at times. Wacker missed most of the San Diego State game and didn’t suit up at Fresno State.
“I try not to think about it too much because I know that there’s not really much I can do to heal it or fix it naturally,” Wacker said.
Haney has seen his playing time decrease in recent weeks. Prior to Wednesday’s game at Nevada, Haney played a total of two minutes in the three previous games.
“With three guys, you have to play a guessing game a little bit,” Rice said. “Our practices mean something. And you have to get better and keep working, and that’s what we want to see Zach doing.”
Said Haney: “I don’t really know (why I haven’t played). Nobody really likes not playing, but I just try to do what’s best for the team.”
The duo appears to be getting better.
Wacker is averaging 8.8 points and 5.4 rebounds over his past five games and notched double figures in scoring in consecutive games against Utah State, Air Force and New Mexico. He said the combination of an evolving offense and being more active on the offensive rebounds has led to his increased production.
“I know that getting offensive rebounds is an easy way for me to get more easy buckets,” Wacker said. “I just do all the little things that I can.”
Haney took advantage of early opportunities against Nevada to score eight first-half points and 13 overall. He attempted shots on each of his first three touches and hit a 3-pointer.
“He did a great job in practice the last couple of days showing his effort,” Rice said.
San Jose State at Boise State
- When: 2 p.m. Saturday
- Where: Taco Bell Arena (12,480), Boise
- Records: Boise State (17-9, 10-5 MW); San Jose State (14-12, 7-8)
- Broadcast: Mountain West Network, BroncoSports.com/videos
- Radio: KBOI 670 AM (Bob Behler, Abe Jackson), also available at broncosports.com
- Vegas line: Boise State favored by 11 points
- Tickets: $10 (adults), $9 (seniors) and $8 (juniors) at the Taco Bell Arena box office and broncosports.com/tickets.
- Boise State women: Broncos (19-7, 9-6 MW) at San Jose State (10-17, 7-8), 3 p.m. Saturday (KTIK 1350 AM)