Boise State is not alone finding itself in foul trouble early this college basketball season.
In nearly every game, the Broncos have had to sit starters for the final few minutes of the first half when they have two fouls, or for prolonged second-half minutes when they have four.
Junior forward Nick Duncan fouled out with five minutes left in Sunday’s loss to No. 11 Arizona while the Broncos were mounting a comeback, and senior guard/forward Anthony Drmic was out for most of Michigan State’s run to turn a seven-point deficit Friday into a halftime lead. Junior forward James Webb III played only 17 minutes in the Broncos’ opener, a loss at Montana.
“That’s hurt us, big time. If you have those veterans, those elite players, and you lose them, there’s going to be a natural dropoff,” Boise State coach Leon Rice said.
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In Sunday’s Wooden Legacy championship, Providence guard Kris Dunn and Michigan State guard Denzel Valentine, two of the nation’s top players, were in foul trouble. Dunn played the last 4:11 with four fouls and Valentine played eight first-half minutes after two quick fouls.
“I just think we’re taking the flow of the game away,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said after the game. “Maybe it’ll change. We’ll play by the same rules everybody else does, but I think I can voice my opinion to say that I don’t agree with it.”
Duncan said a point of emphasis for the team will be to figure out what is and isn’t a foul, starting with Wednesday’s home game against Willamette.
The NCAA stated before the season it hopes tighter calls on perimeter defense and physical inside play would allow more movement for players without the ball. However, some have said it hasn’t been consistent.
“It feels to me like sometimes they only call it for perimeter players, and they have allowed the post play to become more like the NBA, which wasn’t anybody’s intention,” UC Irvine coach Russell Turner said after the Anteaters’ 71-64 loss to Boise State on Thursday.
If college basketball is headed toward the pro style, as it did in a way by reducing the shot clock from 35 to 30 seconds, Rice also hopes the rules can change so as not to take out those starters who pick up quick fouls.
“We can call more fouls, but let’s give guys six fouls like the NBA does,” Rice said. “I don’t think we’re any different than anyone else, but we have to keep adjusting.”
The Bearcats are 1-4, averaging 77 points per game, led by senior forward Brandon Luedtke’s 15.6 ppg and 9.8 rebounds per game. Luedtke is a Mountain View High graduate. ... Wednesday should give Boise State a chance to give work to its bench, a group Rice has challenged to step up: “I’m really eager; their development is crucial to this team,’’ he said.
Willamette (1-4) at Boise State (3-4)
▪ When: 7 p.m. Wednesday, Taco Bell Arena
▪ TV: None (stream at BroncoSports.com/videos); Radio: 670 KBOI AM
▪ Tickets: $7-$18 for juniors, $8-$19 for seniors, $9-$20 for adults at Taco Bell Arena box office, BroncoSports.com/tickets or via phone at 426-4737.