Following a Jan. 5 win at Utah State, Boise State sophomore guard Chandler Hutchison looked at his slightly reddened forearms and was a little amazed.
“That never happens,” he said with a mile-wide smile.
Hutchison was right — his three dunks were the first in a game for the Broncos this season. For good measure, he added two in Saturday’s victory over Colorado State, including a beautiful baseline slam to end a coast-to-coast drive, capped off with him mean-mugging his bench, sending the resting Broncos into a tizzy.
“We’ve been waiting for that, and we always say it to him ... it’ll get people’s attention,” Boise State coach Leon Rice said.
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Dunks have made the Broncos even more watchable. It’s part of the growth for an athletic group, one that can continue to provide skillful shooting but also live by the mantra of “like the 3, love the rim.”
The Broncos had 17 dunks in their first 16 games last season, but already have 32 in as many games this season as they hit the road to face Nevada (10-6, 2-2) at 8 p.m. MT Wednesday hoping to tie a school record with 10 straight victories.
In the past two years, the Broncos have debuted Hutchison (just now realizing his athletic potential), junior forward James Webb III (Human Highlight Reel 3.0) and even Montigo Alford and Paris Austin (sub-6-foot guards). All are able to elevate for dunks.
That’s a far cry from a little more than a year ago, when Rice said before the 2014-15 season, there “will even maybe be some dunks,” hard-pressed to think of any the prior season.
“Who would’ve thought it?” Rice said. “I used to poo-poo it because we scored 116 points (Nov. 8, 2013) and didn’t have one. But there’s probably a value to showing the other team we have athletes and we’re going to attack the rim like that, and there’s nothing you can do about it once we do.”
At times last season, the team leaned on the 3-pointer a bit too much. This season, the Broncos have been more balanced. They’re making 34.7 percent of their 3-pointers after making 39.2 percent last season, but they’re shooting 57.3 percent on 2-point shots as opposed to 50.1 percent in 2014-15.
With the team’s ability to create space on offense, it has also opened up lanes for its athletes to get to the basket.
“It’s crazy the athleticism they have. You watch them in practice sometimes and it’s just not fair,” fifth-year senior guard/forward Anthony Drmic said. “The way they can get up and dunk the ball, it’s fun having those guys on your team. They can get to the rim at will and finish, so it’s fun to watch.”
Though it isn’t Phi Slamma Jamma, the original Dunk City (Florida Gulf Coast) or new Dunk City (Wyoming), it’s another addition to the Broncos’ reportoire. There’s even been alley-oops, including one to Hutchison on Saturday from Austin. Rice said by his count, the team was 0-for-17 on such attempts last season.
“It hasn’t been a big priority, but those are big plays sometimes,’’ Rice said. “I think our guys are getting better at it. We want them to attack the rim, and that’s a good way to do it.’’
Boise State men (12-4, 3-0) at Nevada (10-6, 2-2)
- When: 8 p.m. Wednesday
- Where: Lawlor Events Center (11,536), Reno
- TV: None (streamed online at theMW.com)
- Radio: 670 AM/93.1 FM
Boise State women (8-6, 1-2) host Nevada (2-13, 1-3)
- When: 7 p.m. Wednesday
- Where: Taco Bell Arena
- Radio: 1350 AM
- Tickets: $6 (adults), $3 (seniors/youth)
- Notes: Boise State sophomore forward Shalen Shaw leads the Mountain West in rebounding in league games (12.3 rpg). ... The Broncos are No. 1 in the Mountain West in field goal percentage (43.2), 3-point shooting (33.1) and free-throw shooting (76.1, 12th nationally). ... Nevada is 10th in the Mountain West in scoring (56.2 ppg) and field goal defense (44 percent).