Before the season even began, Anthony Drmic knew things would be different.
Boise State’s prolific senior had battled three seasons of cuts, bruises, battered backs and fractured feet. Offseason surgery to strengthen his chronically nagging left ankle wasn’t perfect, and he had some nerve damage that weakened his leg.
Drmic has shown flashes of his former self this season, but also has been kept scoreless in two of the past four games.
“He’s frustrated, but the injury is what it is,” Boise State coach Leon Rice said after the 56-53 loss to San Diego State on Saturday. “There isn’t anything that we can do about it, and there isn’t anything that he can do about it, so it’s hard to watch. It’s hard for him to play that way, and it’s really hard to see him not be as quick as he was.”
Rice once said he considers Drmic among the top three most competitive players he’s coached, alongside former Gonzaga stars Adam Morrison and Casey Calvary.
Not being quite as explosive as he once was, now in his fifth season, has been tough mentally as well. Prior to this season, only once in Drmic’s career (Dec. 10, 2011 at LSU) had he ever played a scoreless game.
“Still struggling day by day, but just doing what I can to help the team win. ... Leg still isn’t 100 percent, at least where I want it to be or where I feel it could be,” Drmic said after he had 13 points Jan. 9 in a win over Fresno State.
Even if his struggles are more noticeable, Drmic has shown to be plenty effective. His 12.9 points per game are his lowest since his freshman campaign, but he’s still on pace for the Boise State career scoring record. He is fourth with 1,748 points, 198 behind Tanoka Beard’s mark.
At Utah State on Jan. 5, Drmic did not score, but had nine rebounds and helped keep Aggies forward Chris Smith to only seven points.
“He can still bring a lot to this team. ... Peyton Manning’s probably at 50 percent (for the Denver Broncos), but he’s bringing a lot to the team and a lot of value, and they’re winning,” Rice said.
“Anthony’s been trying that, but he also deals with a lot of frustration, as any of us would, because it’s just not the way he pictured his senior year.”
Drmic took seven shots in the games he didn’t score against the Aztecs and Aggies, saying he doesn’t mind drawing attention on the perimeter as it allows guards like senior Mikey Thompson to drive the lane with less clutter.
Rice said Drmic has to “reinvent himself a little bit,” and as a veteran on a team with multiple scoring options that can use some grit, he doesn’t have to be the old Drmic.
Rice said he likely won’t give Drmic games off, as he did early in the season, saying it didn’t heal the injury much and forced Drmic to shake off some rust once he was back in games.
However, he remains hopeful the good days outweigh the bad and his star can go out the right way.
“We’re holding out hope he can make that kind of comeback,” Rice said. “We still have time.”
San Jose State (6-12, 1-5 Mountain west) at Boise State (13-5, 4-1)
- When: 7 p.m. Wednesday
- Where: Taco Bell Arena
- TV: None (live stream at TheMW.com or BroncoSports.com/ videos)
- Radio: KBOI 670 AM
- Tickets: $7-$18 juniors, $8-$19 seniors, $9-$20 adults at Taco Bell Arena box office or BroncoSports.com/ tickets