No one inside the Boise State men’s basketball program is willing to divulge specifics on the Broncos’ rebounding drills during practice.
Whatever the Broncos are up to, it’s working.
Boise State ranks seventh in the nation this season with an average of 30.29 defensive rebounds per game. The Broncos’ rebounding margin of plus-8.3 ranks 22nd out of 351 Division I programs.
“You get good at what you emphasize and what you work at,” Boise State coach Leon Rice said. “It’s important to us, and it’s what we do. We have a whole system in place for how we do it.”
Boise State (12-2, 2-0), which is tied for first in the Mountain West standings with Nevada, continues conference play against New Mexico (6-9, 1-1) at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Taco Bell Arena.
“We know New Mexico is a good team. We’re not going to sleep on anybody,” Boise State junior Zach Haney said. “Everybody is coming to win the ball games. They’re coming in here to beat us, and we want to beat them.”
Rice said the details of his rebounding system are “top secret,” but the results were on full display last Saturday at UNLV, and they represent marked improvement. Last season, BSU ranked 113th in the nation in defensive rebounding.
The Broncos outrebounded the Rebels 48-29 despite facing the duo of 7-foot freshman Brandon McCoy and 6-7 junior Shakur Juiston. McCoy is tied for 10th in the nation with 10.9 rebounds per game and Juiston is 12th at 10.7. It was the first time this season that the Rebels had been outrebounded by double digits, and it gave the Broncos a chance to leap-frog the Rebels in the rankings. UNLV currently sits sixth in defensive rebounding average at 30.36.
All nine players who got in the game against UNLV recorded at least one rebound. Senior Chandler Hutchison led the way with 12 and Haney had 11. But even the Broncos’ smallest players — point guards Lexus Williams and Marcus Dickinson — are getting their hands on some boards, too.
“Our rebounding is a weapon we have,” Hutchison said. “We’re not the biggest team down low, but we’ve got guys that fight and do their job.”
BSU women at New Mexico
The Broncos and Lobos are the only teams unbeaten in Mountain West play, which means Wednesday’s 7 p.m. Mountain time game in Albuquerque, N.M., will be a showdown for first place.
Boise State’s early conference schedule is a difficult one, as the conference favorites take on the four teams directly below them in the preseason media poll and the only other teams to receive first-place votes. The Broncos (8-5, 2-0) already have wins over No. 3 Colorado State and No. 5 UNLV, and they host No. 2 Wyoming on Saturday.
New Mexico (14-1, 2-0), which was picked to finish fourth, is averaging a league-leading 85.5 points per game.
“They’re the bar in terms of athleticism and quickness,” Boise State coach Gordy Presnell said of the Lobos. “If we can handle their athleticism and quickness, we know that we’ll be able to handle it with the rest of the league.”
Broncos sweep weekly awards
The Boise State men’s and women’s basketball teams swept the Mountain West Conference’s player of the week awards, which were announced Tuesday.
Sophomore guard Riley Lupfer set personal milestones with 28 points, nine field goals and seven 3-pointers in the Boise State women’s 69-60 victory over UNLV on Dec. 30. She also hit a pair of key 3-pointers in the fourth quarter of the Broncos’ 62-58 win at Colorado State. Overall, Lupfer averaged 19.5 points and shot 50.0 percent from 3-point range (10-for-20) over the two victories.
Senior guard Chandler Hutchison led the men to a pair of victories with a combined 56 points and 15 rebounds. He tallied a season-high 32 points to go with 12 rebounds in a win at UNLV and had 24 points in 23 minutes against Colorado State.