One of the themes for the Boise State Broncos (11-14, 6-6) men’s basketball team has been an inability to finish off close games. A lucky bounce here, better shooting there, and six losses by a combined 11 points could have easily turned into victories.
A 17-8, 8-4 record would look a lot better as the team heads into the homestretch.
Instead, Boise State is battling their way through a 6-6 record in conference play. Sitting in sixth place with six games to play, the Broncos have seen better days in seasons past.
Disappointing as it may sound, a brighter future is ahead. Zach Haney and David Wacker are the only seniors on the team. A core group — Justinian Jessup, Alex Hobbs, and Marcus Dickinson — will be grizzled seniors by this time next season. And sophomore Derrick Alston, well, I believe we’ve only seen the beginning of what he’s capable of.
First, however, is a hope of putting everything together and finishing out this season in a manner that builds momentum heading into next year.
2018-19 in a nutshell
Stretches of cold-shooting and stagnant offense have plagued the Broncos throughout the season. The bug bit Boise State again in a 65-63 loss at Fresno State Wednesday night. Scoring only four buckets in a span of 11 minutes doesn’t help nor does going 3-17 from beyond the arc.
The Bulldogs do have one of the more stingy defenses in the Mountain West but the Broncos had their chances, including a good look from Hobbs at the end of the game. Such has been the case for Boise State in the department of missed opportunities, including a last-second loss to Nevada at home.
Playing only eight or nine players a game, fatigue has taken its toll at times, evident in some of the woes from distance. Even with the short bench, however, the Broncos have had one of the better defenses in Mountain West play. Outside of a two-game stretch in which they allowed 93 points (at Nevada) and 83 points (vs. UNLV), the Broncos have been stout. In ten other Mountain West games, Boise State has held opponents under 70 points eight times.
Putting all aspects together — in which we’ve seen turnovers go down and scoring go up, for the most part — gives Boise State a chance to finish strong. Even if they end up in the sixth spot — with only the top five teams earning byes — they would open the Mountain West tournament against San Jose State. Take nothing for granted, of course, but a matchup against the Spartans would give the Broncos a good shot to win their first conference tourney game since a victory over Air Force in 2015.
The play of Alex Hobbs
In any other season, Hobbs would be in strong contention for Mountain West Player of the Year honors. It’s too bad the Martin twins (Cody and Caleb) and Jordan Caroline from Nevada and Justin James are just a few standing in Hobbs’ way.
The junior and reigning sixth-man-of-the-year is still having an outstanding season. After battling injuries through the early games of non-conference play and finding his footing, Hobbs has turned it up a notch. He’s averaging 16.4 points per game in conference and 4.3 rebounds. Hobbs has found a nice balance between driving to the hoop and launching threes, shooting over 50 percent from the field in all but three conference games. He’s also scored between 13 and 21 points in 11 of 12 conference contests.
Hobbs has a steal in six straight games, including three in the loss at Fresno State.
Overall, he is second on the team with 12.7 points (Jessup averages 12.9). Hobbs is shooting 48.6 percent from the field and 91.3 percent from the free throw line.
Boise State is back on the court Saturday at San Diego State. The game starts at 5 pm (MT) and can be seen on the CBS Sports Network.