Throughout its first twelve games, the Boise State Broncos men’s basketball team has had its share of drama, commanding wins and reality checks.
Despite a beat down coming from SMU, Boise fought hard against some of the big name schools. Earlier in the season, they fell to Iowa State in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off championship 75-64. Lexus Williams’ half-court buzzer-beater lifted the Broncos over Oregon and ended a forty-six home game winning streak.
They aren’t the favorite to win the Mountain West, but they have the weapons to make a run for the conference title.
Hutchison makes waves
Fans of Boise State and the Mountain West knew that when Mission Viejo native Chandler Hutchison announced he was returning for his senior season at Boise State, he would be dangerous.
So far Hutchison leads the team in points per game (15.5), assists per game (4.1) and rebounds per game (8.5). Although last year he averaged 17.4 points per game, he has improved in both assists and rebounds. Not only has he shown he can do things with the ball, his off the ball movement has created space for his team-mates to get open shots.
Hutchison’s overall improvement will continue to catch the eyes of NBA scouts, but his effort to improve the team as a whole should send good signals to teams.
Under Hutchison’s leadership, the Broncos are more than capable of going for the Mountain West tournament title – a feat they haven’t done in program history.
Sophomores pitch in
Hutchison will graduate after this year. No more is it “If” he will leave. Because of this, the question is who will rise this year and become the Broncos' main man for years to come. In this season so far, the Broncos might not have a lone player lead the way, but rather players who are ready to step into the light.
Alex Hobbs and Justinian Jessup have taken larger roles in the team this year. Hobbs, who averaged 12.7 minutes per game in the 2016/17 season, now usually is on the floor for 28.0 minutes. He has also improved his scoring from 4.5 points per game to 10.6.
Jessup hasn’t had a big increase in minutes as Hobbs, but he has doubled his scoring average. The Colorado native averaged 7.4 points per game last season and now boasts 15.2 points per game.
The contributions coming from the two sophomores not only set them up for success over the next few years but also this year as the Broncos have been tabbed as a top three team in the conference.
Paris, we have a problem
Paris Austin was the team’s second-highest scorer last season, doing this while coming off of the bench for the majority of the season. After Austin announced he was transferring to the University of California, the biggest concern was who will be able to provide points off the bench.
Hobbs and Jessup have traded starts this year, and among the two whoever is on the bench is usually the highest scorer coming from the sideline. Besides them, Marcus Dickinson is the next highest scoring bench player, with an average of 5.8 points per game.
This is a concern for Boise as they currently stand tied for 122nd in total points per game, which is the seventh-best in the Mountain West. The upside for Boise is that their defense has been good so far. Giving up an average of 64.5 points, that puts them at 35th in the country and first in the Mountain West.
For the Broncos to succeed in conference play, their bench will have to step up. Their first test will be this Wednesday as they host Colorado State. If history tells us anything, this game will be a classic.