Boise State's Magic 8-Ball: "Outlook Good"

USA TODAY Sports

Why the Boise State Broncos will be a major contender in 2013-2014.

After finishing an impressive 21-10 in the 2012-2013 campaign, the Boise State Broncos have a lot to be proud of. They ran a successful non-conference schedule by going 12-2 (only losses coming at Michigan State, but by just 4 points; and an unexplainable 21-point beat-down at Utah), and started the conference push by going in to Wyoming and taking down the Cowboys with a buzzer beater to end their undefeated start (at the time, Wyoming was receiving votes in the AP poll, and ranked 25th in the Coaches’ Poll).

While it wasn’t always perfect for the Broncos, there were silver linings: key wins at home against UNLV, Colorado State, and San Diego State are likely what garnered the attention of the bracketologists in March, that earned them a spot in the First Four play-in games (ending their season with a loss, to bring them to 21-11).

While it’s nice to look back and reminisce, we can also look to the future and build upon these successes.

The Broncos had just one senior on their roster last season in Kenny Bruckner, who saw action in 28 of those games, with 18.0 minutes per game, and just 3 starts. Otherwise, every other starter is back again this season: Ryan Watkins, Derrick Marks, Anthony Drmic, Jeff Elorriaga, and Igor Hadziomerovic.

Ryan Watkins: 8.4PPG, 6.8RPG, .609 FG%

Watkins was the team’s everyday man. His .609 field goal percentage went on to be the eighth-best in Boise State history; his 6.8 rebounds per game were good enough for eighth-best in the Mountain West Conference. His 5 double-doubles set the bar for the team, with 10 games scoring in double figures, and 7 games rebounding in double figures. Watch for Watkins to put up some pretty similar, if not better numbers in his senior season.

Derrick Marks: 16.3PPG, 3.9APG, .837 FT%

The Mountain West Conference awarded Marks Player of the Week honors three times last season. His 16.3 points per game were good enough for 2nd best on the team, and in the second half of the season in conference play, his 16.5 points per game was good enough for fourth in the Mountain West.

Anthony Drmic: 17.3PPG, 4.6RPG, 31.9MPG

Drmic has slotted himself nicely in to the workhorse role. Starting all 31 games as a sophomore, he averaged a team-highest 17.3 points per game, and got hotter as the season progressed into conference play: 18.8 points per game (2nd in the Mountain West) and 9 games with 20 points scored or more (best in the Mountain West).

One of Coach Leon Rice’s two Australian nationals, Drmic has shown he can dominate in this conference, and has made a solid impact on the Bronco program. Only once in his freshman year was he sidelined by an injury (missed 1 game with an ankle tweak), so if he can continue his trend of staying healthy, look for Drmic to progress his game even further next season.

Jeff Elorriaga: 10.3PPG, .451 3-PT FG%, 33.6MPG

While Elorriaga played in 28 of the Broncos’ 31 games last season (missing a few due to a concussion), he did start every one of them. His 10.3 points per game were good enough for 3rd best on the team, and his .451 3-point field goal percentage (82 for 182) ranked in the top 5 in the nation. It was Elorriaga who hit the aforementioned 3-point buzzer beater to knock off an undefeated Wyoming Cowboys team. It will be Elorriaga leading the team in perimeter shooting once again next season, to add to his already-impressive 3-year career totals of 149-356 (.419).

Igor Hadziomerovic: 5.4PPG, 3.0RPG

The other of Coach Leon Rice’s two Australian players, Igor Hadziomerovic has been a solid starter over the past season as a sophomore. His second year game total doubled that of his first, and even though a good portion of his freshman season was marred with a foot injury sustained in a pregame practice, he missed only a month, and was able to be a positive contribution post-injury. Scoring in double figures 4 times last year, look for Hadziomerovic to better improve his stats in the latter half of his college career.

Based on 5 returning starters, and only one senior lost, Boise State’s impressive run in a strong Mountain West Conference last season gives the Broncos hope for this coming season, where some of the usual leading teams (the likes of New Mexico, San Diego State, and UNLV) are not going to have the same advantage on their rosters.

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