Boise State's first campaign as a member of the Mountain West was a bumpy ride, as the Broncos didn't have the talent or experience to be a factor in such a tough conference.
The Broncos occasionally put up tough fights but also were prone to murky stretches of inefficient play. They finished in a tie for seventh and last place with Air Force.
Two of the best efforts put up by Boise State (13-17, 3-11 MWC) came against powerful San Diego State, and another solid one came in an overtime loss to ultra-talented UNLV. The Broncos lost in the first round of the postseason conference tournament on March 8 when San Diego State's Jamaal Franklin made a last-second 3-pointer to hand Boise State a 65-62 loss.
The heartbreaking ending was another sign to Broncos coach Leon Rice that the program is on the right path. He maintains he saw progress throughout a season in which Boise State was often outmatched in the talent department.
"It's just the level of competition," Rice said, "but it makes these guys better. It's tough to go through. It's tough to lose these games. We made some mistakes that freshmen are going to make down the stretch of that game.
"You're able to break that down in the offseason, and they are mistakes we'll minimize down the road. These guys will get better at stuff like that."
It's going to be tough for Boise State to make a significant rise next season as the majority of the league's better teams return many key players. However, the Broncos have proved they will battle hard.
"We've got a lot of experience throughout the year with a lot of freshmen playing," freshman wing Anthony Drmic said. "We're going to be back next year. Just play harder, play more together and hopefully get more wins next year."
• The Broncos used 15 starting lineups, and all 12 players on the roster started at least two games. That shows how little separation there is between players in the program but also displays how badly Boise State misses having a bona fide go-to player.
• Boise State went 1-11 on the road, and eight of the losses were by double digits. The Broncos had several dismals outings that displayed how overmatched the young team was when playing in unfamiliar environments. The lone road victory came against Air Force.
Final Record: 13-17, 3-11, tied for seventh place in Mountain West.
2010-11 Season Recap: Boise State parlayed an extremely soft, home-loaded schedule into an 8-1 start before reality sunk in. Leading scorer Anthony Drmic looked solid over the first half of the season but hit just 19 percent of his 3-point attempts in Mountain West play. Drmic also was the team's leading rebounder (5.0 per game), as the Broncos didn't have any big men who rebounded with consistency. Boise State's most memorable moment was when freshman Derrick Marks drove the length of the court in the final seconds to score the game-winning basket against Colorado State.
Quote To Note: "There's no question the competition in this league is amazing, but there's no question that it's really helping our program." - Boise State coach Leon Rice.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
The Good News: The Broncos return eight of their top nine scorers, so the inexperience referred to often by coach Leon Rice won't be available as an excuse next season. Going through a season of tenacious games in the Mountain West helped some of the youngsters mature. Rice now has a team full of his recruits, so an upswing in production and victories could be on the horizon. Boise State opened a 10,000-square-foot basketball complex last August with expanded locker rooms and film rooms as the program took a much-needed step in improving its below-par facilities.
The Bad News: Boise State will be in the Mountain West against next season, so conference victories will still be tough to notch. Worse is the Broncos don't have any idea what conference they will be part of following next season, which hinders recruiting and selling a future vision of the program. The Broncos have traditionally struggled to draw high-caliber recruits, and the uncertainty doesn't help matter. The loss of senior guards Westly Perryman and Tre Nichols is a depth hit due to their modest production.
Key Returnees: Anthony Drmic averaged a team-leading 12.0 points and is capable of averaging more if he improves his outside shooting. Five other players who started 11 or more games are also back, including guards Derrick Marks and Jeff Elorriaga, post players Kenny Buckner and Ryan Watkins and forward Thomas Bropleh.
• Freshman F Anthony Drmic received honorable mention in All-Mountain West balloting. He scored 348 points this season, second most ever by a Boise State freshman.
• Freshman G Derrick Marks had a strong second half to earn All-Mountain West honorable mention. He ranked second on the squad in scoring at 9.4 points per game.
• Junior C Kenny Buckner shot 60.3 percent from the field this season after transferring from the junior-college ranks. He averaged 8.4 points and 4.6 rebounds per game.