This Bronco basketball team has been unable to field a complete team for any of its six Mountain West games this season. Coach Leon Rice has had players miss games for suspensions, injuries, and sickness. It has really hampered a team that went 12-2 in the non-conference part of the schedule.
Boise State has missed the services of junior guard Jeff Elorriaga for three road games - all losses. The Broncos have missed his outside shooting, his leadership, and his defense. It is not know exactly when he will return. We'll never know whether the conference record would be better than the 2-4 they currently have, but I would think so. This team was in a groove at 12-2 heading in to conference play. The starting lineup was set and so were the guys coming off the bench. Lately, the team hasn't even known who will be available for a game even as late as shootaround the day of the game, as Derrick Marks developed a case of the stomach flu around game time.
In covering football, you see players miss games all the time and teams seem to just plug someone in and you move on. Teams alter their lineups and game plans and while it may hurt some doesn't seem to be as crippling as an injury to one of five starters on a basketball team. Basketball is much more of an individual game where one guy can make a huge difference and we are seeing that without Elorriaga. With only 12 scholarships and usually one or two guys red-shirting, you are down to 10. Then there are usually a couple of guys who just aren't capable of contributing and you are down to eight. Now throw in an injury and you barely have enough guys to field a competitive team.
This was a very impressive season. Getting the team healthy again is more important than any strategy or improvement in an aspect of the game. There is still over half of the Mountain West season to go so the season is far from over. Unfortunately in this conference you can't show up with a depleted roster and expect to win a game.