BroncoSports.com will feature Thomas Bropleh, Jeff Elorriaga and Ryan Watkins this week
A dead-eye marksman by nature, Jeff Elorriaga proved over the course of his career that he meant much more to the Broncos than just a player with an exceptional outside shot. Elorriaga fought through injuries at different stages of every season to make sure his presence and leadership was available for his team to draw from. Boise State is 54-29 in games he starts, 20-13 in games he came off the bench, and 3-12 in games when he did not play.
Judging by the number of rebounds Ryan Watkins gobbled up this past season, most Bronco fans probably would not be surprised to see Watkins walking around campus with a hard hat and lunch pail. Watkins turned in one of the most prolific rebounding seasons in Boise State history by averaging 10.6 rebounds per game. Couple that with a steady 11.9 points per game, and you have the first Bronco to average a double-double since 1971-1972.
For three years you knew the name, but maybe couldn't put a finger on his game. After moving in and out of the starting lineup during his first three seasons, Thomas Bropleh found his calling as a senior. A refined three-point stroke and an irreplaceable dose of senior leadership turned Bropleh into one of the best sparkplugs in the West.
The video series begins with an overview of the 2014 seniors by the three Bronco coaches who were with them all four years. Head coach Leon Rice, associate head coach Jeff Linder and assistant coach John Rillie share their thoughts in the video below.
Boise State men's basketball participated in a press conference and an open practice at the NCAA Tournament First Round.
Boise State fell in the semifinals of the MW Championship March 13, 2015, against Wyoming.
Linder, with 15 years of collegiate coaching experience, is responsible for the development of the Broncos' point guards and offensive game plans.
He has helped lead Boise State to NCAA Tournament appearances in 2012-13 and 2014-15, the first at-large selections in school history. He also helped lead the Broncos to the 2014-15 Mountain West Championship, the school’s first conference title since joining the league in 2011-12.
Boise State tied the school record for wins in 2014-15, posting a 25-9 record which included winning of 14 of the final 15 regular-season games. The Broncos have won 20-or-more games in four of Linder’s five seasons, including each of the last three – tied for the longest streak in school history (1986-87, 1987-88 and 1988-89).
The Broncos have boasted a prolific offense during Linder’s time at Boise State, leading their conference in scoring in three of his five seasons and finishing second in 2014-15 (72.1). The Broncos averaged 76.2 points per game in 2013-14, the second-highest season average at Boise State in nearly 40 years.
Much of Boise State's scoring has come from the outside. The Broncos made a school-record 297 three-pointers in 2014-15. The team made 264 in 2013-14 and 249 in 2012-13, the third- and fifth-highest single-season totals all-time at Boise State.
Boise State also made its mark on the defensive end last season, holding a school-record nine opponents to fewer than 50 points. Included were five of the last 10 teams to face Boise State, which concluded the regular season allowing just 60.3 points per game. The mark ranked 35th nationally entering the NCAA Tournament, and helped provide a scoring margin of plus-10.5, the nation’s 22nd-best mark.
During its NCAA Tournament run two years ago, Boise State finished tied for fourth in the Mountain West, the top-rated league in the country per the RPI.
In his first year with the Broncos, Linder helped Rice steer Boise State to one of its most successful seasons in school history, one that culminated in an appearance in the conference tournament championship game and just the fourth postseason appearance in the last 17 years.
Boise State went 22-13 (.629) in 2010-11 and reached both the conference tournament championship game and the semifinals of the College Basketball Invitational. The 22 victories that season were tied for the fifth-most in school history, and signified the fifth-largest turnaround in school history.
In 2011-12 Linder helped guide the Broncos' move to the MW, which finished the season ranked fifth in the NCAA conference RPI - ahead of the ACC and Pac-12.
Linder joined the Boise State coaching staff after working at San Francisco under head coach Rex Walters from 2008-10. He was promoted to associate head coach prior to the start of the 2009-10 season.
In 2009-10 the Dons posted a 12-18 record, including a 9-4 record at home. USF was able to record a memorable highlight on Jan. 30, as the Dons knocked off No. 8 Gonzaga in an 81-77 overtime thriller, which snapped the Bulldogs' West Coast Conference regular-season winning streak of 27 games.
Prior to joining USF, Linder spent two seasons as part of Randy Rahe's staff at Weber State. During his stint Linder helped the Wildcats to a 36-26 overall record, and in 2006-07 the Wildcats won the Big Sky Conference regular season and tournament titles and earned a trip to the NCAA Tournament. Linder also recruited Damian Lillard to Weber State, who was selected sixth-overall by the Portland Trail Blazers in the 2012 NBA Draft.
Linder got his start in collegiate coaching as the assistant director of men's basketball operations at Colorado under head coach Ricardo Patton. After one season at CU, Linder was hired as an assistant coach on David Moe's staff at Emporia State, where he spent three seasons. Emporia State went 22-5 during his final campaign and earned a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Division II Tournament.
Linder moved from Emporia State to Midland Junior College in Midland, Texas, where he spent two seasons as an assistant coach to Grant McCasland. Linder helped coach Midland to a 53-16 record during his tenure, and in 2005-06 the team finished 26-10 and made an appearance in the "Elite Eight" at the national junior college tournament.
He played his high school basketball at Centaurus HS in Lafayette, Colo., and went on to play one season at Mesa State. After his freshman year, Linder transferred to Western State where he played three seasons under coach Bob Hofman. At Western State, Linder earned All-Rocky Mountain Conference honors, both on the court and in the classroom, three times.
Linder and his wife, Kelli, have three kids: a daughter, Adison, and two sons, Jordan and Devon.
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