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.
Jeff Linder is in his fifth season at Boise State University, and his second as the Broncos' associate head coach. He was promoted to the position after spending his first three seasons as an assistant.
Linder, who enters 2014-15 with 14 years of collegiate coaching experience, is responsible for the development of the Broncos' point guards and offensive game plans.
He helped lead Boise State to the NCAA Tournament in 2013, the first at-large selection in school history. Boise State went 21-11 in 2012-13 and followed that with a 21-13 campaign in 2013-14, giving the Broncos three 20-win seasons in four years. The 21 victories are the fourth-most wins during the regular season in school history.
The Broncos finished tied for fourth in the Mountain West in 2012-13, the top-rated league in the country per the RPI.
Boise State has led its conference in scoring three out of the four years Linder has been on staff, including pacing the Mountain West each of the past two seasons. The Broncos averaged 76.2 points per game in 2013-14, the second-highest season average at Boise State in the last 38 years.
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 are 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.