Boise State’s leading scorer is crafty, quick and just as good without the ball in his hands

·4 min read

Redshirt senior Marcus Shaver Jr. has scored in double figures in 14 of Boise State’s 15 games this season.

He leads the team at 14.3 points per game and has finished as the team’s top scorer in six games, which is the most of any Bronco.

Shaver and the Broncos enter Tuesday’s Mountain West men’s basketball matchup against Air Force on a nine-game winning streak. Tipoff is 7 p.m. at ExtraMile Arena, and the game will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network.

There’s no doubt Shaver can shoot it, but there’s more to his game than meets the eye. Just watch him when the ball isn’t in his hands.

“It’s all connected,” Boise State coach Leon Rice said. “It’s the players getting him the ball, it’s the guys setting him screens, it’s the guys knowing when he’s gonna be open and then it’s him being comfortable knowing where that shot’s coming from. I think that’s what we’re getting more and more comfortable with as we go forward.”

Shaver is an expert at creating his own shot, whether it’s on a slashing drive to the hoop or faking a move inside and then pulling up for a jumper.

While he happens to be the shortest player on the Broncos’ roster at 6-foot-2, he’s also the craftiest. He can sneak a bounce pass through traffic on a fast break. He can zip past a 7-footer on a swooping layup with his off hand. And he’s also averaging 4.3 rebounds per game this season — third most on the team — after averaging 4.5 per game last season to become the first Bronco under 6-3 to grab 4.5 rebounds per game in at least 30 years.

“He’s heading in the direction that we envisioned after watching him through that redshirt year. I just know how gifted he is offensively, and you can’t just say offensively. He’s a great defender, too,” Rice said. “... Great scorers can make those tough shots where they shoot it and you’re all thinking, ‘Oh, that’s too tough.’ Then whack, he makes it.

“... Good teams need that guy who can go against good defense. Well, that was perfect defense, just better offense, and he’s had a lot of those possessions, so he’s huge for us.”

Because the Broncos have been so balanced offensively, Shaver does not currently have enough made field goals to be eligible to compete for the Mountain West’s top field-goal percentage. But if he did, he’d rank among the top eight for field-goal percentage (45.1%) and top two for 3-point percentage (40.5%).

“Shaver’s a baller,” Boise State senior Emmanuel Akot said. “I mean, day in, day out, every practice, he just comes to compete. He’s the best teammate you can have, so I really appreciate it.”

The Boise State men’s basketball team hosts Air Force in Mountain West action at 7 p.m. Tuesday at ExtraMile Arena in Boise. The Broncos are riding a nine-game winning streak.
The Boise State men’s basketball team hosts Air Force in Mountain West action at 7 p.m. Tuesday at ExtraMile Arena in Boise. The Broncos are riding a nine-game winning streak.

AIR FORCE AT BOISE STATE

When: 7 p.m. Tuesday

Where: ExtraMile Arena (12,380), Boise

TV: CBS Sports Network (John Sadak, King McClure). That’s DirecTV channel 221, DISH Network channel 158 and Sparklight channel 139.

Radio: 670 AM (Bob Behler, Abe Jackson)

Records: Boise State 12-4, 3-0 MW; Air Force 8-6, 1-2 MW

Series: Boise State 15-6

Last meeting: Boise State swept Air Force by scores of 78-59 and 80-69 last year in Boise

Vegas line: Boise State by 18

KenPom rating: Boise State 41; Air Force 265

KenPom & ESPN predictions

Ken Pomeroy, who created the popular college basketball statistical website KenPom.com, ranks every Division I team using an adjusted efficiency margin, which Pomeroy defines as the difference between a team’s offensive and defensive efficiency.

According to Pomeroy’s detailed statistical analysis, Boise State has a 94% chance of beating Air Force. His score prediction is a 68-51 Boise State victory.

ESPN’s College Basketball Power Index: Boise State has a 97.6% chance of winning with a predicted point differential of 21.8.

Women’s basketball: Broncos host Wyoming

The Boise State women’s basketball team will play two of its next three games against the same Mountain West opponent.

The Broncos (5-11, 1-4 MW) host Wyoming (6-7, 2-2) at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday and Colorado State (11-4, 2-3) at 2 p.m. Saturday before traveling to Laramie, Wyoming, for a rematch against the Cowgirls on Wednesday, Jan. 26. The Broncos and Cowgirls were originally slated to play in Laramie on Jan. 3, but that game had to be postponed because of COVID-19 concerns within the Cowgirls’ program.

Fans who wear orange to Wednesday’s game will receive $3 admission, and the first 200 fans will get a free Bronco Nation T-shirt.

All of Boise State’s games are streamed live on the Mountain West Network, which is available online at broncosports.com/mwn, or listen on the radio on 670 AM.

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