Boise State men’s basketball coach Leon Rice knows Devonaire Doutrive is better than a 20% 3-point shooter.
He knows Abu Kigab is better than 1 for 8 and Emmanuel Akot will do better than 2 for 8.
But his biggest guarantee? Maybe the two best shooters on the team, Marcus Shaver Jr. and Max Rice, won’t go the whole season without making any 3-pointers.
So as bad as Boise State’s outside shooting has been through two games — the Broncos have made just 7 of 42 from 3-point range (16.7%) — he’s confident in knowing those numbers will soon correct.
“There’s some numbers you just absolutely know are (going to change),” Rice said Wednesday. “Usually what I tell shooters is that’s the good news. Now you have a lot of makes coming to get you to your real number.”
Boise State hopes the numbers correct quickly. The Broncos open the Charleston Classic on Thursday at noon MST against No. 22 St. Bonaventure on ESPN2. Either Clemson or Temple await on Friday, and the Broncos could play West Virginia, Marquette or Ole Miss on Sunday.
But to have any shot the Broncos will have to shoot better from the outside.
Boise State went 4 for 20 from 3-point range in a season-opening 20-point win against Utah Valley. The Broncos then hit the road against a good Irvine team and were even worse from the outside, going 3 of 22 from beyond the arc in a 58-50 loss.
The Broncos rank No. 348 of 350 Division I teams in 3-point shooting at just 16.7%. That’s right, only two teams — Fairleigh Dickinson and San Diego State — have shot a worse percentage than the Broncos in the first week of the season.
Against Irvine, the Broncos seemingly had a lot of open looks, but just couldn’t get any to fall.
“It’s never as good as you think and it’s never as bad as you think,” Rice said. “Part of it was we had a few good possessions where the operation was a success but the patient died. We ran stuff good and got a pretty good look and then it’s just a matter of making them.
“Over the course of the game maybe it won’t correct, but it corrects over the course of a season. The team that gets the best shots, your percentages will correct .... Are you going to miss some shots? Sure. But if you stack up a lot of good possessions those numbers will end up being correct for you.”
History, and common sense, says the numbers will improve. Boise State has never shot worse than 33.1% from 3-point range for a season under Rice. They’ve only finished outside the top half (worse than 175) twice in 11 years.
So for all the worrying and criticism on social media in recent days about Boise State’s lack of long-range shooting, it would behoove one to remember this simple fact: it’s only been two games.
Will this be the best 3-point shooting team Rice has ever had? Probably not. Will it be historically one of the worst in NCAA history as they currently would be on pace to be? Probably not.
The Broncos may not have the lethal 3-point shooters they’ve had in recent years like Justinian Jessup or Nick Duncan, but they’ve got proven shooters with better numbers than what they’ve shot in the first two games to start the season.
“I’ve watched Devonaire enough to know he’s not a 20% 3-point shooter, and I know he’s not a 25% free throw shooter,” Rice said. “At the end of the day you watch and Devonaire will (have better numbers), which means he has a lot of makes coming.”
While the law of averages is a big part of it, Rice said the Broncos will see their shooting numbers improve if they continue to look for better shots. The better the shots, the better the results — and he’s confident both will soon come.
“With shot selection that also means the right guys shooting the right shots for them,” Rice said. “We know what they are, but those guys have to have a better grasp of what the really, really good shots are for them. If the right guys take the right shots, we’re going to be a great shooting team.”
Boise State faces the top team in the tournament in the first round in No. 22 St. Bonaventure. The Bonnies (2-0) feature a veteran lineup with five senior starters from a group that made the NCAA Tournament last year.
Guard Kyle Lofton leads the way at 17 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game.
“They are a terrific, terrific team,” Rice said. “They have so many guys that have been in so many meaningful minutes for them throughout the years. Kyle Lofton has played maybe the highest percentage of minutes of any player in the country. He’s just a durable, terrific guard that makes that engine run. But they have a lot of great players around him.
“They’ve got a lot going for them. Part of it is the experience of them playing together for a long, long time.”
Seven of the eight teams in the Charleston Classic are ranked No. 110 or better at KenPom. The St. Bonaventure game will qualify as a ‘Quad 1’ game for Boise State’s NCAA Tournament resume, and the Broncos could get another ‘Quad 1’ game on Friday if they play Clemson.
It’s a good early test for the Broncos and a chance to get some quality wins. The Broncos hope to take advantage of it.
“That’s why you get into these tournaments,” Rice said. “You hope to have a terrific field and you hope you have these kinds of opportunities, especially on a neutral court. This tournament has shaped up to be terrific.”