Weber State Wildcats
Overall Rank: #128
Conference Rank: #2 Big Sky
2010-11: 18-14, 11-5
2010-11 postseason: CBI
Coach: Randy Rahe (95-61 at Weber State, 95-61 overall)
Damian Lillard missed all but ten games for Weber State last year and the team still managed to make the postseason. With four starters back and a healthy Lillard, this year’s squad will once again compete for a Big Sky title. Lillard, who averaged 19.9 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.6 assists two years ago, never gets the credit he deserves on a national level. He has a couple more years to change that and it will start in 2011-2012.
Lindsey Hughey is the big loss for the Wildcats. The guard was second on the team in scoring, behind Lillard’s limited action, with 12.4 points per game and added 5.2 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.4 steals. Finding another player who can do all of that will not be easy and it will take a host of Wildcats to pick up the slack. B.J. Porter showed some promise during his limited playing time as a freshman, but has opted to transfer after averaging 2.7 points per game. Trevor Morris was the big body under the basket and had a fine senior season after spending much of his collegiate career as a role-player. There are other options out there, but nobody will be as efficient of a scorer as Morris right away.
Weber State may not need too much help from the newcomers, but they will get some anyway. Frank Otis, a transfer from Southern Methodist, will battle for a starting spot at the power forward position. James Hajek added some bulk after redshirting last year and the 6-10, 250 pound center could play an important role off of the bench. Davion Berry is a proven scorer at the junior college level and will try and help replace the production lost with Hughey. Mike Brown and Shai Fields might not be ready to play huge minutes, but those two guards are also capable of doing some scoring. Gelaun Wheelwright will be a good scoring point guard sooner or later, yet he may need to spend some time learning behind the more experienced players for a year or two.
Who to Watch:
There is a lot more to this team than Lillard. Scott Bamforth is an amazing shooter who knocked down 48.8 percent of his 5.2 attempts per game from beyond the arc. He is also a quality passer, but Bamforth will do most of his damage sitting behind the three-point line. The backcourt will need to find some depth from the newcomers and sophomore Jordan Richardson. It is the frontcourt that is full of potential. Kyle Bullinger is a great forward who can play the three or the four. He has a nice looking outside shot and also led the Wildcats in rebounding a year ago. Darin Mahoney started just about every game last season and will likely move to the five spot in place of Morris. Mahoney is not much of a scorer, but he is a fine rebounder and the team’s most effective shot blocker. Byron Fulton had a very good freshman season, averaging 7.0 points and 3.5 rebounds. If he can continue to improve, Fulton will be a capable starter at the four spot. That leaves Kyle Tresnak to come in off of the bench. Tresnak, a 6-10 sophomore, got his feet wet last year and will give Weber State a big body to throw under the basket when they need it.
The interesting thing about this group is their versatility. They have the players to go big or small and Coach Randy Rahe will utilize his roster depending on the competition and the circumstance. Simply having options is a very good thing and there is little doubt that Weber State will be a tough team in the Big Sky this year. Lillard should come back strong and the fact that the Wildcats did so well without him goes to show how strong this team can be. However, the conference as whole is getting better too. In the end it will come down to a few games in March and Weber State has underperformed during the Big Sky Tournament in recent years and if that does not end, the team will be on the outside looking in yet again.
Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI/CIT
Projected Starting Five:
Damian Lillard, Junior, Guard, 17.7 points per game
Scott Bamforth, Junior, Guard, 12.2 points per game
Kyle Bullinger, Senior, Forward, 11.2 points per game
Byron Fulton, Sophomore, Forward, 7.0 points per game
Darin Mahoney, Senior, Forward, 4.0 points per game
Madness 2012 NBA Draft Rankings
#46 Damian Lillard
Check out another article about Weber State men’s basketball