#117 Weber State: 2010-11 Basketball Preview
Overall Rank: #117
Conference Rank: #2 Big Sky Conference
2009-10: 20-11, 13-3
2009-10 postseason: NIT
Coach: Randy Rahe (77-47 at Weber State, 77-47 overall)
Weber State has had two great seasons in a row, but fell short of the NCAA tournament both times. This time may be different because they return the Big Sky Player of the Year in Damian Lillard. While his influence will be nice during the regular season, the Wildcats have to get over the hump in the conference tournament after three years of disappointment.
Key Losses: G Nick Hansen, C Steve Panos, G Franklin Session
The Wildcats are bringing in a slew of new faces including redshirt freshmen Blake Davis and Byron Fulton. Those two at least have a year in the program, but it is junior college transfer Scott Bamforth who should make the biggest impact this year. The Wildcats really needed to find an experienced player who could help replace the departed Nick Hansen and Franklin Session. Coach Randy Rahe hopes Bamforth can be that guy. Incoming freshman Jordan Richardson could find some playing time as well on a team that suddenly lacks experienced bodies to bring in off the bench in the backcourt. The frontcourt gains a couple incoming freshman as well with power forward Kyle Tresnak and center James Hajek.
Lillard is easily the star of this team. He makes things happen on both ends of the floor. After averaging 19.9 points, 3.6 assists and 4.0 rebounds as a sophomore, Lillard is truly ready to step onto the national stage. He is a great outside shooter and will consistently attack the basket and at least get to the foul line. Lillard may be asked to do even more for this team while some new starters get adjusted to their roles on the team. One of those new starters will likely be Lindsey Hughey. He earned three starts last season, but Hughey was generally used as the team’s sixth man. He did very well in that role, averaging 7.8 points per game and sparking the offense with his outside shooting ability. Now he will have to prove that he can play in a starting role and help Lillard usher in the rest of the inexperienced backcourt.
The loss of Steve Panos and his 10.6 points and 5.2 rebounds is big, but Weber State has a few experienced big men who are ready to step in and fill the void. The most experienced option is forward Kyle Bullinger. After starting all 31 games last year, Bullinger proved to be a dynamic scoring power forward who can score under the basket and step outside beyond the arc and consistently knock down the long ball. In the Big Sky, having a 6-6 forward that can knock down the three-pointer is very difficult to stop. Darin Mahoney, a 6-8, 225 pound Heber City, Utah product had a relatively productive sophomore season. He has never been much of a scorer, but he does a great job helping out on the glass and hustling on defense. While he will likely stay on the bench again this year, Mahoney will have to play more minutes and be the main player off the bench in the frontcourt.
Who to Watch:
The man who has the job of replacing Panos is Trevor Morris. The 6-9, 240 pound senior has paid his dues and now it is his turn to become the interior scoring threat that Weber State needs in order to create space for Lillard to operate. While Morris certainly has the size to clog the paint, he has yet to develop into a consistent scoring threat under the basket. However, he has not really been asked to score that much either. That will change this year. If Morris can put up numbers similar to what Panos did last season, the Wildcats will be on the cusp of another Big Sky championship.
There are quite a few major changes on this team, but Lillard and Bullinger are a couple of great players to build around. The rest of the probable starters have plenty of experience, but the lack of experience on the bench could become an issue sooner or later. And on a team that is starting to develop a reputation for losing in the conference tournament, depth will become an extremely important factor and the newcomers better be able to provide it or it will another non NCAA postseason for Weber State.
Projected Post-season Tournament: CBI/CIT
Projected Starting Five:
Damian Lillard, Junior, Guard, 19.9 ppg
Scott Bamforth, Junior, Guard, DNP last season
Lindsey Hughey, Senior, Guard, 7.8 ppg
Kyle Bullinger, Junior, Forward, 8.7 ppg
Trevor Morris, Senior, Center, 4.9 ppg
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