Weber State basketball: Wildcats still working to find offensive identity
At 4-3, the Wildcats are one of only two Big Sky Conference teams with a winning preseason record. Sacramento State is the other.
But, coming off a home loss to BYU and with only seven games under their belt going into the conference opener Thursday at Eastern Washington, how have the Wildcats adjusted to some new faces as well as the loss of a reliable one, Damian Lillard?
"Heading into league, I feel like we're heading in the right direction, I really do," WSU coach Randy Rahe said. "Are we as good as we're going to be the first, second week of January? No. There's a lot of teams in league in the same boat."
Weber State was scheduled to compete in an exempt tournament in Wyoming, but found out it could not participate until it was too late to reschedule another tournament, three vital games before heading into an expanded BSC schedule.
The additions of Southern Utah and North Dakota increased the conference schedule to 20 games, limiting the preseason.
So Weber State, picked to finish in second place prior to the season, has worked to find its offensive identity. Defensively, the Wildcats are doing well, holding opponents to less than 40 percent shooting with a plus turnover margin.
"We found our identity," said Weber State newcomer and forward Davion Berry. "Toughness, togetherness and aggressiveness. That's our team identity."
Offensively, however, as in the loss to BYU, Weber State continues to have unproductive stretches. With the exception of the one-point win at Dayton, the Wildcats are still seeking their first prominent victory.
The Wildcats also play eight of their first 12 conference games away from the Dee Events Center.
Without Lillard, Weber State's offense has been more balanced, with Berry (14.3) and Scott Bamforth (10.6) averaging in double figures. Forward Frank Otis and center Kyle Tresnak are right there, too, scoring more than nine points each a game.
Offensively, Rahe must find the dependability that Lillard, now an NBA Rookie of the Year candidate with Portland, brought.
"Defensively, we've got our identity down," Rahe said. "Offensively, I think each game will smooth out better and we'll play better offense. So, I like where we're headed. We have so much room to grow. The ceiling of this basketball team is pretty good.
"We've just got to continue to chop wood every day."
Men's basketball Weber State at E. Washington
O At Cheney, Wash.
Tipoff • 7 p.m. MST
Radio • 1280 AM
Records • WSU 4-3; EWU 2-8
Series record • WSU 41-20
Last meeting • WSU 84-75 (Feb. 11)
About the Wildcats • Forward Davion Berry was named Big Sky Player of the Week for his career-high 25 points in Saturday's loss to BYU. ... Gelaun Wheelwright finished with a season-high 12 points against BYU. â¦ A year after leading the nation at the foul line, WSU is at 66.3 percent, 10th in the Big Sky.
About the Eagles • EWU ranks second in the Big Sky in scoring at 73.8 points per game. But the Eagles are 343rd in the nation in scoring defense, allowing 83.2 per game.
Online now • For a story previewing the game, visit sltrib.com/sports
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