College hoops preview: 'Cats have high expectations again
As Weber State's new basketball season approaches, expectations are through the Dee Events Center roof.
What else is new?
The Wildcats have won 55 games over the last two years, including a 32-4 record in the Big Sky Conference. They have reached the championship game of the league tournament three times in the last four years.
With four of its top six scorers returning from a team that went 30-7 last season, Weber State looks poised for another eye-popping run.
Heading into Friday's opener at BYU, however, coach Randy Rahe is more interested in improvement than expectations.
"You know what?" said Rahe. "I just want this team to be as good as it can be. I know there will always be comparisons made between this team and that team, but I don't care about that stuff.
"I want these guys to reach their potential. Where that takes us, I don't know. Wherever it leads, it leads. But all we're talking about is getting better every day. That's our biggest goal."
Weber State started Rahe's eighth season as coach with an 85-77 exhibition win over Adams State last week.
For the Wildcats, it was a good first step.
"We found out we have a lot of work to do," Rahe said. "The first time you play in front of a crowd against another team it can really expose you. And I thought we got exposed in a lot of ways. But it was good for us because now we can try to fix those holes."
Three starters return for the Wildcats, who reached the final game of the Collegeinsiders.com tournament last March.
The group includes the senior backcourt of Davion Berry and Jordan Richardson, along with senior center Kyle Tresnak.
Berry averaged 15.2 points and established himself as another in a long line of outstanding Weber State guards.
"Davion is really good at everything he does offensively," Rahe said. "He's a jack of all trades, really. He shoots the ball well, he passes the ball well and he has a good feel for the game."
Starting with BYU, Weber State faces a difficult schedule, which includes only four non-conference home games, topped by a visit from Utah State on Nov. 26.
In addition to facing the Cougars, the Wildcats play road games at UCLA, Colorado State and Texas-Arlington.
Rahe calls it the "toughest schedule we've had since I've been here top to bottom. [But] I did it on purpose. â¦ I've always believed we need to play quality teams."
Weber State men's basketball schedule
Nov. 8 at BYU, 7 p.m.
Nov. 16 at Colorado State, 3 p.m.
Nov. 26 Utah State, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 30 San Jose State, 7 p.m.
Dec. 7 at Texas-Arlington, 6:30 p.m.
Dec. 11 at Utah Valley, 7 p.m.
Dec. 17 St. Katherine, 7 p.m.
Dec. 22 at UCLA, 5 p.m.
Dec. 28 Northern New Mexico, 7 p.m.
Jan. 2 Eastern Washington, 7 p.m.
Jan. 4 Portland State, 7 p.m.
Jan. 9 at Northern Colorado, 7 p.m.
Jan. 11 at North Dakota, 1 p.m.
Jan. 18 Southern Utah, 7 p.m.
Jan. 20 Idaho State, 7 p.m.
Jan. 23 Montana State, 7 p.m.
Jan. 25 Montana, 7 p.m.
Jan. 30 at Northern Arizona, 6:30 p.m.
Feb. 1 at Sacramento State, 8 p.m.
Feb. 6 North Dakota, 7 p.m.
Feb. 8 Northern Colorado, 7 p.m.
Feb. 13 at Southern Utah, 7 p.m.
Feb. 17 at Idaho State, 7 p.m.
Feb. 20 at Montana, 7 p.m.
Feb. 22 at Montana State, 7 p.m.
Feb. 27 Sacramento State, 7 p.m.
March 1 Northern Arizona, 7 p.m.
March 6 at Portland State, 8 p.m.
March 8 at Eastern Washington, 3 p.m.
March 13-15 Big Sky tournament, TBA
Weber State primer
Best case • Weber States uses a rugged non-conference schedule that includes games against UCLA, BYU, Colorado State and Utah State to prepare for a run through the Big Sky Conference.
Worst case • The Wildcats can't replace the leadership and 45-percent 3-point shooting of Scott Bamforth, who stretched defenses and always seemed to make the big play in close games.
Watch out for • Davion Berry. The senior led the Wildcats in scoring (15.2) and assists (4.8) last season. Continuing the Weber tradition of big-time guards, he might be the Big Sky Conference's best player.