College basketball • WSU returns depth, experience and a physical front line.
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Certainly, after losing the best player in program history, there's no way Weber State could hope to follow up one of the best seasons in school history with more success.
With All-American and Big Sky Conference MVP and NBA first-round selection Damian Lillard running the show, Weber State finished 25-7 and came within a game of the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats finished second in the Big Sky and eventually advanced to the second round of the Collegeinsider.com Postseason Tournament.
However, the cupboard is hardly bare, even with losing three starters. That includes Darin Mahoney, who played 123 career games, the most by any player in Big Sky history.
"This is always an exciting time of year for us, and we are anxious and looking forward to getting started," said WSU coach Randy Rahe prior to Friday's opening practice. "I'm excited about the group we have coming back as well as the new players that have joined our program."
Weber State's annual Purple and White Scrimmage is scheduled for Oct. 24. The regular season begins Nov. 9 against Arizona Christian.
Rahe's expansive player rotation and several early-season injuries, notably departed senior forward Kyle Bullinger, worked in Weber State's favor, building depth and experience that should pay off in 2012-13.
Second-team All-Big Sky guard Scott Bamforth averaged 14.5 points last season while shooting 40 percent from the 3-point line. Forward Byron Fulton contributed 7.2 points off the bench.
Forward Frank Otis, one of those hurt last season, provided scoring and rebounding when healthy, while quick guard Gelaun Wheelwright earned starting minutes as a freshman.
Also, Weber State opponents must deal with two physical, twin-like post players in Kyle Tresnak and James Hajek, both 6-foot-10, 250 pounds. Among the newcomers, junior Davion Berry, a forward from Oakland, Calif., redshirted last season after averaging 23.7 points as a Division II All-American for Cal State Monterrey Bay.