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Today, Weber State University’s basketball season officially kicks off with the annual Purple and White Game at the Dee Events Center.
WSU is coming off one of its best seasons in school history, as the team finished with a 25-7 overall record and made it to the finals of the Big Sky Conference Tournament. The Wildcats lost three players from last season, but should still have strong team and a good year.
The Wildcats are, of course, without Damian Lillard, but they are still expected to field a strong team for the upcoming season. This year, WSU is picked to finish second in the conference behind the University of Montana.
WSU will have a strong core of returning players, with Scott Bamforth, Frank Otis, Byron Fulton and Kyle Tresnak all returning. The team will be joined by a few newcomers who have Head Coach Randy Rahe feeling excited for the upcoming season.
Davion Berry, who sat out last season after transferring to WSU, will likely play a big role in this year’s team. Berry has drawn some comparisons to Lillard, playing with a similar style. WSU has two players joining the team out of high school, one of which is expected to make an immediate impact.
Joel Bolomboy will likely play this season as a true freshman. Bolomboy is coming to Ogden from Fort Worth, Texas.
This season, WSU will have a number of high-profile games. The first big game of the year will come in early November when the Wildcats travel to Logan to take on Utah State University. Last year in Ogden, WSU beat the Aggies in a tightly contested game that got a little chippy at the end. It will be interesting to see how USU bounces back after a tough year last season, and if WSU can pull out another win over its in-state rival.
The Wildcats will also play Utah Valley University early in the season, but their biggest game of the year will come in mid-December. On Dec. 15, WSU will host Brigham Young University. The game against BYU will likely be the biggest test for the Wildcats this year. The Cougars are always tough, and WSU will need a good game to beat them, even with the game at home.
Following the game against the Cougars, WSU will open up its conference season in late December when they travel to Eastern Washington University. WSU will be hoping to get some early conference wins with its first games coming on the road against EWU and Portland State University.
The Wildcats will play their first home conference game on Jan. 3 against the University of Northern Colorado, which could be a surprisingly hard team this year. UNC should have a strong team and will prove an early conference challenge for WSU.
Other key games for WSU this season will be hosting UM on Valentine’s Day and a potential Bracketbusters game in late February.
The past few seasons, WSU and UM have battled for the title of top team in the Big Sky. WSU could take an early advantage over the Grizzlies this season. UM will start the season shorthanded, with injuries to a few key players. The Wildcats will meet the Grizzlies for the first time this season on Jan. 26 when WSU travels to the Big Sky state.
Losing Lillard will hurt WSU, but there are still plenty of talented players and a few emerging youngsters who can help the team out. The Wildcats should be able to make the Big Sky playoffs this season. Two of the past three years, WSU has made the Big Sky finals, then lost to the Grizzlies. Hopefully this will be the year WSU is able to snap the Montana voodoo and get to the NCAA tournament.