This season marked the 50th year that Weber State University has competed in Division I basketball.
The conference season started out with a long WSU winning streak. The Wildcats won their first nine conference games before losing back-to-back games in Montana against the University of Montana and Montana State University. Then, WSU opened up another winning streak and didn’t lose a game for the rest of the season. This included knocking off UM in Ogden by 24 points.
Head coach Randy Rahe said getting a win over UM during the year will help the Wildcats feel more confident if they have to face it again.
“Lots of basketball is still to be played, but it was a good confidence win for us,” he said.
The Wildcats capped of their season celebrating their 50 years of Division I basketball last weekend. On Friday, WSU hosted “An Evening with Legends,” which featured stories from several players and coaches. On Saturday night during halftime, WSU’s top 50 players received honors. These players included Willie Sojourner, Jimmy Degraffenried, Harold Arceneaux, Jermaine Boyette and Damian Lillard.
At the start of the season, WSU held the 23rd-best winning percentage in men’s basketball Division I history. ESPN also ranked it as the 39th-best college basketball program in the country over the past 50 years.
Throughout the season, WSU saw multiple players step up when they were needed. Scott Bamforth led the team through much of the season with strong shooting. Davion Berry also played well throughout the year. Both players were rewarded by being named to the All-Conference first team. Berry was also named Newcomer of the Year. Kyle Tresnak was named to the second team, and Frank Otis received honorable mention.
This was the third time Bamforth has been named to an All-Conference team, but his first time being named to the first team. He said a lot of his success over his career has come from having good teammates and being in the right places on the court.
“My teammates get me shots . . .” Bamforth said. “I just try to make plays off of that and not really force it too much.”
Over the past 50 years, the Wildcats have won 19 Big Sky Championships, the most of any school in conference history. WSU has also made 14 NCAA Tournament appearances, which is also the most in conference history. A total of 12 Wildcats have made it to the NBA. The highest-drafted player in school history is Lillard, who was taken sixth in last year’s draft by the Portland Trail Blazers.
Next, the Wildcats will try to get over the hurdle that has tripped them up the last few years: the conference tournament. For the past three years, the Wildcats have advanced to the championship game of the tournament. They’ve fallen to the UM Grizzlies each time.
WSU finished the year strong, with a winning streak similar to the one that started its conference season. The Wildcats will now look to do well in the conference tournament and possibly cap off their 50th season with a return to the NCAA Tournament.