The Weber State University men’s basketball team will kick off the 2016-17 season on Oct. 19 with the annual Purple and White scrimmage at the Dee Events Center.
The scrimmage will begin at 7 p.m., and admission to the game is free.
Last year, the Wildcats were able to put together a 26-9 overall record and were 13-3 in Big Sky Conference play. That success led them to a berth in the NCAA tournament where they would ultimately lose to Xavier in the first round.
On Oct. 14, the Wildcats were selected to win the Big Sky Conference in both the coaches and media poll released ahead of the 2016-17 season.
“We never put too much stock in preseason rankings,” head coach Randy Rahe said. “We always have high expectations for our team, regardless of the polls.”
Senior Richaud Gittens echoed those sentiments.
“Personally, we don’t think about what other people say about us,” Gittens said. “We know what expectations we have for ourselves.”
Fans have high hopes for the Wildcats this season as they’ve gone to the NCAA Tournament two of the last three seasons.
However, a concerning factor for Wildcat fans is if the team will be able to replicate last year’s success without the help of Joel Bolomboy.
Bolomboy averaged 17 points and 12 rebounds last season and was selected with the 52nd pick in the 2016 NBA Draft by the Utah Jazz.
The Wildcats will be returning four starters from last season, including senior guard Jeremy Senglin, who was named to the Big Sky All-Conference First Team.
“(My role) on the team is definitely going to increase because Joel is gone … but a lot of my teammates are going to step up, and their load is going to increase as well,” Senglin said. “It will balance out, and we’ll be able to make up for it.”
Senglin led the team in scoring on 19 different occasions during the 2015-16 season and averaged a team high 17.9 points. He also led the team in assists with 2.8 per game.
“I’m ready to compete and ready to go,” Senglin said. “We have a great group of guys, and I feel like we’re ready. Our expectation is to win.”
Sophomore Zack Braxton, a 6-foot, 9-inch forward, will largely be asked to fill the void that Bolomboy left behind.
As a freshman, Braxton started in all 34 games last season and averaged 6.9 points and 4.1 rebounds.
“I really want to build on what I did last year,” Braxton said. “I want to be a leader.”
The Wildcats will also return senior forward Kyndahl Hill, who was named the Big Sky’s Top Reserve last season after averaging 8.2 points and 5.9 rebounds off the bench.
Hill emphasized the teams desire to return to the NCAA Tournament, as well as his personal desire to return for the third time in his college career.
“I would say it’s a motivation — a desire to get there,” Hill said. “We’re determined and hungry. We want to get back and show that we’re that good still and that we as a team have grown.”
They’ll be tested early with matchups against Stanford on Nov. 17, BYU on Dec. 7 and Utah State on Dec. 21. The Wildcats will then hit the road to kick off conference play against Montana State on Dec. 29.