Weber State 2010 NIT Tournament Preview
Weber State Wildcats - Big Sky (20-10, 13-3)
Seed: #7 - Illinois Bracket
Big Wins: 12/22 vs Morehead State (66-64), 1/2 Montana (64-56), 2/13 Northern Colorado (81-76)
Bad Losses: 11/22 at Seattle (87-91), 1/7 at Northern Colorado (75-84), 2/28 at Portland State (79-84)
Coach: Randy Rahe
Probable Weber State Starters:
Damian Lillard, Sophomore, Guard, 19.7 ppg, 3.7 apg, 4.1 rpg
Nick Hansen, Senior, Guard, 9.2 ppg, 1.9 apg
Franklin Session, Junior, Forward, 10.6 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 1.8 spg
Kyle Bullinger, Sophomore, Forward, 8.9 ppg, 4.2 rpg
Steve Panos, Senior, Center, 10.8 ppg, 5.3 rpg
Key Weber State Roleplayers:
Lindsey Hughey, Junior, Guard, 7.8 ppg, 2.0 apg
Darin Mahoney, Sophomore, Forward, 2.8 ppg, 3.7 rpg
Trevor Morris, Junior, Center, 4.8 ppg, 3.1 rpg
Why The Wildcats Can Surprise:
As long as Damian Lillard is on the floor, which he almost always is, Weber State can beat anybody. Lillard is one of the best, and most underrated, scorers in the nation. Not only is the 6-2 sophomore a fine long range shooter, but he attacks the rim with ease using his nice combination of size and speed. Lillard gets to the charity stripe 6.1 times per game and connects on 85.3 percent of his attempts once he gets there. It is not uncommon for Lillard to eclipse the 30 point mark and it is extremely uncommon for him not to reach double digits.
Lillard is not the only player in the backcourt. Senior Nick Hansen gives the backcourt more size at 6-4. Most of Hansen’s shots come from beyond the arc, but that works out fine since Lillard will attack the basket. Hansen is also a capable ballhandler and that allows Lillard to occasionally work off the ball. The only other major contributor on the perimeter is Lindsey Hughey. The 6-3 junior has turned into a fine scoring threat off the bench after spending a couple years at the junior college level. Hughey may be a little inconsistent with his shot, but unlike Hansen, Hughey does not have to rely on his outside shooting and can finish around the basket.
Why The Wildcats Can Disappoint:
Outside of starting center Steve Panos, the Weber State frontcourt lacks quite a few things. Panos is an experienced big man who has developed into a consistent scorer around the basket and a decent rebounder. The problem is he is not a shot blocking threat whatsoever. Neither is fellow starter Kyle Bullinger. The 6-6 power forward will stretch out the defense with his outside shooting ability, but he is not an imposing figure under the basket and not much of a rebounder. Trevor Morris and Darrin Mahoney give Coach Randy Rahe more options off the bench. Both are alright shot blockers and rebounders, but neither is much of a threat to score and they pretty much come in to play defense and eat up some fouls.
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Who To Watch for Weber State:
Small forward Franklin Session is trying to help out the frontcourt as much as he can. Not only does he lead the team in rebounding, but he is also Weber State’s best shotblocker. It is nice to have a player like Session around to do those things, but the fact that he is just 6-2 and leads the team in those categories is a problem. Session is a great athlete who will do plenty of scoring inside and out, but he cannot do all the frontcourt’s work by himself.
Weber State By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 77.3 (31st in nation, 2nd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 71.4 (245, 5)
Field-Goal Percentage: 45.2 (87, 5)
Field-Goal Defense: 44.0 (218, 4)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 8.3 (19, 1)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 36.0 (90, 6)
Free-Throw Percentage: 73.2 (39, 2)
Rebound Margin: 2.8 (91, 1)
Assists Per Game: 13.3 (151, 4)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.3 (54, 3)
Joel’s Bracket Says: First Round loss to Cincinnati