Thursday, March 31, 2011

Can Weber pull a VCU?

A friend recently texted me the following: "Can Weber State pull a VCU next year?" In other words, can Weber State make it to the NCAA Tournament and win some games? To be honest, I have been more concerned with whether or not Weber will win the Big Sky Tournament next year and win the automatic berth. But the more I got thinking about my friend's text, the more entertained I became with the question. And so I began making comparisons to what I think may be Weber State's main players next year to VCU's top nine players this year. I found a lot of similarities. (These comparisons are assuming a few things about next years WSU roster 1-WSU starting five will be LIllard, KBull, Bamforth, Mahoney, and Tresnak and 2- The next four players to significantly contribute will be Otis, Porter, Fulton, and JRich)

Sr. Leadership Out of VCU's best five players, four are seniors, and the fifth is a Jr.

WSU will likely start two seniors and three juniors next year. However, two of the juniors, Lillard and Bamforth, would be seniors next year if it weren't for inuries.

Height VCU's two tallest players to contribute significant minutes to the team are 6'9". The average height of the nine players who play the most minutes is 6'5".

Of the nine players I mentioned above, Weber's tallest two are Tresnak at 6'10" and Mahoney at 6'8" (Though I wouldn't be surprised if red-shirt freshmen James Hajek at 6'10" plays a bunch of minutes next year too). The average height of Weber's nine players I listed above, like VCU, is 6'5".

Shooting With no one over 6'9", VCU has had to find success shooting the ball to continue upsetting teams. As the NCAA Tournament has gone on, I imagine VCU's hot shooting has been no surprise to VCU fans. They have three players who shoot better than 40% from three-point range and have a team average of 37% three-point shooting. Their free throw percentage as a team is also adequate at 71%.

Weber is returning three players who averaged 43% accuracy from behind the arc, including the nation's top three-point percentage shooter in Jr., Scott Bamforth. Also, it is likely that Damian Lillard will be shooting around 40% from down-town as well. This year the cats three-point average as a team was 41%. They were also very good at their free throws, making nearly 75% of attempts from the line.

Schedule The main difference I found when looking at the two teams was the difference in their schedules. The best teams Weber currently has scheduled for next year include, San Jose State, Cal, Utah State, and BYU. This year VCU played and beat four NCAA tournament teams -- Old Dominion, UCLA, Richmond, and Wofford. VCU also played Tennessee and Wake Forrest. In my opinion, VCU's schedule is much more difficult this year than Weber's looks for next. If Weber wants to get a good seed in the NCAA tournament next year they need to beat their non-conference opponents and hope that most of them also make the tournament.

That's the extent to the comparisons I made.

One more point. The three things you always hear that contribute to success in the NCAA tournament are 1-Sr. leadership 2. Guard play, and 3. Depth. Weber will have all of these next year. Sr. leadership will come from seniors Bullinger and Mahoney, joined by kind-of seniors LIllard and Bamforth. The guard play will obviously come from NBA prospect Lillard and three-point shooting ace, Scott Bamforth. (Jordan Richardson and KBull are two excellent guards as well). It appears like Weber has the depth to compete as well. This year three freshmen played significant minutes, and from all accounts I've heard, transfer Frank Otis will be a great player as well (maybe even a starter).

All this speculation and comparison is a lot of fun to do. And watching teams like Butler and VCU make it to the Final Four gives me a lot of hope for next year's Wildcat squad as well. But when it's all said and done, what matters the most is that the 'Cats make it to and take care of business during the Big Sky Tournament, something they have failed to do in the last three years. But then again, they have never had a team like the one that they will have next year.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Diamian's Diary

The Big Sky Conference has been doing a video diary on Damian Lillard's recovery from foot surgery. As I understand it, they have given him access to a Flip camcorder for him to document the recovery. Every once in a while they collect the camcorder and produce a new chapter in the series. Here is a link to Part 2 of the saga. Great Job, Big Sky, and thanks for doing this! We hope to see more stuff like it in the future.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Catching Up With Damian Lillard

February 23 His freshman year, he made first team all conference honors and was part of a Big Sky championship. His sophomore year, he led the Wildcats to a regular season Big Sky title and earned the Big Sky MVP award and made AP all-american honorable mention. This, his junior year, promised to be something special for Damian Lillard. Lillard's non-conference play indicated as much. He was one of the nation's top scorers, and several sports websites had him projected to be a potential NBA first-round draft pick. On

Damian Lillard, 2009-10 Big Sky MVP
December 16th, on the road at Tulsa, all that changed for Lillard. In the game Lillard broke his foot so badly that he would need surgery and would have to sit out the remainder of the season.

Without their leader, the Wildcats struggled to find an identity at first, losing five of their next nine games, and starting Big Sky play with a 3-4 record. Since then, the 'Cats have turned things around are currently on a seven game winning streak in league play. While he has to watch his team from the sidelines with a foot in a boot and crutches under his arms, Lillard does not hang his head or get down on himself. He continues to lead his team vocally and through his example of hard work. When Scott Bamforth hit the game-winning buzzer beater against UNC, Lillard was one of the first people on the court, hobbling to congratulate his teammate. If you haven't seen the video yet, check it out on's home page.

Luckily, it appears the NCAA will be giving Lillard his junior year back, and from all indications, his foot will be completely healed in time to make another run at a Big Sky title and an NCAA tournament berth.

Below is a Q&A with Lillard, in which he discusses how he has coped with the injury, his thoughts on this year's team, and his hopes for next season.

WeberHoops: How's the foot?
Damian Lillard: My foot is doing well. The doctors have said it's healing ahead of schedule, and it's been pretty smooth this far.

WH: How has having to sit out the season and watch your team play without you affected your approach to basketball?
DL: Being out definitely changed my approach. First of all I love the game more now because it has been taken away from me. Also, being able to watch and see what makes us successful, unsuccessful, what coaches see that players don't, and I realize how important it is for guys to hold themselves accountable.

WH: With the injured foot, are you still able to work on certain aspects of your game?
DL: Right after I broke my foot me and the coaching staff sat down and came up with ways that I could still be getting better. I have been lifting five days a week for about two months now. I started shooting on the gun from a chair to get my release up, and doing ball handling from a chair as well. I've also watched every game of my freshman and sophomore year to learn from watching myself. I have taken note of so many things I have gotten better at and still can improve on. I have been doing cardio as well. Being a leader off the court is something I have worked on as well given the fact that I can't play. I think this will help my leadership on the floor and in practice next year.

WH: How is school going for you? What's your major?
DL: My major is technical sales, which is pretty simple but it's one of the more successful degrees you can have at this university. At first I wasn't sure about it, but now that I have learned so much in this field and all the opportunities available with this major, I am satisfied with it. I have had a lot of time to work at being a better student, not that I was a bad one but I've had more time for it missing a few road trips.

WH: On your Facebook, you recently mentioned how Darin Mahoney changes games without even taking shots. Can you elaborate?
DL: The post about Darin Mahoney was just for recognition on his part. I feel like he does so much for us without scoring points. People give me so much credit for stats, but I feel like he's as valuable to our team as anyone. He makes mistakes and the coaches get on him and he never complains, not even once. I've played two and a half seasons with him and that has been consistent. How calm he is calms us as a team when adversity hits us. We have so many guys out there who are in situations that they weren't before, and I feel like they see Moe just calm as usual and we follow him. His energy he brings by making small plays that lead to our bigger plays. I want people to know that he is a big part of us being successful. And he's a great guy and teammate.

WH: In the last six games or so, I've noticed a change in the team's defensive intensity. What or who do you think is the catalyst for this?
DL: The last six games our defensive effort has been great. I think our coaches have consistently emphasized defense is going to make us successful. He demands it from us and we respond to him. Before the UNC game I did talk to the team, just letting them know what we were capable of and that it was time. I told them we can beat anybody and we have to get back to being the Weber State that we have been the last three years.

WH:. What's it going to take for the Wildcats to win the Big Sky Tournament this year?
DL: The way we have been playing is how we can win the tournament. We have played great defense and really have been sharing the ball on offense. Togetherness is going to make us successful. We have to be on the same page on both ends of the floor, we have been, so that has helped us win seven straight. If we can continue this, then we have a chance.

WH: Looking forward to next year, I keep thinking about how good the team will be. Kbull and Mahoney will return as seniors, Bamforth has emerged as a great player, the freshmen on the team keep looking better and better, and I've heard great things about Frank Otis. What kind of potential do you think you guys have next year?
DL: Thinking about next year's team gets me very excited because everyone will be a year older and more experienced. With me not playing, I think it helped some guys really get better and more confident. With that and me coming back we can be a very strong team. Next year's team has an extreme amount of potential, but potential is just potential. We have to continue to get better because we could come out and not be what were suppose to be, or we can handle our business and reach that high ceiling. We will be deep, athletic, and young but experienced

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Whoopie Cushion Guy

February 21 is a website that rates and reviews the many different professional and college stadiums and arenas throughout the U.S.

One of their most recent reviews was of Weber State's Dee Events Center. David Mortimer, the author of the review, gave the Purple Palace a pleasant four out of five

stars, mentioning things like the student section's "Turn over, Turn over, You Suck!" chant to easy access to the arena to the Whoopie Cushion Guy in the student section for his high praise.

Since Whoopie Cushion Guy, also known as Joey Puntasecca, was mentioned twice in the review and seems to be a major reason for the four-star rating, caught up with him and asked him a few questions about himself and his take on the basketball experience one can have at the DEC.

WeberHoops: So how long have you been going to Weber State Basketball Games?
Whoopie Cushion Guy: I am a junior.
WH: Why did you start wearing the Whoopie Cushion costume to the games?
WCG: Well, one of the photographers (Paul "Paul Parazzi" Turnblom) brought it (during the Idaho State home game) and had it laying down on the railing across the first row, and I was leaning on it and didn't know what it was so I picked it up and thought it was hilarious so I put it on to stand out and for something different! Weber doesn't have enough "Crazy" fans, and I like being different.
WH: What is your favorite part about the games?
WCG: My favorite part about the games is to yell really loud at the other team and try to get into their heads.
WH: What has been your favorite moment in the Dee Events Center?
WCG: My favorite moment in the Dee Events Center this season was when we broke Northern Colorado's undefeated streak.
WH: What do you think would make the Weber State basketball watching experience even better?
WCG: If there were more crazy fans like me, and the students were excited to go and watch the team, so that we could fill the student section and everyone yell really loud.
WH: What would you tell other students to convince them to come to the games?
WCG: I would show them my costume, show them how much fun I have, and share that experience with them and persuade them into coming and joining me. We are already in talks about what other costumes will show up next season!!

Monday, February 7, 2011

WSU Senior, Trevor Morris

February 4 Since we've done a Q&A with several of the under-classman on this year's team and we are now already 2/3rds the way through the season, I figured it was time to get to know the Wildcat veterans a little better. This year's Wildcat team has only 2 seniors, and Trevor Morris is the only one who has been on the team for four years.

For the first three years of his career here at Weber, Morris contributed as a solid back-up to center, Steve Panos. This year Morris has been given the starting job and has not disappointed.

He has had several double-digit games, including a 16 point, 7 rebound and 2 block game in a 65-61 victory over Seattle University. His most recent heroics came in Weber's most recent home game against UM. Morris had a career-high 17 points. Against UNC he had 10 points, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks and a steal. While Scott Bamforth's half-court buzzer-beater shot got all the media attention and video posts on Facebook, maybe the next best play of the game was Morris's second block. With under a minute to play and the game tied a UNC player had what looked like an easy dunk that would have put the Bears up by two. But Morris was having none of that. He came out of nowhere and knocked the ball out of the UNC's players hands and left the guy hanging on the rim while the ball ended up in Weber's hands.

Here is the recent Q&A with Morris. Enjoy.

WeberHoops: How have you enjoyed your time in Ogden at Weber State?
Trevor Morris: I've really enjoyed my time here at Weber State. It has allowed me to explore other areas of interest that span outside of the gym. And the success that we've had as a program on the court has been an amazing experience as well.

WH: What's your major?
TMO: I'm a History Teaching major with a P.E./Coaching minor

WH: What's something about you Weber State fans might not know? Hobbies, nicknames, etc.?
TMO: Fan's might not know that Bullinger and myself are very good friends and in the off season we take trips to his home state of Wyoming and go on fishing and hiking trips.

WH: I'm dying to know. Have any of the young freshman dunked on you in practice yet? (After that monster block against UNC on Saturday, I would imagine not.)
TMO: Haha that is a good question. We have two big freshman this year in Tresnak and Hajek and they've tried but I've been lucky enough to escape being dunk on, so far at least!

WH: As a 4th year Senior on a fairly young team, how would you explain your role on the team?
TMO: I try and be a leader. As you may know, I'm not the most vocal person, so I've had to challenge myself everyday to try and talk to the new guys and just be positive, but I've always believed that one should lead my example. So i try and go out everyday, practice or game, and give it my all. Hopefully they can take some good things from that.

WH: What do you think it is going to take to go to NCAA tournament this year?
TMO: Even though we've been through a lot of adversity with some guys getting hurt and what not, we all have confidence in our own ability, and we know that to make it to where we want to be, we just have to keep working hard and getting better everyday. We learn new things about ourselves and our team everyday, so we just have to keep challenging ourselves and if we do that we'll have an opportunity to be where we want to be at the end of the year.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Jordan Richardson, WSU Freshman

October 18 When considering the outlook of Weber State men's basketball, one thing is certain: as long as we have Damian Lillard leading the team, the 'Cats will be a dominant force in the Big Sky Conference. But what happens when Lillard gets his diploma? Will the 'Cats still be able to dominate? And the question that maybe we should ask that will help answer these questions is, Is there a point guard already in the program that will be able to take over and run the team the way Lillard has?

When Jordan Richardson signed his letter-of-intent in November of 2009, the Wildcats may have found the man who will be able to run the team when Lillard moves on. Richardson attended Merrill West High School in Northern California where he averaged around 22 points per game as a senior.

ESPN said the following of Richardson's skill set: "Richardson has all the physical attributes to play at the Division I level. He has a chiseled physique with solid speed, quickness, and bounce. His strong frame allows him to finish in the paint area and he loves to push it in transition." With this skill set, it is no wonder why Rahe recruited the kid. The rumors are that he will not red-shirt this year and will see some playing time. While it may be hard for him to see much time playing behind Lillard, Hughey, and JC transfer Bamforth, it will be interesting to see how Rahe plays him and how well he fits into the system as a true freshman.

Below is a short Q&A he was kind enough to take the time to do with

Weber Hoops: How was your summer? Did you get to do anything fun?
Jordan Richardson: My summer was pretty good, I didn't really do anything interesting, was working out the whole time.

WH: How do you like college life so far? Is it anything like you expected?
JR: I like it a lot so far. It's not like anything I expected though; you are busy all the time with school and basketball.

WH: What is your favorite class so far?
JR: I really don't have a favorite class right now. lol

WH: Have you decided on a major yet?
JR: I'm going into communications.

WH: What is something about you that Weber fans probably don't know? Any hobbies or nicknames?
JR: I like to hang out with my friends and watch movies. Everybody usually calls me Jrich.

WH: Have you dunked on Trevor Morris yet?
JR: Haha no i haven't yet.

WH: I've heard speculation that you probably won't redshirt. What do you see your role being on the team this year?
JR: Well it's kind of early to know my role now. I just try to go out and work hard everyday.

WH: Now that the team is all back in Ogden and in school, do you guys get together to play ball much? How is the team looking? When do team practices officially start?
JR: Yes we play pretty much everyday. Our team is looking really good right now. Official practice starts October 15.

WH: How do you like playing with Lillard? Is there anything you think you can learn from playing with him?
JR: I like playing with him a lot. It seems like he does everything well. I can learn just knowing how to run a team and our system.
By Mark Berger
For questions, comments, or thoughts, email me at

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Weber State Goes to Boston

My little brother, Andrew, lives in Boston and was able to attend the recent Weber State v. Boston College football game. He wrote this blog for me.

WSU at Boston College

September 6 Heavy rains descended on Boston Friday night and into the early hours of Saturday morning, but by the time most New Englanders woke up, Hurricane Earl had left only clear skies, dry air and a blistering heat in its wake. The Weber State Wildcats made the 2,091 mile trek from Ogden to Boston a few days earlier to face the Boston College Eagles. BC fans didn�t seem too worried about their season opener. "I've never even heard of 'Wehbah State' before," was often said in regard to the game, "aren't they division 1?"

Turns out, they didn't have much to worry about, as the Eagles pounced the Wildcats, 38-20.

But the Wildcats didn't go down without a fight, and put on quite a game, gaining some respect from BC and its fans. Offensively they looked sharp. Despite being under constant pressure from BC's defensive line, Wildcat quarterback

Cameron Higgins played quite well completing 24/39 for 234 yards. He scrambled and found open receivers on several occasions.

Unfortunately the pass game turned out to be Weber State's only edge. The Eagle's defensive line looked a lot like the Colonial forces during the first two advances by the British Regulars at the Battle of Bunker Hill (which took place 10 miles from BC's Alumni Stadium), allowing Weber to only run 104 yards on 39 carries. On the other side of the ball, BC was able to run for 188 yards on only 33 carries. Giant holes opened up in Weber's defense allowing BC to do some serious damage on the ground. Mental errors (Weber had 9 penalties, many of them false starts) and some key turnovers, including fumbling the ball in BC territory and an interception that was returned for a touchdown, didn't help Weber either. Weber State didn't give up. With less than two minutes remaining, Weber recovered a fumble and was able to score one last touchdown. And with 19 seconds remaining, down by 18, Weber still fought on, attempting an onside kick (which didn't recover).

Overall the game was a good start to the Wildcat season. They can go back west having gained some valuable experience and with confidence that they will be a force to be reckoned with this year.