Weber State basketball: Wildcats bring new players, new offense to 2017-18 season

Wednesday , September 27, 2017 - 9:51 PM

BRANDON GARSIDE, Standard-Examiner Staff

OGDEN — Weber State basketball is gearing up for the 2017-18 season and will begin practice Friday, Sept. 29.

The team met inside the Dee Events Center on Wednesday afternoon for its annual media day to share their thoughts about the upcoming season.

EXPECTATIONS

Head coach Randy Rahe mentioned he wasn’t certain about how well his team would perform once the season begins, but he likes the attributes his new team has.

“I like this team. I don’t know how good we’re going to be, but I do know this; we’ve got a really hard-working team,” Rahe said. “We’ve got a team that shows a little toughness and we’ve got a very connected team. That part really excites me. Those are the things I’m always concerned about going into a new year.”

After he signed an eight-year contract with Weber State, Rahe cited a winning culture and chance at competing every year for a conference championship as reasons to stick around Ogden as the head coach.

This year is no different and a championship will once again be the goal. 

Junior center Zach Braxton is anxious to start the season with that goal in mind and said he’s ready to lead.

“I’m really comfortable leading these guys this year,” Braxton said. “I’m excited to spend some time just getting to know everybody, getting this new team ready to go and hopefully win a championship.”

PERSONNEL

Last season, the Wildcats lacked size in the front court, which resulted in rebounding and defensive issues.

That problem has been addressed through recruiting, and now the roster consists of five players standing at 6-foot-8 or higher.

BREKKOTT CHAPMAN: Roy native ready to roll with the Wildcats

Intermingled with seasoned veterans will be a variety of new faces with a bit of international flair as well.

Among the seven freshmen, forward Michal Kozak of the Czech Republic has impressed in pick up games with the team.

“He just knows how to play, and that’s what I really like about Michal,” senior swingman Dusty Baker said. “You guys will see that this year and the next four years that he really knows how to play basketball. He’s not worried about getting his points, he’s just worried about playing the right way. I think you’ll see that a lot this year.”

Ryan Richardson is the lone four-year senior, with Baker joining him as a senior in his third year after transferring to Ogden. Braxton and point guard Cody John are juniors, with junior Brekkott Chapman making his debut after sitting out last season after transferring from Utah.

“I feel that we have one of the best teams that I’ve been a part of ever in my basketball life,” Richardson said. “Everyone’s so close, like a family. I’m just excited to get out there and grind and battle with them. It’ll be a lot of fun.”

STYLE OF PLAY

Rahe has made his living with what he learned as an assistant under Stew Morrill at Utah State. While opposing teams will still see some of the traditional Wildcat plays, there will be new wrinkles to facilitate the personnel.

“We’re changing a few things. We’re trying to open the floor,” Rahe said. “If you’ve got a guy that can stretch the floor, shoot the ball, is skilled, then you can get the floor spread in a lot of ways. There are a few more free-flowing things that we’re going to try to incorporate. We’ll still run some of the same stuff, but it’s exciting. I’m excited to see it. I think it’s going to fit our personnel really well.”

The biggest concern heading into the season will be defense and rebounding, but players said they weren’t concerned about succeeding at those things.

Between guys like Chapman and Jerrick Harding, there also seemed to be little concern over who will score points even though the team lost Jeremy Senglin, the school’s career leader in points.

“The offense will be fine,” Baker said. “We’ve got good enough players to put the ball in the hole.”

INJURIES

The Wildcats suffered a flurry of minor injuries over the summer that sidelined players like Braxton, John and Harding for a few weeks. Sophomore center Jordan Dallas was on crutches during media day as he banged knees with John during a pickup game, but he’s expected to be ready before the season starts.

WALK-ONS

Weber State will open this season with four walk-ons. Ben Lomond alum Brenden Morris returns for his third year in the program.

Other walk-ons are: Caleb Leonhardt, a 6-foot-4 Davis High product; Eric Patten, a 6-foot-6 junior college transfer and brother of former Big Sky MVP David; and Alan Lang, a 6-foot-7 forward from Salt Lake’s Judge Memorial High School.

Contact sports reporter Brandon Garside at bgarside@standard.net, on Twitter @BrandonGarside and on Facebook.com/BrandonGarsideSE.

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