OGDEN -- The Weber State men’s basketball team is a heavy favorite to win the 2013-14 Big Sky Conference title, according to the preseason media and coaches polls released Thursday by the conference. It is the fifth time in the last six years the Wildcats have been selected as the conference preseason favorite.
Head coach Randy Rahe’s Wildcats were a unanimous selection in the coaches poll, picking up 10 first place votes and totaling 100 total points. North Dakota was picked second with 86 points and Montana was third with one first place vote and 84 points. The Grizzlies have won the Big Sky title in each of the past two seasons. Northern Colorado came in fourth followed by Eastern Washington, Montana State and Sacramento State.
The Wildcats were also first in the media poll, receiving 31 of the 34 first place votes and totaling 370 points. Montana had three first place votes and came in second in the media poll with 322 points. North Dakota was third at 308 points, followed by Northern Colorado, Montana State, Eastern Washington and Northern Arizona.
“It’s always an honor for our team to be picked first,” Rahe said. “We always have high expectations for our team, regardless of the polls. I’ve always felt that after today the polls really don’t mean anything because you have to prove it on the court. We’re so far away from that right now, and being at that level is hard to comprehend. We have so much work to do, and so many young players trying to get in the fold. Time will tell, but I think we have some nice pieces.”
Weber State is coming off one of the most memorable seasons in school and Big Sky history last year. The Wildcats set a school and conference record by posting 30 wins, finishing the year 30-7. WSU advanced to the championship game of the Collegeinsider.com Tournament, becoming the first team in Big Sky history to reach the championship game of a national postseason tournament. The Wildcats finished second in the Big Sky standings, posting an 18-2 record in league play, and advanced to the Big Sky Championship game for the third time in the last four years. WSU has won 10 or more conference games for seven straight seasons, a Big Sky record.
Weber State finished the season first in the country in field goal percentage and first in three-point field goal percentage. The ‘Cats were also second in the nation in three-point field goal percentage defense and finished the top 10 in the nation in six statistical categories. WSU won a school record 17 home games and posted the best season attendance average in 17 years.
The Wildcats return seven letterwinners off last year’s squad that won 30 games. WSU has four seniors returning that have combined to play in 438 career games at Weber State. Davion Berry earned first team All-Big Sky and All-District honors last year and was named Big Sky Newcomer of the Year. Senior Kyle Tresnak returns for his fourth year with the Wildcats after earning Second Team All-Conference honors last year.
Coach Rahe returns for his eighth season as head coach of the Wildcats. In seven years he has led WSU to three Big Sky Championships and six post-season tournament appearances. He has also been named Big Sky Coach of the Year three times and has coached four Big Sky MVP’s, including All-American Damian Lillard, the 2013 NBA Rookie of the Year.
Rahe has a career record of 150-75 overall at Weber State and is 92-24 in Big Sky Conference games. He has led the Wildcats to 20 or more wins in five of seven seasons with the team, and has won 25 or more games in each of the past two seasons. He is currently fifth in Big Sky history for career conference coaching wins and needs just three more wins to move into fourth place.
The Wildcats will hold the annual Purple and White scrimmage on Wednesday, Oct. 23 at 7 p.m. at the Dee Events Center. Weber State will play an exhibition game on Nov. 2 against Adams State. The 2013-14 regular season will begin Nov. 8 at BYU. The home opener will be Nov. 26 against Utah State.
Season tickets for Wildcat basketball are on sale now at the WSU Ticket Office or by visiting WeberStateTickets.com.