Shooting for a season of hoops and hopes

Koby McEwen hitting into a Sac State player while getting around him. (Kennedy Camarena/ The Signpost)

With the new season beginning in just a month, the Wildcats hope to come out of the gate strong with new players and a new head coach.

The Wildcats previously had an overall record of 21–12 in the 2021-22. The season ended with the Wildcats losing to Montana State in the semifinals of the Big Sky Tournament.

Former coach Randy Rahe officially retired, making long-time assistant coach Eric Duft the new head coach. Duft spent 16 years under Rahe and is now the basketball program’s 10th head coach in history.

“Coach Rahe did a great job preparing us staff,” Duft said. “He gave us a lot of responsibility, and that makes it a much easier job learning under him and his mentorship. It just made it way easier to move over into that chair.”

As if being a first-time head coach isn’t enough, Duft has a lot on his plate with many new incoming players joining the team. Looking to rebuild their roster, Duft said they added a lot of shooting this year that will add more space on the floor, and they can devise a system so everyone will fit into what they’re trying to do.

One incoming player Keith Dinwiddie Jr. transferred from San Diego State University and now, as a sophomore, hopes to add his skills to the team. He said that what he brings to the team is defense. He feels he can guard anyone anywhere, which is his strength. Dinwiddie said that his dream is to be a part of the NBA and he wanted to join a program that valued him.

Aside from some new players, we also have returning players who have been with the program for a few years.

Forward Dillon Jones is going into his sophomore year and is ready for the season to get started.

“We understand that the war is won right now, not when the lights are on in November, whenever we start playing,” Jones said. “I think, right now, we’re preparing ourselves for that, and I think we’ve looked really good.”

Jones said the team has to build their foundation so they can be ready for whoever they play this upcoming season.

According to Jones, one attribute they added to the team was that last year they had shooters mainly off the dribble, and this year they have a lot more players that can catch and shoot.

The Wildcats lost some seniors last year, a big part of their leadership. Zahir Porter, a returning player and senior, hopes to be a leader of the team.

“The last two seasons, I played, like, a back seat role, you would say, so I didn’t have to say that much,” Porter said. “But this being my third year in Division l, I would say I have enough experience to give something to the younger guys and just give them a little insight.”

Porter has been doing a lot of work this offseason, hoping to improve his jumper and strengthen his game going into his final season.

Alongside Duft, new roles and faces to the program include Jorge Ruiz, who was named an assistant coach after being the program’s Director of Operations for four seasons, and Dan Russell, who came to Weber State from Montana State after working as an assistant coach for three seasons.

The Wildcats hit the road to Seattle for their first game of the season against the University of Washington on Nov. 7.