During a June tourof Australia and New Zealand, the Cougars' players and coaches got aninvitation to try the "reverse bungee," an attraction that catapultsdaredevils nearly 200 feet upward. One of the two players who took a pass onthe thrill ride was 6' 6" senior guard Kyle Weaver. "Me and heightsdon't really get along," he explains, "so I stayed on the ground andcheered my teammates on."
Grounded wouldalso describe Weaver's approach to this season, even as he and the Cougars--10of whom return from a group that won a school-record-tying 26¬†games lastyear--draw a dizzying array of accolades, attention and expectations."We're not a bunch of guys who are used to¬†a lot of hype," saysWeaver, who along with backcourtmate and fellow senior Derrick Low played onthe Pan Am team this summer and made the Wooden Award watch list last month."We're still a bunch of guys who are hungry, who have something toprove."
Weaver is anacrobatic slasher who, coming out of Beloit (Wis.) Memorial High, had just oneother Division I scholarship offer, from Bradley. He certainly proved his worthlast season. He was ranked in the top¬†six in the Pac-10 in fivecategories, including steals (second, 2.2¬†per game); assists (third, 4.6);assist-to-turnover ratio (fourth, 1.7); blocks (sixth, 1.2) and minutes (sixth,33.9). Weaver also became the first Cougar to register a triple double,when hehad 14¬†points, 13¬†rebounds and 10¬†assists in a 71-68 overtimeloss at Stanford. "The strength of his game is his versatility," sayssecond-year coach Tony Bennett. "He can score in the post, he can handle,he can defend, he can block shots."
While the Cougarswill miss the low-post presence of Ivory Clark, who graduated last spring, theywill have experience--three of their top four returning scorers areseniors--and also will be fueled by the skepticism of some prognosticatorsconcerning the team's lofty preseason expectations. With all of those factorsin play, the sky-shy Weaver can hope that in this case at least, there isnowhere for the Cougars to go but¬†up.
6'7"Jr.8.9 ppg2.9 rpg
Nov. 9 EasternWashington (W 68-41)
Nov. 13 at BoiseState
Nov. 16 Idaho
Nov. 24 Miss.Valley State*
Nov. 25 AirForce*
Nov. 30 atBaylor
Dec. 9 PortlandState
Dec. 20 TheCitadel (in¬†Seattle)
Dec. 23 at IdahoState
Dec. 28 NorthCarolina A&T
Impressive: The Cougars found eight opponents in the sparsely populatedNorthwest corner. Not so impressive: Only one of those teams, Gonzaga, shouldpresent a formidable challenge. That game could be an epic chapter in ablooming rivalry (WSU won last season to end a seven-game losing streak to theZags), but it doesn't balance an otherwise ho-hum slate.
Coach Tony Bennett(2nd year)
Pac-10 record 13-5(2nd)
NCAA tournament2nd round
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The versatile Weaver was in the top six in five categories in the Pac-10 lastyear.