Deep and seasoned, the Cougars are out to prove that a record-setting season was no fluke
During a June tour of Australia and New Zealand, the Cougars' players and coaches got an invitation to try the "reverse bungee," an attraction that catapults daredevils nearly 200 feet upward. One of the two players who took a pass on the thrill ride was 6' 6" senior guard Kyle Weaver. "Me and heights don't really get along," he explains, "so I stayed on the ground and cheered my teammates on."
Grounded would also describe Weaver's approach to this season, even as he and the Cougars -- 10 of whom return from a group that won a school-record-tying 26 games last year -- draw a dizzying array of accolades, attention and expectations. "We're not a bunch of guys who are used to a lot of hype," says Weaver, who along with backcourtmate and fellow senior Derrick Low played on the 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 to prove."
Weaver is an acrobatic slasher who, coming out of Beloit (Wis.) Memorial High, had just one other Division I scholarship offer, from Bradley. He certainly proved his worth last season. He was ranked in the top six in the Pac-10 in five categories, 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 he had 14 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists in a 71-68 overtime loss at Stanford. "The strength of his game is his versatility," says second-year coach Tony Bennett. "He can score in the post, he can handle, he can defend, he can block shots."
While the Cougars will miss the low-post presence of Ivory Clark, who graduated last spring, they will have experience -- three of their top four returning scorers are seniors -- and also will be fueled by the skepticism of some prognosticators concerning the team's lofty preseason expectations. With all of those factors in play, the sky-shy Weaver can hope that in this case at least, there is nowhere for the Cougars to go but up. -- Kelli Anderson
Issue date: November 19, 2007