by Zachary Knecht
Featured Image: Photo by Weber State Athletics
Weber State Northern Colorado Preview
The Weber State Wildcats will continue their road trip into Northern Colorado to take on the Bears Monday night. After a thrilling double-overtime victory against Idaho State, the ‘Cats hope to carry over momentum and take advantage of one of the conference’s bottom teams.
The 12-11 ‘Cats come into the Bank of Colorado Arena with a 7-3 record in the Big Sky; the Bears stumble into play on a three-game losing streak, 7-16 overall and 2-9 in the conference.
The Wildcats had the upper hand in the December 29 duel between the two rosters. At the Dee Events Center, Weber State took the contest 81-72 and took advantage of the poor defense of Northern Colorado – ranked last in the conference (78.2 PPG). Dillon Jones was the main Wildcat contributor, scoring 26 points, mainly benefited by his 14-15 from the free-throw line, collecting 13 rebounds en route to a double-double.
Steven Verplancken Jr. joined the action with his 15 points, shooting 40% from the field on 15 shots and limiting his turnovers to one. For a team that isn’t as proficient offensively as some other rosters – ranking last in the Big Sky (66.9 PPG) – they had a productive night against their conference opponent.
Dalton Knecht and Daylen Kountz were the top producers for the Bears in the pre-New Years contest. Knecht shot nine of 18 from the field and reached 22 points on the night; Kountz shot seven of 15, attaining 18 points. Their offense can play with the best of them – ranking sixth in the Big Sky (70.6 PPG) – but their defense falters too often to keep them in many games.
Who to Watch
For the ‘Cats, it would be heresy to have a list of ‘Who to Watch’ without including Jones. The star forward has constantly produced this season and can always be found in pivotal moments. When the lights get brighter, Jones’ game improves, and he has shown us that at every opportunity. He mainly feasted off his free throw attempts in the previous contest against the Bears, but he will certainly make his presence known on the floor Monday night.
Also, watch for Verplancken Jr. The star guard has been less productive as of late, so he will hope to have a bounceback performance against the Bears. He took advantage of their poor defense last time, so this is a perfect team to face to get going again.
For the Bears, Knecht is a threat like no other in the Big Sky. The star guard is the only player in the conference to average over 20 points (20.1 PPG), and the ‘Cats need to contain his production as their top priority. He had a night in the Dee Events Center, and his game is sure to elevate in front of his home crowd.
Continue the Positive
The Wildcats will be looking to have a repeat performance against the Bears. Essentially, everything worked for Weber State, shooting better for the field and outrebounding their opponent, so they hope to see that through again. Their 22-26 from the free-throw line also gave their offense a massive boost in productivity.
They need to improve their three-point defense, though. The Bears feasted from deep last time around, hitting ten of their 24 attempts, so the ‘Cats need to improve their defensive game plan. Weber State sports the conference’s second-ranked defense (67.1 PPG), so they have the tools to execute and play with the best of them.
The Wildcats will enter Northern Colorado at 9 pm MST to battle the Bears in what should be a good game.
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