Nathan's Notations: Looking forward to this year of WSU sports

My former colleague and last year’s sports editor of The Signpost, Craig Halbasch’s, favorite time of the sporting year was the preseason, before the games actually counted. This is possibly because he is a die-hard Oakland Raiders and New York Mets fan, but lately I’ve been feeling the excitement and hope of an upcoming season.

The 2011-12 year will be a great year for all WSU sport fans. The football and basketball team both have a chance to produce strong seasons. There will be plenty of action and excitement in Wildcat athletics, and I, for one, am feeling the excitement of the preseason.

One of the most exciting things to see will be the completion of the renovations on Stewart Stadium (which will be visited in detail in next week’s issue of The Signpost). The new stadium will feature a turf football field, and a new track will be placed around the field. There should also be plenty of excitement on the field.

The Wildcats had a decent season last year, against a tough conference and non-conference schedule, and while they have lost some players from last year’s team, I think they will be stronger this season. The ‘Cats’ offense will be led by quarterback Mike Hoke. Hoke played in two games last season when Cameron Higgins was injured. Hoke looked good in those games, and continued to play solid football during the spring scrimmage games earlier this year.

WSU’s football team also had a strong recruiting class this spring, which will help fill the holes that were left by key players from last season who have graduated.

The future is also looking bright for the WSU men’s and women’s basketball teams. The men’s team should be the consensus pick to win the Big Sky and have a strong chance of returning to the NCAA National Tournament. Last season, the Wildcats had a tough year and played much of it without star Damian Lillard. Despite not having Lillard, the ‘Cats pulled together and surprised many. They were led by Scott Bamforth’s deadly 3-point shooting. Only two players graduated, so much of the team will be the same this year — except opposing defenses will now have to decide which player to focus on. Should they double-team Lillard, leaving Bamforth more room to shoot? Or double-team Bamforth and give Lillard the chance to slice through the defense?

The women’s team will also be exciting to watch, since they will be in a transitioning period this season. After another losing season, the Wildcats hired a new head coach, Bethann Ord, and have brought in new assistant coaches as well. Only one player graduated from last year’s team, so WSU will hope to build and have a good season this year.

This is going to be a great year for WSU sports, and it will be a fun year to be a Wildcat sports fan. I am enjoying the anticipation and feelings of hope that Halbasch knows so well. Hopefully it will turn out better for WSU than seasons generally do for the teams he supports.