Catamounts eager to begin their journey

Western Carolina coaches and players look on during last seasons SoCon tournament. Photo by: Jarrett Frazier

After eight months since their unforgettable run through the SoCon tournament, the catamounts are ready to tip off the season. The last time the catamounts were on the floor they found themselves matched up against the heavily favored Davidson Wildcats. After Western Carolina erased a 12-point deficit in the final two minutes of regulation to force two overtime periods, Davidson finally ended Western Carolina’s season in the SoCon Championship game, but not all was lost.

Being forced to play four games in as many days, and with the majority of the 2011-2012 squad returning for this season, catamount faithful can’t help but be optimistic about the team’s chances of reaching the NCAA tournament.

“Even though we came up short against Davidson in the championship last season, it was a heck of a game and I think the momentum from the SoCon tournament will carry over into this season,” said junior Bobby Zike.

The catamounts are returning 8 players from last season’s roster including four starters. Key players such as Trey Sumler, Tawaski King, and Brandon Boggs are expected to have a large impact this season. Although this season’s roster is similar to the previous in the size aspect with Tawaski King being the tallest player at 6’8, the catamounts will be explosive and capable of putting up great offensive numbers.

“I expect big things from this season. Even though we lost a couple key players like Harouna Mutombo and Keaton Cole, we have a lot of talent returning and I think we have a good chance of having a special season,” said junior Jonathan Pena.

While the catamounts look to have a legitimate shot at snagging the automatic bid to the big dance this season, they certainly have their work cut out for them. Their schedule is by no means a lightweight. With non-conference road games against Wichita State, Illinois, Georgetown and Tennessee, the catamounts will be tested early. The catamounts will also have to deal with a feisty UNC-Asheville team at Kimmel Arena in their season opener in Asheville, NC. Not to mention playing in the very fickle Southern Conference, predicting the final standings is out of the question. The catamounts also have their fair share of tough home conference games including an early December matchup against familiar foes Appalachian St., College of Charleston and the unwelcomed Davidson Wildcats.

The journey will begin for the catamounts Friday, Nov. 9 at 7pm, when they’ll take a 45 minute bus ride to Kimmel Arena for a matchup with the Bulldogs of UNC-Asheville.