Two players from Alaska's high school championship team and a junior college transfer who played for Weber State as a freshman have signed to join the Wildcat basketball program for the 1991-92 season.
New Weber State University Coach Ron Abegglen has also selected two assistant coaches, retaining Jim Mossel, 41, who served for three seasons under former coach Denny Huston, and hiring Mark Coffman, 32, an assistant at Oakland University in Michigan the past four seasons.And the Wildcats have announced their schedule for Abegglen's first season as coach. It includes a date with the Big Ten's Minnesota plus the startup of the school's Military Tournament in November. That will bring in Army, The Citadel and Virginia Military.
Abegglen closely followed the high school careers of Jason Kaiser, a 6-foot-5, 180-pound guard-forward and Jeff Lentfer, a 6-8, 225-pound forward-center when he coached at Alaska-Anchorage before taking the Weber State job a month ago. The two led Service High in Anchorage to a 23-4 record, Kaiser averaging 23 points, nine rebounds and four assists. Lentfer, who was selected Alaska Sports writers' Player of the Year, averaged 19 points and 14 rebounds. Both are excellent students, Kaiser with a 3.5 GPA and Lentfer 3.75.
"Jason is an excellent long-range shooter and has the ball handling skills of a point guard. Jeff is a smart, physical player. He will be our biggest, strongest player next season on the frontline, so I expect he may see more playing time than most freshmen. The more confidence he gets, the more of a force he will become." Abegglen said.
Mike Sivulich, a 6-0, 170 guard out of Utah Valley Community College will rejoin the team. Sivulich averaged 14 points and eight assists per game last season for the Wolverines and Coach Duke Reid. The former Bonneville High standout played for the Wildcats in 1989-90, after returning from a two-year LDS Church Mission to the Dominican Republic.
"Mike, like his father, is a tough competitor," said Abegglen. "He really understands the game. The year in junior college gave him the playing time he needed to get his game back into shape."
Besides his court abilities, Sivulich excels in the classroom. His year at WSU, he earned a 3.71 in Business Management and was named to the Big Sky Conference All-Academic team.
Abegglen is still pursuing a couple of big men and hopes to have another signing announcement before the end of the week.
Abegglen said he interviewed a lot of candidates for the assistant positions before making his choices.
"Administration, faculty and the players were all very supportive of Mossel," Abegglen said. He said Mossel has done well tracking players' academic progress, knows the league and has recruiting ties in the Pacific Northwest and California. Mossel coached six seasons at Grays Harbor (Wash.) Community College and is a native of Santa Monica, Calif.
Abegglen said he's known Coffman for five years and nearly hired him when he was at Alaska. Abegglen likes his recruiting familiarity with the Midwest and Texas, "which is where we want to expand," Abegglen said. Coffman was born in Mishawaka, Ind., but grew up in Las Cruces, N.M.
Fans may meet the new staff at a social Wednesday, 5-6:30 p.m., at Ogden Park Hotel.
Abegglen said the new schedule is aggressive. "We don't want to back down from anyone. In a nine-day period, we play at Brigham Young, at Minnesota, have Christmas vacation, then play Utah at home and Utah State on the road."
Weber State men's basketball schedule
NOVEMBER: 7 - Purple/White intra-squad; 11 - Foreign team; 13 - Fellowship of Christian Athletes; 22 - St. Mary's (Calif.) College; 26 - Gonzaga; 29-30 - Military Tournament (Army/Citadel/Virginia Military/Weber State).
DECEMBER: 7 - Utah State; 14 - at Southern Utah; 16 - Oral Roberts; 21 - at Brigham Young; 23 - at Minnesota; 28 - Utah; 30 - at Utah State.
JANUARY: 2 - *at Montana; 4 - *at Montana State; 9 - *Nevada; 11 - *Northern Arizona; 16 - *at Boise State; 18 - *at Idaho; 23 - *at Eastern Washington.
FEBRUARY: 1 - *Idaho State; 6 - *Montana State; 8 - *Montana; 13 - *at Northern Arizona; 15 - *at Nevada; 20 - *Idaho; 22 - *Boise State; 29 - *Eastern Washington.
MARCH: 7 - *at Idaho State; 12-14 - Big Sky Tournament.
*Big Sky Conference games
Home games at 7:30 p.m.