New year, new coach for Rustler basketballOct 6, 2013 By Bruce Tippets, Sports Editor
New coach Pat Rafferty has the basketball bouncing for the Central Wyoming College men's program.
The first day of practice for the 2013-14 basketball season was Tuesday at Rustler Gym.
Rafferty was hired in June after CWC didn't rehire former head coach Shelby Lindley.
Rafferty came to the Rustlers after he was the director of basketball operations last year at the University of Texas-Arlington.
Before his time at Texas-Arlington, Rafferty was the head coach at Grayson College in Dennison, Texas.
The new players signed by Rafferty are from all over the United States.
"Everything is new to all of them," Rafferty said. "I'm learning about them, and they are learning about me. Establishing this culture is part of the transition. We are progressing. We are learning how to practice hard and at a high level."
Rafferty has scheduled an intersquad scrimmage for Thursday, Oct. 17, at Lander High School.
The second scrimmage is Thursday, Oct. 22, at Wyoming Indian High School in Ethete.
Both scrimmages start at 7 p.m.
"For the most part, the players arrived in decent condition," Rafferty said. "Some better than others. We're definitely not in game shape right now. That's part of the transition to a new culture as well. It's important to play this game at a high level. You have to be in great shape physically and mentally."
The four returning CWC players for Rafferty are Ryan Nemelka (6-0), Roozario Wiggins (6-3), David Baety (6-5) and Isaiah Tademy (6-5).
All four helped CWC become a power last year in the Region IX conference.
The Rustlers ended the year at 23-7.
"They are becoming a big part of that culture," Rafferty said.
CWC's first-year players are Damarcus Richardson (5-8), Matt Johnson (6-3), Eimer Lopez (6-4), Bryce Canda (6-3), Rickey Norris (6-2), Daryl Morgan (6-3), Parker Russell (6-2), Jairo Lopez (6-3), Elijah Sanders (6-6), Blake Cleravinga (6-3) and Malik Wilson (6-6).
"It's a transition for all kids when they leave high school and go to college," Rafferty said.
Johnson was a member of the Evanston High School basketball team last season. Evanston beat Riverton High School in the Class 4-A title game at the Casper Events Center.
"I love the culture of the basketball team at this stage," Rafferty said.
"This guys are really going to work hard. There are kids that are going to buy into what we are about."
Rafferty is pleased with the size on his roster.
"Size can be overrated some," Rafferty said. "Our size is going to be fine because of the way that we can play."
The season starts on Friday, Nov. 1, when CWC takes on College of Southern Idaho on the road.
"Our schedule is really tough," Rafferty said. "We are going to be tested. That is the hand that we were dealt.
We will grow for it."
The only home game in the first month is Monday, Nov. 25, with Planet Athlete Academy at Rustler Gym.
CWC's 2013-14 men's basketball roster, with name, height, year and hometown
Damarcus Richardson, 5-8, freshman, Chicago, Ill; Matt Johnston, 6-3, freshman, Evanston; Eimer Lopez, 6-4, freshman, Portland, Ore; Ryan Nemelka, 6-0, sophomore, Sandy, Utah; Bryce Canda, 6-3, freshman, Portland, Ore; Rickey Norris, 6-2, freshman, Chicago, Ill., Daryl Morgan, Jr., 6-3, freshman, Tinley Park, Ill., Parker Russell, 6-2, freshman, Magna, Utah; Jairo Lopez, 6-3, freshman, Portland, Ore; Elijah Sanders, 6-6, freshman, Lacy, Wash, David Baety, 6-5, Orlando, Fla., Blake Cleravinga, 6-3, freshman, Lehi, Utah; Roozario Wiggins, 6-3, sophomore, Shreveport, La., Isaiah Tademy, 6-5, sophomore, Salt Lake City, Utah; Malik Wilson, 6-6, freshman, Maple Grove, Minn.