Team preview: Western Michigan

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(Information in this team report is as of October 1.)

Not even Kent State has won as many games the last three seasons as Western Michigan.

The Broncos have won 66 games and are winning at a rate (69.5 percent) unsurpassed in Kalamazoo since the early 1940s. Western has received a postseason bid each year (NIT-2003, NCAA-2004, NIT-2005), bringing to six the total number of postseason bids in school history.

Thanks to a highly touted recruiting class, there is a chance to extend this string in 2005-06.

After last season, WMU almost lost coach Steve Hawkins to DePaul when the Blue Demons sought a successor to Dave Leito. Hawkins, who took over for Robert McCullum (now at USF), has fashioned a 46-18 mark in two years and is now under contract through 2009-10.

Coming into last season, the Broncos had graduated MAC Player of the Year Mike Williams and all-conference post player in Anthony Kann. The challenge this season is to replace two of the league's top-10 players in guard Ben Reed (first-team All-MAC) and small forward Levi Rost (second-team All-MAC). They fueled Western's 20-13 record and NIT win at Marquette.

"A couple of years ago the question was, 'How in the world are you going to replace [point guard] Robby Collum,'' Hawkins said. "Then last year it was, 'How are you going to replace Mike Williams.' Now we are being asked the same questions about Ben Reed and Levi Rost."

Reed was Western Michigan basketball. A native of Battle Creek, Mich., Reed lit up MAC opponents for four seasons and finished with 1,668 career points. Rost had a breakout senior year and averaged 16.5 points per game.