Men's basketball to face road gauntlet to end season

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(Photo by Kaitlyn Johnson)
Weber State University freshman Richaud Gittens drives the ball in a game earlier this season. The Wildcats face Idaho State University on Monday.

After playing eight of its first 12 games at home this conference season, the Weber State University men’s basketball team will head out on the road for six of its last eight. Four of those games, including last night’s, will be over the next two weeks.

“It’s going to be big for us,” said WSU senior Jordan Richardson on Saturday. “We are going to take it one game at a time. We have  road games on Thursday and Monday. We just have to keep plugging away and staying focused. Those games are going to take care of themselves.”

After facing Southern Utah University on Thursday, the Wildcats will head to Pocatello to take on Idaho State University. The Bengals are near the bottom of the Big Sky Conference in terms of record, but that didn’t stop them at the Dee Events Center. They took the Wildcats down to the wire and fell by just six points in the final minute on free throws.

“We take pride in winning close games around here,” said WSU head coach Randy Rahe. “Our motto is you can’t kill us — you can’t keep us down. You are going to have to kill us to beat us. I think that throughout the years, (our seniors) have taken that to heart and they’ve taught that to our young guys. We are never out of it.”

Just as the Wildcats improved after four weeks when they faced the University of Northern Colorado, WSU expects to face challenges and improved teams in every rematch it has.

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(Photo by Kaitlyn Johnson)
Weber State University senior Jordan Richardson drives the ball in a game earlier this season. Richardson, along with the other WSU guards, has shot well of late from beyond the arc.

“All the teams are improving,” said WSU senior Kyle Tresnak. “That happens throughout conference. We just refocus ourselves before each game and we never get comfortable.”

After defeating UNC last week, the Wildcats stand at 10-2 in the conference, owning a three-game lead over UNC and the University of Montana. But the Wildcats aren’t selecting the spot for their title banner quite yet.

“We never get comfortable, especially in conference,” Tresnak said. “You can never overlook anyone. You can never be comfortable and complacent. You have to have a chip on your shoulder and an edge to you to be able to be successful throughout the conference season.”

The Wildcats are preaching the old adage. It’s just one game at a time for them, especially on the road.

“There is going to be some fun basketball,” Tresnak said. “That road gauntlet is going to be tough, but when isn’t it tough? You have to have the right mindset and take one game at a time, and that’s what we’ll do.”

Rahe came into the week with 102 Big Sky Conference wins, tying him for second-most of all time. He is tied with Bobby Dye, former head coach at Boise State University, a former Big Sky member. Rahe shook off the news with a smile.

“I didn’t even know about it, and I don’t think about it,” he said. “All I want is No. 103.”

Rahe needs just 22 more Big Sky wins to jump over former Montana State University head coach Mick Durham, who holds the all-time record of 123 wins. Rahe is 102-26 in conference play, nearly a winning percentage of 80 percent.