College basketball fans in Utah may recognize Dayton primarily as the site of the NCAA Tournament's First Four or as the home of America's most famous fliers -- Orville and Wilbur Wright.
Though Weber State and the University of Dayton have never played, Wildcats coach Randy Rahe is familiar with the Flyers from the Atlantic 10 Conference.
"I've been coaching 21 years," Rahe said, "I know Dayton, I know what kind of program they have. It's a great program. They've got a great tradition of good basketball and this year is no different."
Dayton is 4-1, with its only loss coming to undefeated No. 23 Colorado.
Weber State will be wrapping up a three-game road stretch with one of its farthest journeys back East in recent years -- a trip that Rahe says, like the other two games to date away from the Dee Events Center, is designed to test the Wildcats.
The Flyers often sell out University of Dayton Arena, where they will face Weber State today at 5 p.m. Dayton has had an attendance of at least 11,000 fans for 204 consecutive regular season home games.
"It's one of the reasons we scheduled the game is because we knew it was going to be a really tough environment," he said. "I wanted to put our guys in a tough situation where you've got to travel two time zones and then you've got to get ready to play and against a really good basketball team on their court in front of 10,000 (people)."
So far Weber State (1-2) has come home from two road games -- an overtime loss at San Jose State and an in-state scrum with Utah State -- with lessons learned but not Ws.
"We're starting to form an identity," Rahe said. "We've put some guys in some tough spots like I've talked about and we're either going to get tough and together, and learn how to compete in a tough environment, or we won't. I'm seeing signs that we are."
The Wildcats have grown, but need improvement.
"We've got to play better in some areas," Rahe said. "We've got to play better offensively, we've got to make more shots, finish our free throws. That stuff will come but right now, we're finding out that we do have a team that'll fight ya."
Dayton is led by A-10 preseason all-first teamer Kevin Dillard, a senior guard who averages 15.2 points and 5.3 assists per game.
Thanks to former Weber State point guard Damian Lillard's selection in the first round of the 2012 NBA Draft, play-by-play announcers for both teams will dodge the conundrum of a Dillard-Lillard matchup.
Junior forward Davion Berry, another Oakland, Calif., native like Lillard, has taken the reins as Weber State's early scoring leader, averaging 16.3 points per game, second among Big Sky players, while junior Jordan Richardson is averaging 10.7 points and 3.7 assists per game while taking the reins at point guard.
WSU's two seniors, forward Frank Otis and shooting guard Scott Bamforth, are also among its statistical leaders. Otis is WSU's top rebounder at 7.0 boards per game and also contributes 9.7 ppg, while Bamforth averages scoring 9.0 ppg and is tied with Richardson at 3.7 assists per game.
Junior forward Byron Fulton, who has not yet played this season after having his right knee scoped in early November, is expected to be available for action.
Bamforth said Weber State's early games have shown him the Wildcats have the potential to be a tough team.
"We can be when we want to be and we play hard," he said. "We do it for stretches -- five minutes, seven minutes -- but we need to play a whole half like that, maybe two halves, put it together."
Like Rahe, Bamforth believes the team's offensive execution will come with experience.
"For me personally, everybody's new except for a couple of guys," he said. "It's just timing for me, when I'm going to get the ball, me making shots and me getting other people shots. It comes with playing with each other more. I think that will come in the future. Hopefully it's this next game."