Coaches coach; players play.
That’s the old adage in the sports world, accurate albeit redundant.
You could add another line: Players always want to play more.
For Weber State coach Randy Rahe, that was both the justification and the redeeming quality of Saturday’s 110-45 decimation of NAIA school University of the Southwest at home, a 65-point margin of victory that was the largest in school history.
WSU’s second unit players each got significant minutes in the second half as the Wildcats’ bench outscored the Mustangs 56-22 — everyone played at least 14 minutes and everyone in the game scored.
Weber State also outrebounded Southwest 44-19 and shot nearly 70 percent from the field, including 12 of 22 from deep, while limiting the severely overmatched Mustangs to 28.8 percent shooting.
Rahe said his backups deserved the playing time.
“I thought it was really good, for the most part, getting some guys court time that needed to get some court time,” he said.
“We talked about, after we got going and jumped up on them a little bit, our whole thing was we’re just going to play the possession, not the score. Just focus on playing that possession, whatever end if is, defense, offense, just play that possession as well as you can play it.
“I thought our kids did that. It’s easy to look at the score and say, yeah, I don’t know about this, and we didn’t do that. That’s discipline on our kids’ part to do that.”
Royce Williams, who was averaging nearly 11 minutes and 2.3 points per game, scored a career-high 17 points and went 7 for 8, 2 of 2 from 3-point range, in 26 minutes off the bench.
“It feels good to get out there,” Williams said. “Coach Rahe always told me to be ready. I don’t always get as many minutes as I would like and he told me to just keep my head in it and make sure I’m ready when the team needs me. I just wanted to make sure I was ready for my guys.”
Rahe said it was important to him to schedule a game to give the lesser-used players more opportunities.
“These kids work hard every day in practice,” he said. “The nature of basketball is not everybody gets to play as much as other guys. It bothers me as a coach when I don’t get to play guys as much. I know it hurts the kids, I know they want to play. It bothers me but I also know it’s the nature of basketball; we’re going to do what it takes to win. These guys deserve the chance to go out there and show what they can do.”
A blowout against an NAIA school was that chance.
“It was good to get (Byron) Fulton some more minutes. It was good to get Royce Williams more, Wayne Bradford, James Hajek a few more,” Rahe said, and he was pleased with how the bench responded. “We’re going to need those guys, we just are.”
Fulton, a 6-foot-7 junior forward who earned the 2010-11 Big Sky freshman of the year award, had his knee scoped in November and has found it hard to crack WSU’s post rotation since his return.
“Physically, (Fulton) is much better,” Rahe said. “I wouldn’t say he’s totally back, but he’s a lot closer. To be honest with you, it’s not anything that he’s doing, but it’s more our rotations, they kind of got set a little bit and the kids that are playing a little bit ahead of him are playing well.”
Fulton got a chance in WSU’s overtime win over Portland State and was ready to help the team, Rahe said.
“I still go into every game thinking we’re going to play Byron Fulton,” he said, “and each game dictates something different.”
Junior center Kyle Tresnak did not play in Saturday’s contest after spraining his ankle in practice last Wednesday, allowing Hajek the start in what Rahe described as a precaution against a weaker team..
“Had this been a conference game (Saturday versus Southwest), he probably could have played some, but there’s no reason to push it now,” Rahe said. “We needed to get him a little bit of rest, but I think he should be more than fine in the next couple, three days for sure.”
WSU, which is 2-0 in the Big Sky Conference after a road sweep of Eastern Washington and Portland State the previous week, will return to league action Thursday and Saturday at home at the Dee Events Center against Northern Colorado and Big Sky newcomer North Dakota.
Roy Burton covers Weber State sports for the Standard-Examiner. Follow @RoyBurton on Twitter, read more about the Wildcats at blogs.standard.net/wsu-sports-blog or reach him at email@example.com.