OGDEN -- Weber State basketball coach Randy Rahe isn't about to let his team forget what's been gnawing at him for the past two seasons.
He's tired of finishing second in the Big Sky Conference, watching Montana taking the top prize.
In reality, second place gnaws at players, coaching staff and fans alike.
"We just don't like it," Rahe said at Weber State's media day event held at the Dee Events Center on Wednesday. "The kids, on one hand, the last couple years, have had terrific seasons. We've just been one game short. That sticks in your craw. We remind our guys of it all the time, I remind this group of it a lot. We won 30 games last year, but we're still one game short of what we wanted to do. I'm proud of them for winning 30 games, it's a school record, Big Sky record, all those kind of things, but we all want that other prize."
Aside from the Big Sky regular season championship, that other prize is a trip to the NCAA Tournament. WSU has played postseason basketball in each of the last five years, including an appearance in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament championship game last season that helped the Wildcats achieve the 30-win mark, but they haven't been to the Big Dance since 2007, Rahe's first season.
"It's hard," Rahe said. "I told our guys, if that can't motivate you to get your butt out here and work hard every day and improve yourself, improve your team, I don't know what will. We're a little tired of it."
Though the Wildcats have been holding team workouts, their first official practice of the 2013-14 season will be Friday.
Rahe's teams won Big Sky titles three out of his first four seasons. Entering his eighth year at Weber State, he'd like to add more.
"We'd like to get back up there," he said. "When I first got here, I wanted to build the program to where we are contending for a championship every year. That was my main goal. I feel like we've gotten to that point. We won the league three out of four years at one time and now we've come up short the last couple of years. Obviously, as a program, we want to get back to being on top."
Standing in the Wildcats' way, once again, will be Montana, the team that has knocked WSU out of the Big Sky tournament in each of the past four seasons.
"You've got to take your hat off to Montana; they've had their two best teams in school history," he said. "We got 14-2 (in conference) and finish second. We go 18-2 and finish second. They go 15-1 and win it, they go 19-1 and win it. It's totally amazing. So you take your hat off to 'em; don't like it much, but you've got to respect what they did. They had the perfect storm of recruiting and did a great job. We want to try to get that back."
WSU returns first-team all-Big Sky guard/forward Davion Berry and second-team center Kyle Tresnak from last year's 30-7 team, along with starting point guard Jordan Richardson, all three seniors. Sophomore forward Joel Bolomboy came off the bench to be the fourth-leading rebounder in the league as a freshman. Guard/forward Royce Williams, forward Byron Fulton and center James Hajek also provided depth, though Hajek is out until mid-December with an injury.
Scott Bamforth, the school's all-time leading 3-point shooter (258 career 3s) and a member of WSU's 50 greatest players list, and forward Frank "Mook" Otis are gone to graduation, as is guard Gelaun Wheelwright, who left the team late in the summer.
The Wildcats have several newcomers who are expected to contribute, including two freshman guards, Jeremy Senglin and Richaud Gittens. Forward Kyndahl Hill redshirted last year and is also a freshman, as is forward Josh Fuller, who signed with the University of Utah but transferred to WSU after serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
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