OGDEN -- The Firebirds are coming to town just when the Wildcats need to heat up.
Weber State will take on Saint Katherine College tonight at 7 p.m. at the Dee Events Center. The Firebirds have never been to Ogden before; in fact, the tiny NAIA school from Encinitas, Calif., -- enrollment 102 -- is in its first season of organized basketball.
Looking at a 1-4 record and coming off a 62-59 loss at Utah Valley last week, Weber State coach Randy Rahe is looking for his team to get much tougher, regardless of opponent.
With another slightly more well-known team from southern California on the schedule next -- UCLA -- the Wildcats need a tune-up.
"We haven't earned anything yet," Rahe said. "We haven't earned the right to look down on anybody. We're fighting to try to become a better basketball team; we aren't at the point where we can look at any team and say, oh yeah, we're going to take it easy on this one.
"No matter who the opponent is, we've got to come out and do the things we worked on in practice to try to get better and become a good basketball team. As I told our guys, if you want to look down on anybody or anything, you probably don't get to play (tonight). You better be ready to go."
Rahe wants a tougher team and may send a message by shaking up his starting lineup.
"There might be a change or two," he said. "I'm going to decide (today) what I'm going to do."
Toughness has been a defining characteristic of Rahe's best teams and if this year's team is going to compete for the Big Sky title as expected, it must be developed.
"It's what we've been all about -- toughness and togetherness and guys that want to take the harder path to be successful and not the easier path," Rahe said. "The easier path is the one soft guys take; we've always been the other way around here. Basically, we've got to do the tough things in practice for them to understand how important is, but they've got to embrace it on their own. That's the only thing that's going to give them a chance, by doing the hard things, the little things: Boxing out, screening, diving on the floor for a loose ball, staying in stance the whole possession. Those are the tough things that winning things take care of."
Weber State is one of four teams in the country to have played fewer than six games, but at least the Wildcats will have four of their next five at home.
Saint Katherine College (2-7) recently snapped a six-game losing streak with a win over Pacifica College but lost 89-37 to Utah Valley on Dec. 7 in what counted as an exhibition contest for them. The Firebirds are also scheduled to face the University of Utah on Dec. 28 in their third trip to the state.
Contact sports writer Roy Burton at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @RoyBurtonSE.