For the sixth consecutive season, Weber State men’s basketball is set for another in-season tournament that has become a staple for WSU to gain quick experience and play good opponents early in the season.
This time, the Wildcats (1-2) return to the Gulf Coast Showcase in Estero, Florida, for three games in three days starting at 3 p.m. MST today against Wright State.
Including Weber State, the showcase field of eight mid-major schools from eight conferences includes four teams picked to be first or second in their conference, two that went to the NCAA Tournament last season and another that went to the NIT. It also features the nation’s leading scorer in Northeastern’s Jordan Roland.
“This is one of the better tournaments we’ve been in,” WSU head coach Randy Rahe said. “It’s one of those tournaments that maybe some of our fans are going to look at the teams and say, ‘well I don’t know who Wright State is, I don’t know who Northeastern is or South Alabama or Murray State.’ The coaching fraternity knows how good they are.
“This is a high-level, mid-major tournament. You’ve got to be invited to go to it, they only take certain mid-major programs.”
Rahe said he likes the revelatory nature of in-season tournaments.
“You find out a whole bunch about your team. You find your strengths, you’re exposed to your weaknesses and it really reveals you quickly. You don’t have a lot of time to adjust when you’re down there playing. You find out combinations, who plays better together,” Rahe said.
“You find out your toughness. You’ve got to play three games in three days. You’ve got to wake up the next morning, prepare fast, lock in to preparation and then go out and execute it. You find out the mental capacity of your team. Are they ready to bounce back, whether you win or lose, are you ready to go the next game?”
The eight-team field is set up in a bracket format, which means matchups and game times are not predetermined for each team.
Weber State opens with Wright State (Horizon League, Dayton, Ohio) at 3 p.m. MST today.
The Wildcats will play either Murray State or La Salle on Tuesday, either at 11:30 a.m. or at 5:30 p.m., depending on results.
WSU’s final game will be Wednesday. The bracket can be viewed at GulfCoastShowcase.com.
HOW TO WATCH
The tournament is streamed online at FloHoops.com, a subscription service. A monthly subscription costs $29.99.
Weber State and Steve Klauke will have radio calls for each game on 1430 AM KLO and online at kloradio.com.
Weber State returns to the Gulf Coast Showcase after winning the event in 2015 by defeating Central Michigan, Drake and Murray State, the latter two also participants this year.
In the last five tournaments, WSU has winning records in two, winning this event in 2015 and going 2-1 last season at the Junkanoo Jam in The Bahamas.
The other three tournament appearances all resulted in 1-2 records.
Here’s a look at the tournament field, in alphabetical order.
DRAKE: The Bulldogs are 3-1 this season against Division I opponents and rate at 127 in Ken Pomeroy‘s ratings. Drake went 24-10 last season, was picked to finish fifth in the Missouri Valley this season, and returns sophomore DJ Wilkins, who was named to the MVC preseason third team. He’s averaging 9.0 points per game this season; sophomore 7-footer Liam Robbins leads Drake at 13.0 ppg.
LA SALLE: The Explorers are 1-2 against D-I opponents this season and were picked to finish 10th in the Atlantic 10 this season after finishing 10-21 last year. Junior guard David Beatty leads the team at 10 points per game this season, with three more players averaging 7.7 ppg.
MIAMI-OHIO: The RedHawks are 2-1 against D-I teams and were picked to finish fourth in the MAC’s East Division this season after going 15-17 last season. Junior guard Nick Sibande was named to the MAC preseason first team and is averaging 16.8 points per game in only 25 minutes per contest.
MURRAY STATE: The Racers are 2-1 against D-I teams and are rated 117th in KenPom. Murray State was picked second in the Ohio Valley Conference after going 28-5 last season and winning a game in the NCAA Tournament with sophomore sensation Ja Morant and senior Shaq Buchanan leading the way. Neither of those players remain with the team. The Racers have four players averaging double digits so far this season, led by sophomore guard Tevin Brown at 15.8 ppg.
NORTHEASTERN: The Huskies are 3-2 in D-I games and were picked to finish third in the Colonial Athletic Association this season after winning the conference last year and going to the NCAA Tournament. Through five games, senior guard Jordan Roland leads the NCAA in scoring at 30.4 ppg, shooting a ridiculous 21 of 38 from 3. In fact, Northeastern shoots 46% from 3 as a team, second best nationally.
SOUTH ALABAMA: The Jaguars are 1-2 in D-I games, including a one-point loss to Auburn, and track as a solid offensive team. It was picked to win the Sun Belt this season with senior forwards Josh Ajayi and Trhae Mitchell named to the Sun Belt preseason all-conference team, including Mitchell as preseason MVP. But it’s another senior, guard Andre Fox, who leads the Jags in scoring at 17.8 ppg. South Alabama has seven seniors and is the most experienced team in the country, per Ken Pomeroy.
WRIGHT STATE: The Raiders are 2-1 in D-I games and rate 104th in KenPom, picked to win the Horizon League this season after going 21-14 and going to the NIT last year. Junior center Loudon Love returns as an all-conference first teamer and leads Wright State with 14.6 points and 9.6 rebounds per game.