As the Big Sky Conference men’s basketball tournament gets underway Wednesday, Weber State has one goal: reset, get right mentally and rediscover the team that, at times this season, played close to being a juggernaut.
Otherwise, it might be more of the same that plagued WSU down the stretch: uninspired, inconsistent basketball.
“We’ve got to clear up a couple things we’ve got to do better at and then we’re going full-steam ahead over to that tournament,” head coach Randy Rahe said Saturday after his team’s loss to Eastern Washington. “Nothing that’s happened tonight, last week, two weeks ago matters now. Now we get to go to the tournament and that’s all that matters.”
The ability to hit that reset button can turn teams into contenders. For example, WSU’s 2017 squad lost four straight down the stretch to fall to the No. 3 seed, then manhandled Southern Utah and second-place Eastern Washington in the tournament before coming 40 seconds away from winning it.
Can the Wildcats do it this time?
“I think we’re going to. I think we can clear out, I think we can reset and get our juices flowing and our energy up, we can go over there and do some damn damage,” Rahe said. “I know that, I have great faith in this team. It’s been a tough stretch here ... where we had guys injured and in and out, and when we got back, we’re not in that great rhythm we were before that.
“So we’re fighting that a little bit. It might even be just a tad confidence. I saw it the other night against Idaho … and (Saturday) against a good basketball team I thought we played really good basketball for some good stretches. So it’s in there, we’ve just got to get it out.”
That test to get it out will be a good one. Portland State played a mirrored regular-season campaign to WSU: Started 4-8, finished 7-1. And nobody in the country crashes the offensive glass like the Vikings, a strong spot that became weak spot for the Wildcats down the stretch.
WSU and PSU tip off at 2:30 p.m. Thursday.
AROUND THE SKY
While fourth-seeded Weber State byed to Thursday’s quarterfinals with four other teams, tournament action begins Wednesday with the first round.
All games in the tournament will be carried on WatchBigSky.com and Pluto TV channel 231, except for the championship game which airs on ESPNU.
Northern Arizona faces Sacramento State to open the men’s tournament at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday with the winner advancing to play No. 1 seed Montana at noon Thursday. The two teams each won on the other’s home floor.
Southern Utah plays Idaho State at about noon Wednesday. Those teams also split: ISU won by 20 at home and SUU won by six at home. The winner gets No. 2 Northern Colorado at 5:30 p.m. Thursday.
The men’s first round concludes at about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday with Montana State taking on Idaho. MSU won both regular-season contests by an average of 12.5 points. The winner plays No. 3 Eastern Washington at 8 p.m. Thursday.