Weber State basketball: Wildcats work to renew tough identity against NAU, SUU

Thursday , January 04, 2018 - 5:15 AM

BRANDON GARSIDE, Standard-Examiner Staff

OGDEN — The day after Saturday night’s disappointing loss against Idaho State to begin Big Sky Conference play, Weber State head coach Randy Rahe and his team watched the game film.

“It wasn’t hard to see,” Rahe said.

It might not have been hard to see the team’s problems, but game film that was surely hard to watch led to a pair of hard practices this week.

“We pushed them physically, we pushed them mentally and they responded well,” Rahe said. “We have to try to get our identity back. We’re not where we need to be. It doesn’t happen overnight, but I think the last few days we feel like we’re closer to establishing an identity that we need to have to try to be successful.”

The Wildcats (7-6, 0-1 Big Sky) will face Northern Arizona and Southern Utah this week, the two lowest ranked teams in the conference, according to college basketball analyst Ken Pomeroy.

“Where we are as a program right now, after last week, we had better have our minds right or it doesn’t matter who we’re playing, here, on the road, we will not have a chance to be successful,” Rahe said.

“After what happened last weekend, we had better figure out how to play with an edge, because we’re not talented enough, we’re not veteran enough to just go out there against anybody and have a chance. We have to play a certain way.”

Sophomore guard Jerrick Harding said the loss served as a lesson, and the intense practices helped the team get back on track.

“That’s our fuel to our fire. We knew we didn’t play how we can play,” Harding said. “We used these two practices to get back to how we play and just work even harder. The biggest thing we’re worried about right now is competing. That’s something that we’ve been lacking these past couple of games.”

Northern Arizona (3-12, 0-2) takes the Dee Events Center floor Thursday. Sophomore guard JoJo Anderson leads the Lumberjacks with 13.7 points per game. In NAU’s 87-69 loss to Montana, Anderson scored a career-high 31 points.

How well the Wildcats control the paint will be key with NAU’s quick, penetrating guards and capable big men.

Southern Utah (6-7, 0-2) brings its 10th-worst scoring defense of 85.3 points allowed per game into Ogden on Saturday, but UNLV graduate transfer Dwayne Morgan adds another dimension to the team and wasn’t available to play until last week.

In his first and only two games as a Thunderbird, Morgan became the team’s leading scorer with 18.5 points per game against Montana and Montana State. SUU has plenty of new, talented players and is starting to click.

Both games tip off at 7 p.m. and will air on KJZZ TV, with online streams on PlutoTV and WatchBigSky.com. Steve Klauke and David Patten will provide radio commentary on 1430 AM KLO.

Contact sports reporter Brandon Garside at [email protected], on Twitter @BrandonGarside and on Facebook.com/BrandonGarsideSE.

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