Thursday , November 16, 2017 - 5:49 PM
The Wildcats are one of eight high quality, mid-major teams that will face off in the tournament. Their first contest is against Iona at 6 p.m. MST Friday.
Last season, the two teams played in the Great Alaska Shootout and the Gaels buried the Wildcats in a 76-54 win. Iona went on to win the tournament.
“We’ve got to go down there and get revenge for last year. It wasn’t a good game for us,” junior center Zach Braxton said. “We know that if we go down there and guard as hard as we can and rebound as hard as we can, and just play really hard, that we have the talent with that kind of effort to beat them.
“We remember getting beat bad, and we’re not going to let that happen again.”
Weber State head coach Randy Rahe said he’s been told Iona is even better than last year. While the Gaels lost four key contributors to graduation, the team has seven junior college transfers that have bolstered the roster.
Winless on the year, Iona most recently dropped a nine-point loss at Syracuse and lost to Albany in the season opener 69-67.
“They are great at accumulating extremely high level talent,” Rahe said. “They’re very athletic. They press, they zone, they make life difficult using their athleticism. They’ve got high-level talent. They’ve got two or three players that are high-major players.
“It’s going to be a great challenge for us. I’m excited about it. We’ll see what we can do against a real high-level team.”
In last year’s matchup, Iona found success against Weber State by applying full-court pressure. WSU expects more of the same against the Tim Cluess led Gaels, and while the Wildcats have been preparing to break the press, Rahe says there is no substitute for in-game experience against it.
“You can prepare in practice all you want, but our scout team does not look anything like that team that we’re going to play,” Rahe said. “They’re athletic, they’re long, they’re fast. We’ve been working hard on the press already this year, but until you get into the game and start feeling it, the first time you see it is always difficult.”
Depending on Friday’s results, the Wildcats will face either Northern Kentucky or James Madison on Saturday, then conclude the tournament Sunday. Other participants include Vermont, Bradley, Coastal Carolina and UTSA.
Vermont, Iona, Northern Kentucky and Bradley are all top-150 teams in Ken Pomeroy’s national ratings, with the first three having qualified for the NCAA Tournament last season.
Tournament games can be watched live with a paid subscription at FloHoops.com. The game will also be broadcast on 1430 AM KLO with Steve Klauke on the call.
Contact Brandon Garside at email@example.com, on Twitter @BrandonGarside and on Facebook.com/BrandonGarsideSE.
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