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Every year when the new recruits are brought in, Weber State University men’s basketball coach Randy Rahe sits his players down and tells them about the history of WSU basketball. Over the last two-plus seasons, the Wildcats have taken that to heart, entering the week tied for consecutive Big Sky Conference home wins with 26.
“We don’t lose at home,” said WSU senior Jordan Richardson. “Since I’ve been here, we’ve only lost one or two games at home. That’s what we always talk about.”
WSU men’s basketball is the most-winning program in Big Sky Conference history. It has won 19 Big Sky Championships and participated in 14 NCAA Tournaments.
“Our kids take a lot of pride in playing at Weber State,” Rahe said. “When they get here, we tell them it is an honor and a privilege to play here. Not because I’m here, but because of what happened before I even got here. The reputation of this basketball program before I got here was top 50 in the country.”
Rahe not only credited the players, but the fans for making the Dee Events Center one of the toughest arenas to play in.
“When we are at home, we have to give it everything we’ve got,” he said. “When you have pride for something that you are playing for, you don’t want to let people down. You don’t want to let people down that are coming to watch you play. They don’t want to let the university down and they don’t want to let their teammates down.”
Over the last seven seasons, the Wildcats have lost just five conference home games. Only one of those has come in the last four seasons. The Wildcats understand the importance of having home-court advantage during the conference tournament.
“It’s always important to protect your home court, especially in conference,” said WSU senior Kyle Tresnak. “That could decide what place you are in and where the tournament is at. We really focus on defending our home court. We’ve had just one conference loss at home since I’ve been here. It’s a big emphasis.”
From his eight seasons coaching at WSU, Rahe has a conference record of 104-28. He is just 20 wins away from being the most-winning coach in Big Sky history.
“It’s an honor and a privilege for me to be able to coach here, and it’s an honor for our kids to be able to play here,” Rahe said. “I take it very seriously. We have great fans and we have to uphold that tradition. Our kids have embraced it.”
Richardson set a record of his own last weekend. Against the University of Montana, Richardson played in his 124th game as a Wildcat, setting a new Big Sky record. Richardson benefited from playing time as a freshman when Damian Lillard broke his foot and was lost for the season.
“It’s been an honor,” Richardson said. “There have been games where my knee was hurting, or my ankle. I try to play each and every game like it is my last. I just go out there and play my game and do whatever I can to help my team win. When Damian got hurt, it gave me a chance to get more and more experience as a freshman.”
Richardson credited Rahe for instilling in him toughness to play through injury and fight his hardest.
“Coach Rahe is a tough, fiery guy, and he has brought it out of me,” he said. “You can’t just go out every night and not show up. You have to have that tough edge about you each and every time you play. We have a motto at Weber State — ’You have to go out every night and play with a chip on your shoulder.’ We try and do that.”
The Wildcats will play their last regular-season home game Saturday against Northern Arizona University. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. at the Dee Events Center. WSU defeated NAU in Flagstaff, Ariz., 76-67 earlier this season.