OGDEN — A trip to Hawaii, two exhibition games, a full slate of in-state games and a revised schedule to accommodate the 2002 Winter Olympic Games highlight the 2001-02 Weber State University men's basketball schedule.
In past years, the Wildcats have generally played two exhibition games before the regular season begins. Those games usually came against a foreign team and an AAU team of sorts. This season, however, the Wildcats will play Westminster College and Montana State — Northern in exhibition contests.
"We wanted to get some competitiveness from those games and make it a learning experience for our players," said Weber State coach Joe Cravens. "Most of the time, those foreign teams and AAU teams were just here for a good time and money. I am sure these two teams coming in will play hard and play to win and should make for a more interesting game for our fans to watch as well."
The 'Cats open the regular season on the road at Illinois State from the Missouri Valley Conference on Nov. 16, then return for the home opener on Nov. 19 against Concordia College of Portland, Ore.
On Thanksgiving weekend, the Wildcats play at the Big Island Invitational in Hilo, Hawaii, opening up with perennial SEC power Louisiana State on Nov. 23, then play the winner or loser of the Hawaii-Hilo vs. Wisconsin game on Nov. 24. Other teams in the tournament include Colorado State, Hawaii, Mercer and South Carolina State.
The Wildcats have three in-state games in the Dee Events Center on successive Saturdays, beginning with Utah State (Dec. 8), followed by Utah (Dec. 15) and Southern Utah (Dec. 22). The 'Cats play at BYU on Dec. 5.
"December will be a challenging month, but the good side is that we don't leave town until after Christmas for the Dr. Pepper Invitational in Tennessee," said Cravens. "Having those three in-state games at home on a Saturday is a real plus for us this season."
The Weber State Ice Sheet is the host arena for the 2002 Winter Olympics curling competition. The Dee Events Center will be used as the media staging area for the event. To accommodate the Olympics, the men's basketball team will be on the road in Big Sky Conference play for five straight games. In fact, the 'Cats will not play a home game the entire month of February. Conversely, WSU has six of its first eight league games at home in January.
The Big Sky has gone to a Friday-Saturday format for league games this season. The lone exception is the opening week in January when the Wildcats host Montana State and Montana on Thursday (Jan. 3) and Saturday (Jan. 5). The Wildcats end the season with a March 2 home game against arch-rival Idaho State. The Big Sky Conference Post-Season Tournament is scheduled for March 7-9 at the site of the regular-season winner.