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Coaching clinic: Basketball perspective runs in Rahe family

SHARE Coaching clinic: Basketball perspective runs in Rahe family

OGDEN — Most basketball coaches know too much criticism of the referees can result in an early trip to the locker room.

In Randy Rahe's case, however, excessive complaining might very well result in a night spent on the couch.

Rahe's wife, Laura, is a veteran college basketball official, and that means there is a certain truce once the couple steps off the court and into the house.

"She's the only ref I know that's never missed a call," said Rahe, who is taking over the Weber State basketball team after many years as an assistant coach. "I've always told her I'm not a big fan of referees — except for one."

That dynamic is taking another interesting twist this winter when Rahe begins his first year as a head coach at Weber State. Laura will continue officiating women's basketball games but won't be working any that involve Big Sky schools. And when both discuss work while seated at the dinner table, they'll still know which buttons not to push.

"I let her go off for a while," Randy said. "Honestly, she'll educate me. A lot of times I'll think a ref was out of position to make a call or that someone else should be making that call. She'll educate me and let me know how referees do their job and why they do certain things. It's very beneficial to me just to understand what they're doing out there."

Not that that education is going to prevent the new Wildcats coach from thinking the officials working his games are absolutely nuts.

"I know he gets pretty mad during games sometimes. Every coach does," Laura said. "But really, when we're at home talking about work, he's just there as a husband. He's always a husband before he's a coach."

Life has been a whirlwind for the Rahes since Randy accepted the coaching job at Weber State. They sold their home in Draper but ran into all sorts of construction delays on their new home on the bench above the Dee Events Center in Ogden.

They spent a couple of months living with their children Luke, 7, and Kade, 4, in a hotel in Layton waiting for their new home to be finished. When school started and the hotel was too far from St. Joseph's school in Ogden, they moved into a booster's basement apartment near campus.

Finally, just this week, the Rahes were able to drag everything out of storage and into their new home. Of course, with the basketball season tipping off in earnest, exploring the new digs might have to wait a few months.

The Wildcats played Colorado Christian in the season opener Friday night and will spend a few days in Alaska at the Top of the World Classic before resuming the season.

Getting to this point has been quite the journey for Randy and Laura.

The two married in Colorado where they both were beginning successful high school and college coaching careers. Knowing the nature of a career as a coach, Laura decided to trade in her clipboard for a whistle.

"I don't regret it at all," she said. "I just knew it was the right move if we were going to be married. I don't think it would have worked otherwise."

So, while Randy joined Stew Morrill's staff at Colorado State, Laura taught school and refereed games.

Morrill took the Rahes to Logan after seven years in Colorado, and Laura's career path saw her teach at Utah State and eventually begin officiating college basketball games. The former player at the University of Great Falls in Montana worked games in the MWC, WAC, Big West and Big Sky, among other conferences.

There, she gained an appreciation for what her husband does.

"It's got to be very hard to be a coach at this level," Laura said. "As coach's wife and a referee, I really understand his job better. I know how hard every single game is and how badly they want to win every night."

Randy's competitive spirit carried over to the family court — once.

Early in their relationship, Laura said, they played a game of one-on-one. The only stipulation was Randy was not allowed to steal the ball from her as she dribbled. Laura won the game, and the two have not played against each other since.

"We played against my brother and his wife," Laura said. "And we schooled them. But we don't play against each other anymore."

Of course, that doesn't mean they have any less interest in each other's basketball careers. When Laura is working a game nearby, Randy will often attend just to watch.

It can be particularly aggravating.

"I know one time, he was sitting in the crowd, and they were screaming all sorts of stuff at the refs," Laura said. "He told me he wanted to say something but decided to sit up in the farthest corner he could find so he wouldn't have to listen to it as much."

Seven-year-old Luke is playing Junior Jazz basketball, and with a pair of hoops brains in the house, will probably turn into a good player.

"He's a natural," Laura said. "We tried soccer, but he just didn't get it. He wasn't into it at all. But with basketball, he gets it. It all comes easy to him."

The Rahes silently sit and watch the games. They know the coaches and officials in the youth leagues are just trying to help the kids.

"The last thing we want to do is yell at the coach or the ref," Laura said. "We hear that all the time ourselves. These guys are great, and they don't need us or anyone else telling them how to coach a game."

Laura's schedule is filling up quickly. She'll be refereeing games three or four days per week and is happy to have her parents around to help with the children and decorate the new house.

"She can kind of set her schedule and try to make sure one of us is around and home," Randy said. "But it does make for an absolutely crazy winter."

Now, though, the new coach at Weber State is trying to dig the Wildcats out of a hole that saw the team suffer back-to-back losing seasons for the first time in ages.

With heavy influences from Utah's Ray Giacoletti and USU's Morrill, Rahe has a solid foundation on which to build his new team. Rahe coached with Giacoletti at Utah for two seasons and picked up a few ideas — such as requiring players to earn the right to shoot 3-pointers in a game by passing shooting tests in practice.

The familiar flashcards Morrill uses with the Aggies will probably be a fixture on the Wildcat sideline.

"(Morrill's) been a big influence on me," Rahe said. "I owe a lot of where I am to him and to Ray. I hope I can have a team that's half as good. Those guys are all about winning. I've been spoiled because that's all I know."

Remaking the Wildcats is something Rahe wasted little time in doing.

He held a team meeting shortly after he took the job — one player was a few minutes late and chatted loudly throughout the get-together. It took only a few minutes after the meeting ended, reportedly, for Rahe to take the player aside and tell him he'd need to find another school if he wanted to play basketball. His attitude wasn't welcome at Weber State.

"I don't have the patience for rebuilding," Rahe said. "I want to get out there and win. And if someone doesn't believe in the way we want to do things here, they can find another place to play."

With that in mind, only three players remain from last year's squad, and one of those is now a redshirt sophomore.

Rahe had a highly touted big man waiting to join the Wildcats after transferring during the final season of Joe Cravens' tenure at WSU. But shortly before school started, Rahe sent Melvin Tyler-Jones home and asked him not to return.

The message was clear — buy into Rahe's philosophy of discipline or buy a bus ticket to a different school.

"I've never been on a team that is as together as this team," Weber State sophomore Juan Pablo Silveiri said after the season-opening win. "We're here for each other. We support each other and coach supports us. I've never been part of something like this."

Those in Weber State uniforms appear to be happy under Rahe's guidance. Where the team often sulked on the sidelines — even during wins — last season, the atmosphere was visibly different at WSU's season opener.

"I think we've got a great bunch of players," Rahe said. "They practice hard, they play hard and they have good attitudes."

Those attitudes may take a turn downward as the Wildcats lose a few games and — if preseason polls hold true — the team is in the bottom half of the standings.

"I kind of expected that," Rahe said. "We've got 13 new players and a brand new coaching staff. It's going to take us a while to convince people we can play."

For now, though, Rahe is thrilled to be working in the Dee Events Center.

"When I started interviewing, I really thought this was the best job in the Big Sky," he said. "I still do. We have the best tradition, the best support and the best facilities. We'll get this thing right again."

Rahe doesn't exactly look like a basketball coach. He looks like a gym rat, sure, but not necessarily a coach.

For starters, he looks deceptively young and not ready to guide a Division I program. He's also short — Laura has him beat by a couple of inches — and sometimes gets heckled on the road by fans. While at Utah State, the diminutive Rahe was often referred to as Boo-Boo while the towering Morrill was called Yogi.

One thing Rahe is trying to be careful not to do is overcoach. With his team blowing out its opponent, Rahe's Wildcats made a series of sloppy, lazy mistakes that resulted in turnovers and easy baskets for Colorado Christian. In a month, Rahe might consider calling a timeout and ripping his team on the sidelines. Against CCU, however, Rahe chose not to make a public spectacle of his displeasure.

"That wasn't pretty," Rahe said. "I was really disappointed in that. But it wasn't worth (calling a timeout) with a minute left.

"We still have some things to work on. We aren't good enough to get sloppy against anyone. So keeping our intensity up is something we definitely need to work on."

Not Rahe, though. His voice was gone after the first 40 minutes of his head coaching career.

E-mail: jeborn@desnews.com