Snakes and ladders is an ancient board game where the object of the game is to move from the bottom of the board all the way to the top. You try to avoid being hindered by obstacles in your way that can make you slide back down to the bottom of the board.
The ups and downs of that game are a fitting analogy of the 2017-18 season for head coach Randy Rahe and his Weber State Wildcats.
All things pointed towards a return to the top of the Big Sky Conference until a series of preseason injuries looked to derail their fate. Junior guard Cody John was going to be a starter this season, but he injured his back in a non-contact injury in October that left him out for the year.
John’s injury and the graduation of the programs all-time leading scorer (Jeremy Senglin) left Rahe with a roster that includes seven freshman to help maneuver his way back up the ladder of the Big Sky Conference.
Weber State is the youngest team in their conference and Rahe said that he didn’t have his full roster of players healthy until mid-January, which contributed to the Wildcats early season slide.
Once healthy, luck began to favor Weber State as they pulled off an impressive run of form that saw them win 12 of 13 games including nine in a row at one point in 2018.
After climbing up the ladder to second place and putting themselves in a good position to win the regular season title, they have since lost back-to-back games and are now two games back of Montana with just two games to go in the regular season.
Weber State’s next game is on March 1 at Montana.
Rahe said, “I believe you can make your own luck if you work really hard and if you do things the right way.” He added, “Luck can come your way.”
Rahe’s hard work over the past 12 years as Weber State’s head coach helped him become the all-time conference leader in wins with 247 back on Feb 17. Rahe said that he wasn’t really aware of the record until shortly before, but credits his players and assistant coaches for “making him look better.”
One of several of Wildcats players that has made Rahe look better this year is 6’1 sophomore guard Jerrick Harding. The Wichita, KS native was the Gatorade Player of the Year coming out of high school in Kansas, and he is currently leading the conference in scoring with 21.4 points per game.
Rahe said, “He’s just a flat out scorer.”
Rahe also spoke about Harding’s high character and work ethic, and compared the competitiveness in his DNA to former Weber State greats Senglin and NBA All-Star Damian Lillard.
One of the best ways to avoid snakes in your life is to surround yourself with good people who can help you along the way.
Rahe spoke about the quality of players he has on his team who he said epitomize the culture of Weber State. He said, “I’ve been here 12 years and I’ve loved every one of my teams but I really love this team.”
Weber State has made it to the NCAA Tournament twice in the past four years, and Rahe thinks this team could have the spirit to climb back up the ladder and earn themselves a place in the NCAA Tournament.
Weber State has two remaining conference games before the Big Sky Conference tournament tips off March 8-10 in Reno, NV.