IF, AFTER THREE LESS-THAN-SUCCESSFUL YEARS UNDER LARRY FARMER, ANYONE HAS HIGH EXPECTATIONS FOR TH 1988- 89 EDITION OF THE WEBER STATE BASKETBALL TEAM, NEW COACH DENNY HUSTON IS GOING OUT OF HIS WAY TO KILL THEM.

"I DON'T HAVE A MEASURING STICK OF HOW GOOD WE'LL BE YET," SAID HUSTON. "WE JUST WANT TO BE COMPETITIVE. WE'RE NOT IN THE SAME LEAGUE AT ALL AS UTAH OR BYU.

"IF I HAD A CHANCE, I'D GET OUT OF PLAYING BYU, UTAH AND UTAH STATE."

HUSTON, HIRED IN THE AFTERMATH OF 7-22 AND 9-21 SEASONS UNDER FARMER, COMES TO THE WILDCATS FROM STANFORD, WHERE HE SPENT A YEAR AS AN ASSISTANT. HE'S ALSO SERVED AS AN ASSISTANT AT WYOMING, WASHINGTON, WASHINGTON STATE AND CLARK COMMUNITY COLLEGE UNDER JIM BRANDENBERG, MARV HARSHMAN AND FRANK ARNOLD, AND AS HEAD COACH AT CLARK AND WESTERN WASHINGTON.

HE ALSO LISTS JUDD HEATHCOATE AS ONE WHO HAS INFLUENCED HIM, AND CALLED THE MICHIGAN STATE COACH "THE MOST NEGATIVE GUY IN THE HISTORY OF BASKETBALL."

HUSTON APPEARS TO BE ATTEMPTING TO GIVE HEATHCOATE A BATTLE FOR THAT TITLE. MEETING THE MEDIA WITH OTHER UTAH CAGE COACHES TUESDAY, HE ASKED TO SEE THE OQUIRRH BUCKET _ THE SYMBOL OF BASKETBALL SUPREMACY IN THE STATE.

"I'D LIKE TO JUST SEE THAT THING," HUSTON SAID. "YOU KNOW I'M NEVER GOING TO WIN IT."

DESPITE HIS LESS-THAN-OPTIMISTIC STATEMENTS, THERE ARE SOME REASONS FOR OPTIMISM IN OGDEN THIS SEASON. FARMER DIDN'T LEAVE THE CUPBOARD BARE. EIGHT LETTERMAN, INCLUDING THREE STARTERS AND TWO OTHER PLAYERS WHO SPLIT A STARTING ROLE, RETURN.

AND THE 'CATS TOOK A 10-GAME SWING THROUGH EUROPE THIS PAST SUMMER, WINNING ONLY TWO GAMES BUT GETTING SOME MUCH-NEEDED EXPERIENCE.

RICO WASHINGTON, WEBER'S TOP PLAYER LAST SEASON _ AND ONE OF THE BEST IN THE BIG SKY CONFERENCE _ IS BACK FOR HIS SENIOR SEASON.

WHILE THE WILDCATS FINISHED A DIM 9-21 LAST YEAR, 6-7, 225-POUND WASHINGTON SHONE, AVERAGING 19.9 POINTS ON 59.9 PERCENT SHOOTING FROM THE FIELD AND 10.3 REBOUNDS. HE WAS NAMED FIRST TEAM ALL-BIG SKY AS WELL AS NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR. THE BASKETBALL TIMES SELECTED THE GLOUCESTER COMMUNITY COLLEGE PRODUCT TO ITS NATIONAL ALL-TRANSFER TEAM.

"THE THINGS THAT RICO DOES, I DON'T TEACH," HUSTON SAID. "HE'S GOT GREAT TALENT AND GREAT TECHNIQUE."

THE TEAM'S SECOND-LEADING SCORER IS ALSO BACK. TIMMY GIBBS, A 6-3, 175 POUND SENIOR GUARD, AVERAGED 11.1 POINTS PER GAME. BUT ACCORDING TO HUSTON, GIBBS HAS TO WORK ON PLAYING DEFENSE.

"THAT IS NOT EVEN IN TIM'S VOCABULARY YET," HE SAID.

POINT GUARD PAXTON "MOOCHIE" COBB, A 6-0, 185-POUND SENIOR ALSO RETURNS. HE LED THE TEAM IN ASSISTS, BUT ALSO LED IN GIVE-AWAYS WITH 112.

"I REFER TO HIM AS THE HUMAN TURNOVER," HUSTON SAID.

AT FORWARD FRED ROLLIN (6-4, 225 SR.) STARTED 10 GAMES LAST SEASON AND CALVIN GLENN (6-4, 185 SR.) STARTED FOUR. BUT GLENN BROKE HIS FOOT THIS SUMMER AND IS NOT EXPECTED TO BE EFFECTIVE EARLY IN THE SEASON.

ANTHONY MCGOWAN (6-8, 190 SOPH.) PROVED TO BE A PLEASANT SURPRISE FOR HUSTON ON THE EUROPEAN TOUR. HE AVERAGED JUST 6.7 MINUTES A GAME LAST YEAR _ DESPITE STARTING 18 TIMES _ BUT AVERAGED 15 POINTS AND 10 REBOUNDS IN EUROPE.

OTHER PLAYERS TO WATCH INCLUDE GUARDS ED GORDER (6-3, 175 JR.), MIKE OSTLUND (6-3, 185 JR.), JASON JOE (6-2, 235 FROSH) AND FRONTLINERS CHRIS METKE (6-8, 235 SOPH.) AND KEVIN WILLIAMS (6-4, 200 FROSH).

THE NEW WEBER COACH SAYS HE DOESN'T WANT HIS PLAYERS JUST RUNNING UP AND DOWN THE COURT WITH THEIR OPPONENTS, HE WANTS THEM TO PLAY "WITH TEMPO." HE INTENDS TO STRESS DEFENSE AND FORCE OTHER TEAMS OUTSIDE.

HUSTON SAYS HE DOESN'T BELIEVE IN "OVERSCHEDULING" _ I.E. HE WANTS TO GET SOME EARLY-SEASON WINS. THAT SHOULD PROVE POSSIBLE, BECAUSE IN ADDITION TO SINGLE GAMES AGAINST BYU AND UTAH AND A HOME-AND-HOME SERIES WITH UTAH STATE, THE WILDCATS' EARLY-SEASON FOES INCLUDE SOUTHERN OREGON STATE, SOUTHERN UTAH STATE, ATHLETES IN ACTION (AN EXHIBITION GAME) LEWIS AND CLARK AND SAINT MARTIN'S.

THE 'CATS OPEN THEIR SEASON SATURDAY AT HOME AGAINST SOUTHERN OREGON STATE, AND NAIA DIVISON ONE SCHOOL.