Danny Moloshok, AP
Weber State's Richaud Gittens dunks the ball in front of UCLA's Bryce Alford, rear, as teammate Joel Bolomboy, right, looks on during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)
Overall, it's the hardest schedule I've probably been involved with as a coach. It's very difficult. (We’ve) played difficult teams, and not only that, we haven't played enough games. We've only played eight games. —Randy Rahe, Weber State head coach

OGDEN — As Weber State prepares for Big Sky play, WSU head coach Randy Rahe acknowledges what a tough preseason the Wildcats have had.

With a nonconference schedule consisting of only eight games, it’s obvious the ‘Cats didn’t see nearly enough action, but they still managed to face their fair share of tough competition.

“Overall, it’s the hardest schedule I’ve probably been involved with as a coach,” Rahe said as the Wildcats prepare to tip conference play off against Eastern Washington Thursday night in the Dee Events Center. “It’s very difficult. (We’ve) played difficult teams, and not only that, we haven’t played enough games. We’ve only played eight games. At this point last year, we played 11 games, so it’s been frustrating.”

Weber State had battles against in-state rivals Utah State, BYU and UVU, and also took on the UCLA Bruins, who were ranked No. 22 at the time. The Wildcats went 0-4 in those contests and were only able to come up with three wins — against San Jose State, St. Katherine College and Northern New Mexico.

One area Weber State needs to improve is rebounding. Despite ranking second in the Big Sky in rebounds per game (36.9), WSU has been outrebounded in all six of its games against Division I opponents this season.

“Our No. 1 concern is defensive rebounding. We have got to improve that.We just do,” said Rahe. “A lot of it is the competition we’ve faced, obviously, but at the same time, it’s an area we’ve got to focus on and we’re making it a strong focus here all the way until we start league play.”

The Wildcats have managed to make it through their difficult and frustrating preseason, but will now be tested to compete in a conference in which they were heavily favored to win entering the season.

Weber State (3-5) will kick its 20-game Big Sky Conference schedule off against Eastern Washington (5-6) Thursday night at 7 p.m. The Wildcats have won eight of their last nine meetings against the Eagles.

A quick look at how teams in the league (in projected order of finish) have fared thus far:

Ryan Love is a full-time student at the University of Utah studying communications, and has been a part-time sports reporter and scoreboarder for the Deseret News since Oct. 2012.

Follow him on Twitter @RLove7724

EMAIL: rlove@deseretnews.com