Nov. 10, 2011
OREM, Utah - The Utah Valley University men's basketball team tips the 2011-12 season at home on Friday at 4:30 p.m. MT in the UCCU Center against Simpson University. The game can be heard live on 960 AM The Zone, UVU's new home for men's basketball, and on WolverineGreen.com. Admission to the game is FREE.
The Wolverines are the defending Great West Conference champions after going 11-1 in the GWC and 19-11 overall in 2010-11. Four of the five players who started all 30 games return, making UVU the coaches' choice to repeat as champions.
"The table has kind of turned this year with four returning starters, each of whom were All-Conference" said head coach Dick Hunsaker. "That brings a different type of preparation for the season. We're certainly not going to come into an arena unnoticed coming off of the conference championship."
All-American guard Isiah Williams heads the list of returners. Williams was the Great West Player and Newcomer of the Year and first-team All-Conference after averaging 17.5 points per game. Ben Aird was on the second team after scoring 12.0 points and pulling down 7.8 rebounds while Geddes Robinson, who led the GWC with 9.4 rebounds per game, and Holton Hunsaker (11.1 ppg) both received honorable mention.
Seniors Rory Fannon, Keith Thompson and Kevin Woods, and junior Zach Jones all return from a season ago. Sophomore Taylor Brown is also back in the program after two years away serving an LDS mission.
Junior Alfonzo Hubbard, sophomore Keawe Enos and Australian native and freshman Will Sinclair are the newcomers on the roster. Hubbard spent last season at Salt Lake Community College, while Enos returns from an LDS mission after spending one season at Mesa Community College.
"We played with a very short bench a year ago and that was a weakness for us we`ve tried to address. I feel like our returning lettermen have all improved their games and we brought in three newcomers who are acclimating themselves to our expectations," Hunsaker said.
Following Friday's game against Simpson, UVU will play three games next week starting on Monday at the University of Houston. On Wednesday, Grambling State comes to town during Homecoming Week at Utah Valley University. The week is capped off with UVU's first-ever live nationally televised home game, against UMKC, on Saturday, Nov. 19 at 7 p.m. on Fox College Sports.
The season schedule includes 16 home games and 15 on the road including a tournament at Chattanooga prior to the New Year.
The Great West schedule tips off on Jan. 21 at home against GWC Tournament winner North Dakota and ends March 3 on the road against the Fighting Sioux. The 2012 tournament will be hosted by Chicago State and begins March 7.
"We really have a challenging schedule, at home and on the road, and have a lot of respect for the opponents on our schedule," Hunsaker said. "The Great West Conference has gotten stronger each year. Last year it was a very young league. This year there could be a Utah Valley or a North Dakota in the mix, a team that's picked low in the preseason and challenges for the top spot. Hopefully our experience and determination, with just how difficult it is to be successful in Division I basketball, can help us this year."