Three can be a company but for the Wolverines, it hasn’t been enough.
The Wolverines have had some players give impressive outings on the basketball court, but the overall team was not rewarded for them. Senior forward Nick Thompson posted UVU’s first ever triple-double in a win over Austin Peay back in December. Thompson had 13 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds to topple over the Governors in the Dr. Pepper Classic. But a game later against Chattanooga in that same classic, the Wolverines fell despite another great individual effort from Holton Hunsaker. Hunsaker had a career night with 37 points and 8 three-pointers, but UVU still managed to fall short.
The New Year came rolling around, and the individual accomplishments kept coming as junior center Ben Aird had a career night of his own with 26 points, 13 rebounds and 10 blocks. Yet another triple-double for the Wolverines still couldn’t get them a victory as they fell to conference rivals, NJIT.
“It’s hard to not have either one of those efforts rewarded with wins,” head coach Dick Hunsaker said after the NJIT loss. “That’s where basketball’s a team game and all aspects always point that way. You’re always only as good as your teammates will allow you to be, and the success is all within your teammates, and it’s a team game.”
Aird understood as well that his individual efforts, as monumental as they were, were not going to matter if the team didn’t succeed.
“You can score 50 points in a game,” Aird said. “If you lose, it doesn’t matter. Each one of us just needs to have that energy each night. It’s going to take each one of us to be on that same page and really coming out every night and battling in order to get it done. We’ve had our ups and downs this year, and I think that’s something we can work on moving forward.”
The Wolverines must have been listening in. Their next game they traveled to Kansas City and took care of business with five players scoring in double digits while Aird, Thompson and resurgent senior Alfonzo Hubbard each scored 18 points.
“This was a very nice team win tonight,” coach Hunsaker said. “We played smart and intelligent, had good ball movement and made good decisions. Our overall effort and spirit was very good.”
The Wolverines didn’t stop there when they took on Houston Baptist and blew them out by 21 points. Four players were in double digits scoring with Hubbard’s 24 points leading the way. Every player had an assist that game, including Thompson’s eight.
The Wolverines are finally playing like a team. Although the individual accomplishments of Thompson, Hunsaker, and Aird won’t go unnoticed, it is their team unity that is leaving a new mark under the win column. That’s how Coach Hunsaker laid it out since the beginning of the season.
“I think this team is going to be a much more balanced team,” Coach Hunsaker said at the beginning of the season after their Meet the Team exhibition game. “They have to do it as a unit, as a team. I really look for us to be a better balanced team.”
With only 11 games left in the season, the Wolverines might have to pull out some magic from their 2011-2012 season when they won 13 of their last 14 regular season games. But it’s not so much magic as it is a team effort to get those victories. Utah Valley will travel on the road to take on Chicago State before returning home to host the Bobcats of Peru State on Jan. 28.