It is hard to imagine a winning men’s basketball program without Head Coach Dick Hunsaker.
In fact, it is hard to imagine that UVU was able to land Hunsaker as a head coach before the pivotal transition into a Division I program.
For anyone who knows college basketball, it might come as a surprise that a one-time junior college (UVSC) was able to hire a basketball coach with resume stats such as: 33 years coaching, 14 years as a head coach, 315-159 record, .665 winning percentage, two Mid-American Conference championships, one Mountain West Conference championship, two NCAA tournament appearances, one Sweet 16 appearance, one MWC Coach of the Year, three Street & Smith Independent Coach of the Year and not to mention, one LA Times National Coach of the Year honor.
Growing up on a farm in northern Montana, where basketball wasn’t very prevalent, Hunsaker still managed to fall in love with the game of basketball at an early age.
His love for the game led to a collegiate career at UTEP in 1972-73 and at Weber State from 1974-77 where Hunsaker played guard.
“From all my success and frustrations as a player, I was able to better understand how to coach a players game,” Hunsaker said. “Everything I did as a player has helped me form players into better athletes.”
His love and passion playing the game has transformed into a similar coaching style. Some have criticized Hunsaker for wearing his heart on his sleeve and displaying an intense coaching style every minute of every season, but the critics don’t bother the coach one bit.
“As a teacher and a coach, I have a responsibility to drive and push athletes to their full potential,” Hunsaker said. “Young athletes will never get better unless there are standards and someone pushing them to be their best.”
Former UVU athletes coached by Hunsaker that have gone on to play at the next level include: Ronnie Price of the Utah Jazz, Ryan Toolson currently in the Euroleague, Jordan Brady of the Utah Flash and David Heck and Richard Troyer who are both playing pro ball in Mexico.
With UVU’s campus stuck in between the “blue” university and the “red” university, Hunsaker’s winning desire has added “green” to the map.
When asked what Hunsaker’s favorite part of coaching was, he replied, “Winning, simply winning.”
His desire to win has been headlining college basketball at UVU with six straight winning seasons. One of which was a record of 16 wins in UVU’s first season of Division I basketball, a feat only three teams have accomplished in the last 25 years while making the leap to Division I.
Coaching the Wolverines to a 22-7 record during the 2006-07 season was the most wins by an Independent team since Notre Dame in 1985-86.
What feeling does Hunsaker have when it comes to his career coaching at UVU?
“Gratifying,” he said. “My coaching friends told me that taking the coaching job [at UVU] would be road kill.”
If by road kill they meant a combined 136-79 record, which is a 63 percent winning percentage, then they were correct. There has to be a handful of those same coaches wishing their career could have the same “road kill” effect on them.