Racking up frequent flier miles or frequent hotel points isn’t something a basketball team should hang its hat on.
But for Utah Valley’s men’s basketball team, that’s really all it could take away from road games this season after going 2-10 away from the McKay Center.
Winnable games have slipped away for the Wolverines, as they have avidly fought for most of those games, with just two notable exceptions where they lost 20 points or more.
And to think that this season started so promising for a team that lost at Boise State by one point in overtime in UV’s season opener. It was followed by an 11-point defeat to No. 13-ranked Marquette.
It has gone downhill for the most part since then for Utah Valley.
Don’t blame Ryan Toolson for the team’s performance this year. Usually he has been on, especially in the latest road trip where he scored 33 against Chicago State and 32 against Lamar.
The main problem seems to be the other players looking for Toolson to do all the work, which isn’t all that foolish when he can hit his shots.
When he shoots 1-for-12 from the field like he did in the loss to Louisiana-Lafayette last Tuesday, then it becomes a problem.
Seniors Jordan Brady, Richard Troyer and Joe Walker were supposed to take more of a leadership role this season after the departure of coach Dick Hunsaker’s vaunted four seniors last year.
The lineup just hasn’t worked out for the Wolverines, as only Brady is averaging double-digit scoring numbers besides Toolson. Exacerbating the team’s problem in ball watching when Toolson is in control is that no one is averaging more than three assists per game.
For Hunsaker, this isn’t supposed to be a rebuilding year, according to what he professed at the start of the season. After finishing 22-7 last season‚ good enough to get a No. 130 RPI ranking‚ the Wolverines looked ready to impress on a national scale.
Hunsaker admitted his schedule was a bit tougher this season with several home-and-home games against teams like Boise State, Cal State Northridge, and Troy.
Maybe a problem for the Wolverines is trying to be a little bit bigger than they really are. Just remember that right now the team is on the lower peg of Division I teams and it needs to take small steps instead of having the players bite off more than they can chew.
It has been a tough schedule for the Wolverines and they have predictably dropped those games. Losses to teams like Chicago State or even Troy, though, just doesn’t cut it.
As the season draws to a close over the next month, it’s time to give some other bench players a chance. Jamir Jinna and Kevin Woods have shown small sparks of brilliance. Now it’s time to integrate them both into the offense and give Toolson a break.
Right now, it’s Hunsaker’s call whether or not to pull the trigger. He really isn’t known as someone who develops talent right away. Rather, he prefers to bring his players along as quickly as a roast in a slow cooker on a Sunday afternoon.
Let’s see if dinner’s on or if the Wolverines will still be hungering for success with a strategy that obviously isn’t working.