UVU MBB season recap: 

Reading Time: 4 minutes UVU Men’s Hoops fell to Cal Baptist in the first round of the WAC Tourney, what can we expect for them this offseason?

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Back in Jan., Utah Valley Men’s Hoops was struggling. They had played one of the hardest non-conference schedules in program history, struggling to find their pace and what kind of team they were. 

Utah Valley’s non-conference roundup highlighted how difficult the non-conference schedule was and how UVU needed a quick turnaround to be able to make the WAC Tournament. 

It was not until a fall apart to Tarleton State at home on Feb. 8 – in which UVU had a 16-point lead that was diminished in the second half – where UVU was 9-14 that they found out what team they were.  

It took a sophomore forward to go nuclear in spare playing time to make the difference. 

Ethan Potter, who had not scored more than eight points in a game during the season, came in and turned the Wolverines around in an instant.  

Potter would record career-highs in three of four games to spark the Wolverines to finish the season winning seven of their last eight, climbing all the way to the fifth seed in the WAC Tournament.  

Potter scored 15 versus Stephen F. Austin, 19 in the loss to Tarleton State, 20 against Abilene Christan, and scored double-figures in every game but one the rest of the season including a 22-point, 15-rebound effort in a revenge game win at Tarleton on March 7.  

What could the beginning of the season have looked like if he had been playing regular minutes like he was at the end of the season? 

Utah Valley saw a complete turnaround in its non-conference schedule after starting 5-3, they would lose 10 of their next 11 games with six of those losses coming in WAC play. 

Transfer guard Drake Allen was sidelined for key games against Oregon State and Weber State due to a sprained ankle after landing on a ball in a shootaround and an illness.  

Allen also struggled to shoot the ball this season despite shooting 50% from the field and 35% from the arc at Southern Utah last season.  

This year, he shot 44% and 23% from beyond the arc, but averaged more points and assists per game, respectively.  

This was the first year for head coach Todd Phillips since Mark Madsen’s departure for Cal –who went 13-19 and finished sixth in the Pac-12 and will join the ACC next year. 

Phillips recorded the most wins by a first-year head coach in program history and led the Wolverines to a 16-16 record. 

The most disappointing part of the season was the overtime loss to Cal Baptist in the first round of the WAC Tournament where Utah Valley fell 74-63.  

Considering UVU beat CBU twice this year, including a dismantling at Cal Baptist where the Wolverines won by 23, added to the disappointment of losing to them in the tournament. 

Utah Valley struggled in the first half but eventually took the lead going into the second half, but the Lancers took it to the Wolverines who took a 10-point lead late. But the heroics of Allen and Potter allowed UVU to climb back into the game, and a pair of free throws by Allen with 3 seconds left sent the game into overtime. 

Utah Valley scored just three points in overtime to the Lancers 14 and abruptly ended their season. 

“I was really proud of our guys tonight,” head coach Todd Phillips said after the loss to Cal Baptist. “I think the game was a little bit like our season has been, we get down, we dig ourselves a hole, and fight to get back, but I am really proud of our guys overall.” 

“It’s a long season, we all played our asses off and came up short,” Potter said. “But we gave it our all and there’s not much more we could have done.” 

Allen spoke after the game but was emotional about how he played and stated that the loss was on him and the whole team knew it.  

Despite Allen not having the best performance, going just 4-16 from the field, his efforts in the final six minutes of the second half were arguably the best he had looked all year, getting whatever he wanted at the line and from beyond the arc. 

A very telling stat from this year was Utah Valley’s inability to score from beyond the arc. The team shot a combined 28.5% from three which is an all-time program low (29.9% 2014-2015). Utah Valley also made only 67.6% of their free throws which left many points off the board in multiple one-possession losses that happened this year.  

This season could have been a disaster for Utah Valley. Returning just two players from last year in Jaden McClanahan and Potter. But being able to bounce back after a rough half of the season is a win. UVU was able to beat every team at least once except for the NCAA Tournament-bound and WAC Champion Grand Canyon, and WAC runner-up UT Arlington.  

McClanahan showed excellent leadership in the team while providing 6.7 points per game and three assists in mostly coming off the bench.  

So, what now? 

As of 3/21 only one player has entered the transfer portal, and it was K’mani Doughty who appeared in 31/32 games for Utah Valley this season but saw his playing time diminish as he struggled to find his shot. Doughty transferred from New Orleans at the beginning of the portal window last May.  

McClanahan and Utah State transfer Trevin Dorius have played their last college basketball games and will not return to the team in addition to Cache Fields and Doughty. 

With how name, image, and likeness are so vital in college sports and the transfer portal being a mess, it is unsure who will stay, and who will come in for Utah Valley next year. There are rumors of potential in-state players who are likely to enter the transfer portal that Utah Valley is expected to pursue. 

Utah Valley would benefit from a secondary ball handler to Allen to come off the bench, a big to replace Dorius, and someone who can be an instant plug-and-play shooter for the Wolverines. But any addition would be a good addition for a team that is losing its best defender and rebounder in Dorius.