Utah Valley University and men’s basketball head coach Mark Madsen have agreed to a five-year contract extension that secures Madsen through the 2025-26 season. The extension comes off of the heels of a successful 2020 campaign which saw the Wolverines secure a regular season WAC title for just the second time in school history.
“I’m incredibly excited,” Madsen said. “It’s really a tribute to the players that we have in the program and the performance of the players on the court. To have four players mentioned as part of the all-conference package is a testament to their hard work and dedication.”
In his first year as head coach, Madsen and the Wolverines fought through adversity to post 11 wins before the season was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In that same season, UVU broke the all-time single season team blocks record behind elite defensive player Emmanuel Olajapoke with 157 rejections.
Returning only two players from the 2019-20 season, Madsen and the Wolverines made massive strides on their way to a 9-4 conference record and a share of the WAC regular season title.
The WAC was defined by parity in the 2020-21 season. The top teams, UVU, Grand Canyon and New Mexico State all suffered 3 or more losses in conference play. The race for the title came down to an exciting two-game series at GCU. The Wolverines were able to come away with a victory in the first game of the series 59-55 to clinch a share of the title in a season where they were picked to finish seventh in the WAC preseason polls.
“The so-called experts that come up with those rankings, we know that they are almost always wrong,” Madsen said. “With what the players had seen with their work last summer, even with the pandemic, they could see and feel the foundation. When you add on top of that a sound offense, that in a lot of ways is equal opportunity, I think it makes the players feel empowered.”
Having a good offense is what the Wolverines have looked to do by putting pressure on teams at the rim. With an elite talent in redshirt sophomore Fardaws Aimaq, they have been able to do just that. Aimaq has garnered national attention with his play down low averaging 13.9 points per game and 15 rebounds per game en route to the WAC Men’s Basketball Player of the Year and WAC Men’s Basketball Defensive Player of the Year honors.
Madsen and the Wolverines are not satisfied with the recent success they have seen though. Their goals for the program are higher.
“The overwhelming and very clear set and articulated goal is not only to make the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history, but to make a deep run in the tournament,” said Madsen.
UVU will kick off their hunt for the first NCAA Tournament bid in school history at Boise State on Nov. 9. This will be followed with what could be the toughest road yet through conference play after the WAC added conference newcomers Sam Houston, Lamar, Abilene Christian and Stephen F. Austin.
Brice Larson is currently a Junior at UVU majoring in communications with an emphasis in journalism and media studies. He enjoys everything about sports and one day hopes to become a college football analyst and play by play commentator.