Things seemed to be going their way after the first road trip to start the season. Granted, the men’s basketball team was 1-2, but the two losses came in overtime at Boise State and at Marquette.
On the road against Lamar last week, Utah Valley controlled the game late into the second half, but they let a 14-point lead slip away. After shooting 66 percent in the first half, the Wolverines shot 46 percent in the second half. The road trips have been kind this season.
The team plays 14 of its first 20 games on the road. It’s been a rough road at that.
"It’s been tremendous wear and tear on the team," coach Dick Hunsaker said. "It’s been hard mentally, physically and emotionally."
Ryan Toolson continues to play well and broke a school record he previously held with eight 3-pointers; but his 32 points came in a 74-69 loss. Like he has done all season, Toolson carried the offense and no other Wolverine scored double figures.
However, Utah Valley has failed to have a consistent second option on offense. Senior forward Jordan Brady is the team’s second leading scorer with 10.3 points per game, but he has had his ups and downs. Brady has shown he can make a difference with games like Boise State in the season opener when he scored 17 and had 15 rebounds, against Arkansas State when he had 14 points and nine rebounds and against Furman when he had 14 points.
Brady hasn’t been the team’s only inconsistent player. Richard Troyer has been a key in games, then nowhere to be found at times and so on for Josh Olsen, Joe Walker, and others.
"I tell the players it’s tough to be a basketball star. You have to play every night," Hunsaker said.
The road trip to start the season seems further and further away. The two losses to Boise State and Marquette came prior to a win at Arkansas State. Of course a win at Boise State would have made the road trip more successful but two home wins later Utah Valley was 3-2 and playing well.
Then the problems hit. Beginning with a road loss to San Francisco the team lost five straight, including an overtime loss to Portland State where Utah Valley gave up 19 points to a 5-foot-6 guard. Portland State’s Jeremiah Dominguez scored nine points in overtime to the Wolverines six.
It was a game Utah Valley controlled until the final few seconds of regulation. In the low scoring, defensive game the Wolverines had six assists to 19 turnovers. The inconsistent play was getting started.
"We are a marked team," Hunsaker said. "We have been a team of substance so teams come after us."
Hunsaker talked about this schedule being tough because of the many games against mid-major schools but Utah Valley will have opportunities to play Independents in most of the remaining games, perhaps a chance to play more consistent. Of the team’s final nine games, six are at home.
"I don’t know if its [the schedule] fair to the kids with the expectations we have," Hunsaker said.