A run of great hope

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Photo by Sarah Sanchez

Who would have ever thought that a team that finished its season with a 17-17 record would give its fan base such a great deal of hope for the coming season? For the UVU faithful, that is exactly what the UVU men’s basketball team did in its final eight games of the season.

UVU beat New Mexico State in Las Cruces for the first time ever and snapped the Aggies’ 45-game home conference winning streak. They beat Seattle University twice. The second win over the Redhawks was in the WAC Tournament in Las Vegas.

UVU followed up its third straight win with one of the greatest basketball games ever played in the WAC. The Wolverines battled regular season champion Cal State Bakersfield for 60 minutes and four overtime periods before ultimately losing by one point. It was a game that UVU head coach Mark Pope called “an epic battle between two teams that were willing to put aside all their agendas and give the game everything they had.”

Fortunately, it wasn’t the end for the 2016-17 UVU men’s basketball team. The Wolverines received a bid to play in the College Basketball Invitational and they didn’t disappoint. UVU went on the road to beat Georgia Southern by 30 and then beat Rice in the quarterfinals to set up a semifinal game against Wyoming.

Although the season ended on the high plains of Laramie, there is a ton of excitement surrounding the 2017-18 season. Sure, UVU loses a group of seniors that accomplished a great deal in two years’ time (first-ever win over BYU, first-ever win at NMSU, second win ever in WAC Tourney, first-ever win in a postseason national tournament, to name a few) but the Wolverines just reload for next season.

Incoming transfers Jake Toolson and Cory Calvert from BYU along with 7-footer Akolda Manyang from Oklahoma give UVU depth that hasn’t been seen in the program in a long time. Kenneth Ogbe, Brandon Randolph, Isaac Neilson, Conner Toolson, Zach Nelson and Hayden Schenck will all be back in the black and green.

On Twitter, our sports editor Kaleb Searle even went so far as saying “Also, BYU fans better get used to the idea because UVU is beating them again next year,” in reference to a tweet from a BYU platform that referenced how the UVU loss wasn’t as bad as it seemed for the Cougars.

If you missed a game this past season, don’t miss one in 2017-18. The run that ended the 2016-17 season was just a preview of what is to come next season.