Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t prefer to “count my chickens too early” when it comes to covering sports. If you are currently involved in the Utah Jazz Twitter universe right now, you’d think that they currently are the worst team in the league. Any Brigham Young University football fan would’ve thought the program was national championship bound after BYU fans took to Twitter following two wins against Tennessee and USC.
Then you give it a few weeks — or in the case for the Jazz, a few months — and the world returns back to normal. BYU loses to South Florida and Toledo and the Jazz make a strong run going into the playoffs.
Despite usually being hesitant to jump to conclusions, I have to say: Utah Valley’s men’s basketball team is looking like they have the potential to be very special this season. I know that I am basing this claim off of a sample size of five games, but being able to compete with Kentucky, and almost win, at Rupp Arena isn’t something I think anyone expected when the season began. Although UVU lost 82-74, observers could see that UVU competed at a much higher level than expected and gave UK a pretty good scare.
The most interesting part of the Wolverine’s battle with the Wildcats was that UVU didn’t really play all that well. They played without starting junior guard Isaiah White, got into foul trouble early on, got out-rebounded 27-46 and allowed late game offensive rebounds that were a huge factor in losing the game.
It can also be noted that the referees swallowed their whistles and gave almost no calls to UVU in the last five minutes of the game, with some no-calls being so egregious that anyone could see whom the refs favored with the clock winding down.
With the loss of Mark Pope, multiple players including the WAC Player of the Year Jake Toolson and the majority of the men’s basketball staff — I thought it would take Mark Madsen a few months, or maybe even the whole season, to get things figured out.
Yet from what I saw on Nov. 18, it doesn’t seem like Madsen intends to take his sweet time. The Wolverines hit the ground running and all of us have the opportunity to see just how far they can go.
Here’s to hoping that it is much further than even I expected.