This year’s basketball season saw the lady Wolverines put up a record-setting 16 wins, the most Utah Valley has won as a Division I team. However, consistent struggles on the road made this a good team rather than a great team.
The Wolverines ran the table at home, going 12-0 with impressive wins over Seton Hall, Gonzaga and Nevada. They also beat less talented teams such as NJIT, Cal State Bakersfield and Texas Pan American fairly handily. On the road it was a completely different story for Utah Valley.
Whether it was for a lack of experience or due to mysterious homesickness, the Wolverines failed to perform anywhere other than the McKay Center.
Teams they dominated on their home court seemed to do the dominating everywhere else.
"A big part is consistency," said coach Cathy Nixon. "It takes consistency to win at this level."
While the Wolverines executed consistently at home, they were consistently out executed on the road. Utah Valley defeated Texas Pan Am at home by 18 points, but lost by seven to that same team on the road.
Wins that came so easily for the Wolverines at home turned into losses when played on the opponent’s home court.
Nevertheless, with the majority of the offensive attack returning, including All-American Robyn Fairbanks, the future appears bright. "I’m very optimistic about next year," Nixon said. "We feel like in some ways we should be better with another year of experience."
That extra year of experience could help Utah Valley become a winning team on the road and might turn a 16-win season into a 20-win season next year, an aspiration they talked about hitting this season.
"That’s a really important step: to be consistent on the road," said Nixon.
As a program trying to make a name for themselves, the Wolverines played a tough schedule.
"I’m really proud to get 16 wins with the schedule we had," said Nixon. "I think if you would have told me at the beginning of the season that we would have 16 wins I’d be happy."
Having stumbled down the stretch losing their last three in the Independent Tournament in Edinburg, Texas, the Wolverines still finished 16-12. At one point early in the season, Utah Valley even received a vote in the AP top 25 poll after a thrilling overtime win at home against Seton Hall.
Nixon and her players are happy with their season, but are also striving to make their next one even better.
"We have a raised level of expectation," she said. "We have a sense of success, but not satisfaction."
The Wolverines anticipate having another tough schedule next year, one filled with NCAA Tournament tested teams and plenty of road games.
How Utah Valley executes on the road next season will again determine whether the Wolverines make history as the best team in school history or fade down the stretch, because the pieces for success are in place.