Dropping last season’s opener at IUPUI has the Wolverines eager to avenge the defeat when they take on the Jaguars in Orem on Nov. 8.
“We know they whopped us a year ago very handily to open the season at their place,” head coach Dick Hunsaker said.
Four seniors on the current UVU roster played in the contest a year ago and the rotation on opening night will likely be made up of a mix of both newcomers and veterans.
“I certainly am excited about what was on display tonight,” Hunsaker said at the conclusion of the green-white scrimmage. “It appears to me that we’re going to have some depth. I hope as we move through preseason play that is defined and we’re going to be able to know just how deep we are.”
The new-look Wolverines benefited from six games in China in August against foreign professionals and view the experience as advantageous when competing against teams that have only practiced together.
“A lot of bonding experience definitely happened on the court,” senior center Ben Aird said of the tour of China. “You learn how to trust each other and how to play together.”
Fans were able to catch a glimpse of 2013-14 men’s team Oct. 29. Multiple players changed teams after the first 10-minute period, so the outcome was not as important as the competitiveness of the game.
Sophomore transfer Hayes Garrity led all scorers with 17 points, including a 24-foot buzzer beater. Freshman Zach Nelson impressed with 12 points and three blocks, and fellow newcomer, junior transfer Mitch Bruneel, had seven points.
Senior point guard Holton Hunsaker led the returning players with seven points, and senior center Ben Aird showed his range with two three-pointers.
The makeup of the team may have dramatically been altered, but the team chemistry distinguishes this group.
“Everyone works hard,” Holton Hunsaker said about the differences between this year’s squad and teams he’s played with in the past. “There’s not one guy that’s taking days off. There’s not a guy that takes plays off even. Everyone gets along really well on this team. There’s nobody that says anything negative in the locker room.”
In contrast IUPUI has five returning players, one of which was named to the preseason All-league (Summit) second team. Center Mitch Patton averaged 13.7 points and 5.0 rebounds per game. Containing Patton’s production in the paint would go a long way in slowing the Jaguars’ offense.
Fans that attend the Nov. 8 opener will have the opportunity to see first-person the new Jumbotron that was raised recently to hover above the court in the UCCU Center.
Kyle is a junior at UVU, studying journalism. He works at KSL as a writer/content manager and previously wrote for weareutahjazz.com. He is originally from Colorado Springs, Colo., where most of his family resides. In his free time Kyle enjoys hiking, playing the sports he writes about, reading and obsessively following his professional teams, to which he is unwaveringly loyal. You can follow him @kyledspencer.