New coach with new system looks to take Wolverines to next level
Kyle McDonald | Sports writer | @kylesportsbias
For the first time in 13 years, the Utah Valley University men’s basketball season will begin a new season with a new coach. Mark Pope was announced as the men’s basketball coach on March 31 after then-head coach Dick Hunsaker resigned. During his speech at the press conference, Pope said that he wanted to take this program to the next level and that “it is going to be a fun ride.”
That ride begins on November 3rd when UVU faces off against Western State in an exhibition game at the UCCU Center in Orem. 10 days later they travel to Provo to face BYU in the Marriott Center in the first game of the regular season. Other games on their non-conference schedule include in-state foes Utah State, Weber State and Southern Utah. They travel to Louisville, Ky. where they will face UNC-Wilmington and Louisville. Their final non-conference game is in Moraga, Calif. to take on Saint Mary’s of the West Coast Conference. Pope knows that it is a difficult schedule but he also knows that his team wants to compete at the highest level.
“We’re excited,” Pope said. “One of the keys to growing a program is playing the best teams out there.”
That schedule doesn’t get any easier as the Wolverines take on New Mexico State in their first Western Athletic Conference matchup. The Aggies are the preseason favorites to win the conference. UVU was picked to finish sixth by the media and the coaches.
Seniors Marcel Davis, Alex Carr, Cory Cardwell, Darrious Hamilton, and Jayden Jackson are expected to be the leaders on the 2015-16 version of the UVU men’s basketball team.
“I have high expectations for all these seniors,” Pope said. “Your senior year is something really special. A lot of times when you become a senior it’s the first time you have to carry the weight of the program on your shoulders. You don’t have anybody that you can look up to for responsibility. It’s now your job and so I have really high expectations for those five guys.”
Davis is looking forward to the opportunity to play in a new system where he can be aggressive and make things happen.
“It’s a new system, new season, and new coach,” Davis said. “I think this system fits me a little better than the last one so I am excited about it.”
“I just have to set a good example,” Davis said. “Just showing up first to practice and being the last one to leave. I just have to instill in everyone that work ethic is going to be a big thing for us.”
Hayes Garrity also returns for UVU. Garrity missed the 2014-15 season with a torn ACL but he was named to the Preseason All-WAC 2nd team by the coaches and media. The junior from Beaverton, Ore. is looking to build on a successful sophomore campaign in which he played in all 32 games and averaged 8.7 points per game. Coach Pope has high expectations for his junior guard.
“I think that Hayes is going to really help us coming back from an injury,” Pope said. “He has done a really good job getting himself healthy.”
Pope is also going to lean on his junior college transfers Ivory “Trey” Young and Andrew Bastien as well as true freshman Telly Davenport.
“I like our two junior college kids,” Pope said. “They’re both going to grow into really good players. And Telly Davenport has a lot on his shoulders as a true freshman. He is going to have to play for us and play well.”
With a mix of core players and new players, Pope knows there will be some growing pains and he knows that in order for his team to be successful they have to come with the right mindset and be ready to play night in and night out. However, there is one thing that he wants his players and the fans to know.
“I didn’t come here if I didn’t think we would win.”
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