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Wins give Utah Valley strong start to season

Solid core of players helps team thrash Montana squads

SHARE Wins give Utah Valley strong start to season

OREM — The Utah Valley State men's basketball team began the 2006-07 season this week with home wins against Montana State and Montana. The Wolverines opened the regular season Friday by beating the Bobcats 69-37 and followed that up with a 74-57 win Monday over Montana.

According to coach Dick Hunsaker, having top performers from last season such as forward David Heck and guards Matt Peterson and Chris Bailey returning this year has helped to ease the transition of the Wolverines moving onto a new campaign.

"Our returning players have primarily assumed a similar role to what they had a year ago," Hunsaker said. "So there's not a big role adjustment on this team, which is a big advantage (compared to) when you have to readjust players' roles. We simply have (some) familiarity with my expectations. Blending our new guys in, it just simply takes some time."

One aspect from last year's squad that appears to have remained intact is that while the Wolverines lack a dominant scorer, they're able to compensate for it with a core of solid, balanced players, any of whom could lead the team in scoring on a given night. It's a dynamic decidedly different from two years ago, when former UVSC standout and current Sacramento King Ronnie Price dominated the Wolverine offensive landscape.

"We have a different look from the past," Hunsaker said. "This is an opportunity where we just have more weapons (and are) a little bit more balanced offensively than when we had Ronnie Price. I hope to continue to grow in that manner."

They said it

"I got home about five months ago, in June. The transition (back to basketball) was rough, but I was dreaming basketball for two whole years. I was able to come back and feel even stronger than I did my freshman year." Sophomore guard Ryan Toolson, talking about re-acclimating himself to basketball following a two-year LDS mission to Guatemala. Despite coming off the bench, Toolson is the only UVSC player to score in double digits in both of the team's games. Monday against Montana, he scored 26 points on 9-for-14 shooting from the field, including 5-for-6 from 3-point land.

The week that was

WOMEN'S VOLLEYBALL: The season ended Saturday for the UVSC women's volleyball team when the Wolverines lost in four games to Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne in the championship match of the Division I Independent Championship in Fargo, N.D. Utah Valley State (17-11) won two matches to advance to the final, where it lost to IPFW 30-24, 27-30, 30-19 and 30-26.

Outside hitter Camie Manwill, middle blocker Jessica Endres and setter Lacee Koelliker were each named to the All-Tournament team.

WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: The UVSC women's basketball team defeated visiting Mesa State 101-82 Saturday in the Wolverines' season-opener. Sophomores Sandy Marvin (Payson High) and Robyn Fairbanks each scored 25 points for Utah Valley State. The Wolverines were clinging to a 53-52 lead early in the second half when Marvin ignited a 10-0 run with aggressive play on both ends of the court that put UVSC ahead 63-52.

WRESTLING: The Wolverines sent 23 wrestlers Saturday to the Cowboy Open in Laramie, several of whom competed unattached to the UVSC wrestling program because they intend to redshirt this season. Freshman Gerhrhart Vuksinik (Pleasant Grove High) finished third at 157 pounds in the under-20 division, and fellow frosh Ben Kjar took home second place in the 125-pound classification of the elite division.

On Tap

MEN'S BASKETBALL: vs. Great Falls, 7:05 p.m. Saturday.

WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: vs. Utah, 7:05 p.m. Friday; vs. San Diego State, 3:05 p.m. Wednesday.

WRESTLING: at the John Hancock Dual Invitational in Golden, Colo., all day Saturday.