OREM — In its first season with a new name, the Utah Valley University men's basketball team will kick off the 2008-09 season tonight with the first of four straight home games when it hosts Northern Arizona at the McKay Events Center.

The Wolverines also begin this season as one of the newest members of the Great West Conference. Last season, playing for the last time as Utah Valley State, the Wolverines finished with a 15-14 record, just inching above .500 with a win in their final game.

Tonight is the first-ever meeting between the Wolverines and the Lumberjacks. Northern Arizona, which plays in the Big Sky Conference, finished 21-11 last year with a 12-5 record in conference.

This season's schedule looks to be a little more friendly for the Wolverines as UVU will play seven of its first 10 games at home and 16 at home overall. Both Utah State (Dec. 13) and Southern Utah (Dec. 20) will visit the Wolverines in Orem this season as well as Lamar University (Feb. 9) of the Southland Conference.

The reigning Division I Independent Player of the Year, senior guard Ryan Toolson headlines a group of returning players for Wolverine coach Dick Hunsaker. The all-time school leader in points with 1,497, Toolson boasts a .947 career free-throw shooting percentage and a .446 average from behind the 3-point stripe.

During last season's campaign, Toolson averaged 23.4 points per contest, aided by his .436 3-point shooting percentage and his Div. 1-leading .951 free-throw shooting percentage on the season. Joining Toolson as 2008-09 captains are returning senior guard Josh Olsen and senior center Brett Ravenberg.

Junior guard Jordan Swarbrick is the only other returner from Hunsaker's 2007-08 roster. Six new players fill out the rest of the Wolverines' 10-man lineup as Kevin Woods II will redshirt this season due to injury.

E-MAIL: jdavis@desnews.com