In his first year at Utah Valley and as a head coach, Mark Madsen has had quite a learning curve. Utah Valley has struggled to start games fast, execute at a high level on the offensive end and finish games late. It’s led to a 9-14 record overall and 3-5 record in WAC play.
The Wolverines were mere minutes away from being 5-3 or possibly 6-2 in WAC play. An overtime loss at CSU Bakersfield. A loss at Kansas City when the Wolverines led 63-61 with a minute to play. A loss at home to California Baptist despite a 15-0 run to start the second half. According to Madsen, the ways Utah Valley is losing games are fixable and that is what the Wolverines spent the off-week working on.
Madsen also talks up his big man, Emmanuel Olojapoke, who WAC Hoops Digest has as its mid-season Defensive Player of the Year. Olojapoke leads the WAC in blocks with 65. The next closest is California Baptist’s Zach Pirog who has 34 blocks.
The Wolverines host Seattle on Saturday afternoon at the UCCU Center in a must-win situation for both programs. Seattle dominated Utah Valley at the Redhawk Center on Jan. 11 to the tune of 83-50. So, Utah Valley has a little redemption on its mind for Saturday.
If the Wolverines can get off to quicker starts and shoot it better from the 3-point line, watch out. Utah Valley is very good in transition and perhaps Mark Madsen just needs to let his guys play their game. There is potential on this team and Madsen sees it. Now, it is just a matter of executing at a high level. TJ Washington, Brandon Averette and the rest of the Wolverines have talent. It’s just a matter of it all coming together and worrying about winning more than who scores.
It all starts on Saturday afternoon at the UCCU Center against a good Seattle team.