Let’s try this again, shall we? Utah Valley was supposed to open the 2020-21 season against PAC-12 foe Stanford on Wednesday. However, due to a COVID-19 outbreak within the Utah Valley program, that contest was cancelled. Instead of opening against a power five opponent, the Wolverines open against NCAA Division II foe Adams State. If you’re like me, you probably found yourself asking who is Adams State? Let’s take a look at the Grizzlies.
Know your foe: Adams State
Adams State competes at the NCAA Division II level and is a member of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference. The Grizzlies are coming off of a tough 2019-20 campaign where they had an overall record of 8-20 (6-16 in conference play). Similar to Utah Valley, Adams State only returns three players from last season. Ten new players will take the floor at some point for the Grizzlies.
Team leader Kaelin Crane is back for his senior year. Crane led the Grizzlies in scoring, averaging 14.3 points per game. Sophomore guard Rylan O’Brien is back as well. Looking to have a bigger impact this season is junior guard Cole Arceneaux. Of the new guys, forward Malik Moore and center Frederick Jackson look to jump into the starting lineup. These two will bring much needed height and length for coach Russ Caton. Expect junior college transfer Nykolas Lange to start along side Arceneaux.
The Grizzlies shot the ball at a respectable mark of 43.5 percent in 2019-20. However, shooting from beyond the arc wasn’t their forte as they only shot 31.5 percent. The Grizzlies struggled defensively last season, giving up on average 86.2 points per game. The Grizzlies tallest player last season was 6’8, and it showed as they gave up 41.5 rebounds a game.
Adams State comes into this game following an 88-60 loss at Weber State. There’s no rest for the weary, as in just over 12 hours they’ll tip off against Utah Valley.
Previewing Utah Valley:
After a challenging first season, Mark Madsen and the Wolverines are ready to get things rolling in year two. Although the Wolverines had their original season-opener put on the shelf, Utah Valley quickly got a new opponent on the schedule in Adams State. A lot of credit needs to be given to UVU’s administrators for scheduling this game despite a COVID-19 outbreak within the program. With an almost completely new team, the Wolverines are looking to kick off the 2020-21 campaign with a win.
Returning guards Trey Woodbury and Jamison “J.J.” Overton are both returning starters for Mark Madsen. Fardaws Aimaq is eligible after sitting out due to NCAA transfer rules last season.
Folks in Orem are excited about the potential that Fardaws has. This game will be unusual for the Wolverines as some rotational players are out due to positive COVID-19 tests. As a result, we are uncertain who will be playing and who won’t be. For Utah Valley’s starting lineup, I am sticking to my guns. It’s anyone’s guess; we won’t know until right before tip off.
PG – Jordan Brinson, SO, 6’3, 175 lbs
SG – Trey Woodbury, JR, 6’4, 200 lbs
G/F – Jamison Overton, SR, 6’6, 190 lbs
F – Evan Cole, GR, 6’10, 230 lbs
C – Fardaws Aimaq, RS JR, 6’11, 245 lbs
PG – Cole Arceneaux, JR, 5’11, 170 lbs
SG – Nykolas Lange, RS JR, 6’5, 175 lbs
G/F – Kaelin Crane, SR, 6’6, 160 lbs
F – Malik Moore, SR, 6’7, 208 lbs
C – Frederick Jackson, SR, 6’8, 198 lbs
What to expect:
Both teams are looking to find their footing, especially since both programs welcome a lot of new faces. For Adams State, they’ll be looking to clean things up defensively and be a bit more efficient offensively. For Utah Valley, they’ll be looking to play more consistently at a frenetic pace.
With Utah Valley missing some key players, this will be an early test of depth for Mark Madsen’s squad. This will be a tough contest for Adams State coming off a loss on Wednesday at Weber State. This game will be a battle for a variety of reasons. The Grizzlies are ready to start a new campaign, and some of Utah Valley’s players will be looking to catch Mark Madsen’s attention. Utah Valley should take care of business in this one, and they will give Wolverine fans plenty to be thankful for.
Where to Watch
The game tips off at 11 a.m. MST. You can watch the game as it will be streamed live on the WAC Digital Network. Brandon Crow will be on the call.