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Great West Conference Part 4

In July of last year, Utah Valley University accomplished something significant that

pretty much went unnoticed by the national media. After seven years, the school

completed its provisional status and made the move from NJCAA into NCAA Division I.

Think about that for a second. Seven years ago, this wasn't even a four-year

institution. Now, the school's athletic teams compete against the best that the

college sports world has to offer.

Stewardship of the men's basketball program through this period has been the

responsibility of Dick Hunsaker, a coaching veteran who has now come full circle in

his career.

Back in 1990, Hunsaker led Ball State into the NCAA Tournament as a 12th seed. His

squad would go on one of the more memorable runs of the last 25 years, taking out a

Gary Payton-led Oregon State team and a 4th seeded Louisville team before losing by

two points to eventual national champion UNLV in the Sweet Sixteen.

He finished his tenure at Ball State with a 97-33 record before making the move into

the CBA and eventually back into the Division I ranks as an assistant to Rick

Majerus at Utah. He was named the Mountain West Coach of the Year in 2001 after

serving as interim head coach during Marjerus' absence.

His next move was over to Orem to take over at Utah Valley in the school's final

season in the NJCAA ranks. In many ways, he was the perfect choice for the job.

"I think my background and the variety of experiences I've had have been a real

advantage in helping this program be more adaptable," Hunsaker said recently when

asked about the school's transition. "It's been a very fun adventure."

Hunsaker coached arguably the school's greatest athlete in the person of current

Utah Jazz guard Ronnie Price. From 2002-05, Price averaged 19.7 points and 3.9

rebounds. In his last two years, which count in UVU's NCAA record books, he ranks

first in career scoring average at an impressive 22.2 ppg.

Coming into this season, Hunsaker has fashioned an impressive 136-68 record at UVU

that included a 17-11 mark last year. But with the loss of guards Ryan Toolson and

Josh Olsen, Utah Valley was lacking a little firepower coming into this inaugural

Great West campaign. The Wolverines currently sit at 4-6 in the league and 11-15

overall.

While the Wolverines are currently a little off the pace in the league, there's

still a great deal left to play for. That's because the school gets the nice

advantage of hosting the Great West Tournament next month.

The fact that UVU will be playing host to the league's first tournament is a great

source of pride for Hunsaker. "I'm excited about the efforts and the tremendous

amount of work that the Utah Valley University community's put into hosting this

event," he said.

A win in that tournament would garner the Wolverines a postseason pass in the form

of a bid to the CollegeInsider.com Tournament. For a league in its infancy, the

importance of such a reward is not lost on Hunsaker.

"It's a wonderful incentive," he said. "I think I can speak for every member of the

Great West in saying that we couldn't be happier in having this association with

CollegeInsider.com Tournament."

View Great Western Conference PART 1

View Great Western Conference PART 2

View Great Western Conference PART 3