OREM — Utah Valley University women's basketball head coach Cathy Nixon announced her 2013-14 season schedule. Highlighting the schedule are 15 home games, three in-state opponents and a full slate of Western Athletic Conference competition.
The upcoming season will have a bit of a familiar feel as 12 of UVU's 21 opponents this year were also on last year's schedule. In fact, the Wolverines will face new opposition in just two games this season with George Mason (Nov. 14) and WAC foe Kansas City (Jan. 23 and Feb. 22).
"I think we've built a schedule that suits our team very well," said Nixon, entering her 19th season at the helm of UVU women's basketball. "Obviously the end goal is to prepare ourselves for the conference games and put ourselves in a position to compete for a WAC championship, and the preseason schedule was built with that intent. We will be tested on the road, especially right out of the gate with that long trip to Longwood and George Mason in November."
UVU will be Virginia bound in mid-November with stops in Fairfax to face Mason and Farmville for a date with Longwood (Nov. 16). It will be the first meeting all-time between Utah Valley and George Mason, as well as the first time the Wolverines have faced an Atlantic 10 opponent. Meanwhile, UVU and Longwood will be renewing their series, the last stop of which took place in Orem during the 2011-12 season.
The preseason opens with an exhibition against Carroll College of Montana on Oct. 19, and transitions into the regular season opener on Nov. 8, at home against the Wolfpack of Nevada. Now a member of the Mountain West Conference, Nevada is two years removed from a run into the second round of the WNIT.
The Wolverines will take the court the very next night against Walla Walla (Nov. 9) before embarking to Virginia — its farthest road swing of the season.
"Nevada will be a good, solid opponent for us in our first game," Nixon said. "It will put some pressure on our young, less-experienced team to be prepared for a tough matchup right off the bat."
On the back end of that cross-country trip sits a visit to Cedar City on Nov. 21, for a tilt against Southern Utah. The Wolverines and Thunderbirds have met in each of the last 10 seasons, including a home-and-home series last year.
The SUU game marks a string of three consecutive fixtures against Big Sky Conference opponents as UVU returns home to bookend Thanksgiving weekend against Sacramento State (Nov. 27) and Northern Arizona (Nov. 30).
Another three-game road swing kicks off the month of December when the Wolverines head north to face their second MWC opponent of the year in Boise State (Dec. 5). From there, UVU will keep things local with games at Weber State (Dec. 7) and Pac-12 Utah (Dec. 11). The Wolverines and Utes — runners-up in the 2013 WNIT — last met during the 2011-12 season, also at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City.
"It's important for us to have these instate games and we feel it's good to nurture those local rivalries," Nixon said. "Utah is another team that is going to test us and they are going to be very good this season. It's a program we have a lot of respect for and as we continue to build our program it's important to have quality teams on the schedule that we can measure ourselves against."
UVU's longest homestand of the season begins in mid-December when Santa Clara of the West Coast Conference visits Orem on Dec. 14. Home dates with Idaho State (Dec. 20) and New Orleans (Dec. 28) surround the Christmas holiday and close out the non-league schedule for the Wolverines.
The month of January not only ushers in a new year for Utah Valley women's basketball, but also a new conference era as UVU will host its first-ever WAC game on Jan. 4. The Roadrunners of CSU Bakersfield will be in town that day as both programs will celebrate their initial foray into WAC competition.
UVU's home slate during the conference season includes meetings with Idaho (Jan. 16), Seattle University (Jan. 18), Texas-Pan American (Jan. 30), New Mexico State (Feb. 1), Grand Canyon (Feb. 6), Chicago State (Feb. 20) and Kansas City (Feb. 22).
Though moving into a new conference home, the new-look WAC is not unfamiliar to the Wolverines. UVU has previously faced all but one, UMKC, of its 2013-14 conference opponents prior to this season. In all, the Wolverines are 22-22 against current WAC opposition.
"We're looking forward to the WAC season and to having a home in such an established and reputable conference," Nixon said. "Even in years past, playing as an independent and in the Great West, it was important to me to find games against schools that we thought we might pair up with in a conference someday. So it's nice to have at least a general feel for the league and we know the league its going to be very competitive."
UVU will look to extend its season at the WAC tournament beginning March 12 at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. The Wolverines, who appeared in three of four GWC tournament championship games, have their first-ever chance to qualify for the Big Dance with a conference tournament title.
"We're excited for the opportunity to compete at the WAC tournament," Nixon said. "The Great West was a great precursor for us in that it gave us a postseason tournament where our team was exposed to that setting and could learn how to prepare. But it's an exciting opportunity for us and we're looking forward to it."
Kellen Hiser is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.