Fans are invited to pick up their 2018-19 UTEP men’s and women’s basketball season tickets on Thursday (October 18) at the UTEP Athletics Season Ticket Office, located at Brumbelow Building Room 109 next to the Don Haskins Center.
Fans can drop by anytime between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., however the first 200 fans will receive gift bags. All paid season tickets will be available for pick up. Tickets that are not picked up on Thursday will be mailed out on Friday.
UTEP’s flagship radio station, 92.3 The Fox, will be doing a live remove from Brumbelow between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. Members of the UTEP basketball coaching staffs will be stopping by between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m.
The UTEP women will host Western New Mexico in an exhibition game on Saturday, October 27 at 1 p.m.
The UTEP men will play their first home game in the regular season opener against UT Permian Basin on Tuesday, November 6 at 7 p.m.
UTEP season tickets are available now by calling (915) 747-6150.
IRVING, Texas – Conference USA announced its initial schedule of televised and streamed games for the 2018-19 basketball season on Tuesday, and 11 total games will feature the UTEP Miners – eight from the men’s and three women’s contents.
All eight men’s games will be C-USA games as the Miners will open league action at UTSA on January 3 –streamed on ESPN+, with a 6 p.m. MT tipoff.
UTEP will host a trio of contests on ESPN+, the first against North Texas (Jan. 10), the second against Old Dominion (January 24) and third versus FIU (February 9). Tipoff for all three contests is set for 7 p.m. MT in the Don Haskins Center.
The other two ESPN+ games include UTEP at WKU (February 2) with a 5 p.m. MT tipoff and at Southern Miss (February 16) at 3 p.m. MT.
BeIN Sports will carry UTEP at Marshall (January 31) and at LA Tech (February 14). Both contests are set for 5:30 p.m. MT tipoffs.
Ten ‘Bonus Play’ games will also be televised or streamed on Stadium, Stadium on Facebook, beIN Sports, CBSSN and CBSSN on Facebook as those are set for February 23-March 9.
C-USA Championship first-round action will be streamed on ESPN+ on March 13. The quarterfinals March 14 will be on Stadium, while the semifinals and championship final will be televised on CBSSN.
ESPN+ will carry a trio of women’s contests. The first is at UTSA (January 5), while the Miners will host UTSA (February 23) and North Texas (March 7).
The women’s C-USA Championships will have all games in the first round, quarterfinals and semifinals streamed on either ESPN+ or Stadium, while the finals will be broadcast on CBSSN.
UTEP MBB Broadcast Schedule
Jan. 1 UTEP at UTSA [ESPN+] 6 p.m. MT
Jan. 10 North Texas at UTEP [ESPN+] 7 p.m. MT
Jan. 24 Old Dominion at UTEP [ESPN+] 7 p.m. MT
Jan. 31 UTEP at Marshall [beIN Sports] 5:30 p.m. MT
Feb. 2 UTEP at WKU [ESPN+] 5 p.m. MT
Feb. 9 FIU at UTEP [ESPN+] 7 p.m. MT
Feb. 14 UTEP at LA Tech [beIN Sports] 5:30 p.m. MT
UT El Paso September 26, 2018Sports, UTEPComments Off on Fans to Get First Look at UTEP Basketball Teams on October10
Fans will have the opportunity to get a first look at the 2018-19 UTEP men’s and women’s basketball teams at the Miners’ Preseason Showcase on Wednesday, October 10 in the Don Haskins Center.
The showcase will begin at 6 p.m. and is free for all fans. It will feature an open practice for both teams, followed by an autograph session. Complimentary schedule posters will be given away.
Concessions will be sold. Fans can receive a free small popcorn with the purchase of a medium soft drink, while supplies last.
Season tickets will also be sold at the event. The UTEP Athletics Ticket Office and the Miner Athletic Club will be hosting a one-time-only select-a-seat promotion during the basketball showcase event. Throughout the Don Haskins Center the limited number of seats that are currently able to be purchased on a season ticket basis will be tagged.
Fans who buy their new season ticket package during the event will be rewarded with a special price discount. The select-a-seat promotion will be the best opportunity for new Miner fans to ‘test drive’ seats and pick the best option for their enjoyment and budget while reserving their location for the highly anticipated and exciting 2018-19 season of UTEP Miner basketball.
On the men’s side, Paul Thomas is the lone senior as the Miners embark on the Rodney Terry era. Thomas started in 29 of 31 games last season and averaged over eight points per game, along with over five rebounds per contest (tied for the team lead). Thomas recorded back-to-back double-double games, the first against UTSA (11 points, 11 rebounds) and the second at Charlotte (15 points, 11 rebounds).
Sophomores Evan Gilyard and Kobe Magee are the other two returnees for the Miners. Magee led Conference USA in three-point field goal percentage for league games only (.531), while Gilyard set a UTEP freshman record by connecting on 84 percent of his free throws.
Terry, who was hired on March 12, performed a roster makeover by adding 13 new players. Incoming freshmen Nigel Hawkins, Jordan Lathon, Efe Odigie and Kaosi Ezeagu will be looked upon to contribute early in their careers. Souley Boum (San Francisco), Anthony Tarke (NJIT), Tydus Verhoeven (Duquesne) and Bryson Williams (Fresno State) are high-profile Division I transfers who will sit out this season.
UTEP women’s hoops returns four letter winners — Jordan Alexander (8.4 ppg, 6.0 rpg), Jordan Jenkins (2.0 ppg, 1.4 apg), Zuzanna Puc (9.1 ppg, 4.3 rpg) and Katarina Zec (9.2 ppg, 3.8 rpg) — from last year’s squad, in addition to a pair of players (Ariona Gill and Neidy Ocuane) who sat out last year as redshirts. There are also six newcomers in the mix.
Last year the Miners compiled an overall record of 17-14 and advanced in the C-USA Tournament before bowing out to top seed UAB in a close affair, 75-66. The effort allowed Kevin Baker to become the most successful first-year head coach in program history.
UTEP Basketball Season Tickets are on sale now by calling (915) 747-6150.
UTEP Athletics and the Miner Athletic Club have announced the dates for the 2018-19 Luncheon Series. The first two events will be held this fall at the El Paso Convention Center, with the final luncheon taking place in early February.
The football kick-off and hoops tip-off luncheons feature appearances by Dana Dimel, Rodney Terry, Kevin Baker and select student-athletes as they preview their upcoming seasons.
The football signing day luncheon is hosted by the UTEP coaching staff and offers an in-depth look at the latest batch of incoming recruits.
Football Kick-Off Luncheon: Tuesday, August 21st 12 p.m.
Hoops Tip-Off Luncheon: Tuesday, October 9th 12 p.m.
Football Signing Day Luncheon: Wednesday, February 6th TBA
Fans are encouraged to buy their tickets early as these events have been sellouts in recent years. Luncheon tables of 10 are $350 and individual tickets are $35. Tickets can be purchased by calling the Miner Athletic Club at (915) 747-8759 or online by clicking here.
The deadline to purchase tickets is August 13th for the Kick-Off Luncheon and October 1st for the Tip-Off Luncheon.
Football and Basketball season tickets are now on sale and can be purchased by calling (915) 747-6150 or by visiting the UTEP ticket website.
UT El Paso July 30, 2018Sports, UTEPComments Off on UTEP Basketball Head Coach Rodney Terry Announces 2018-19 Schedule
Arizona, Marquette, and long-time rivals New Mexico and NM State are featured opponents as first-year UTEP men’s basketball head coach Rodney Terry revealed the Miners’ 2018-19 hoops schedule on Monday.
The Miners will embark on the innovative Conference USA “smart” schedule, while playing 16 regular-season games in the Don Haskins Center during the upcoming season.
“We’re excited about announcing our 2018-19 schedule. Coach [Lamont] Smith has done a great job with our scheduling, and considering the timeframe that we had to work with when we started,” Terry said. “I feel like our staff has pieced together a very competitive schedule – one that will challenge us is our difficult conference slate. I feel like our conference will be very good from top to bottom. I feel like our non-conference schedule will help us prepare for conference play.”
Following a home exhibition against New Mexico Highlands on Oct. 30, Terry and his revamped squad will open the new era of UTEP basketball against UT Permian Basin on Tuesday, Nov. 6 at 7 p.m. in the Haskins Center.
The Miners will then play at NM State in the FirstLight Federal Credit Union Battle of I-10 on Nov. 9. The Miners and Aggies will meet in the Sun City on Nov. 28.
After its contest at Arizona (Nov. 14), UTEP will host Eastern New Mexico on Nov. 19. The remaining non-conference home matchups include Northwestern State (Dec. 1), UC Riverside (Dec. 16), and a pair of contests in the 57th annual WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational.
The Miners will open with Norfolk State on Dec. 21 and will play the winner of the East Tennessee State-Wyoming game on Dec. 22 in the oldest collegiate holiday basketball tournament in the nation.
Other non-conference road opponents include New Mexico (Nov. 24), and Marquette (Dec. 4).
“Our philosophy in scheduling a lot of times is we want to try and schedule games in non-conference that help us prepare for conference play,” Terry said. “Playing in a hostile environment on the road will help us when we get a chance to play in a very tough place when conference starts. We’ll be prepared and will be ready to go.”
The new C-USA schedule format will see the 14 teams play each other once and their travel partner twice in the first seven weeks of the conference season. Following the first 14 league games, teams will be placed into one of three groups based on their conference standing. The teams will be divided into two groups of five (1-5 and 6-10) and a group of four (11-14).
During the final three weeks, teams will play four games (two home/two away) within their respective grouping. Home and away matchups will be determined by a preset formula.
“We’re super excited about [Conference USA’s ‘smart scheduling’]. The direction of our league with Judy MacLeod, what she’s been able to do with her staff and the help of some outside sources to come up with a really good plan for us,” Terry said. “I think it’s something on the cutting edge and outside the box in terms of really trying to be creative. This will give ourselves a chance to be, not only successful in postseason play, but to protect some of the teams that are doing really well throughout the course of a season and into conference play to have a higher seed and maybe along as well, pick up a multi-bid type situation when we have other teams eligible for postseason play. It’s a great idea, great plan and one that we’re excited about because it gives [C-USA] a chance to be a multi-bid league.”
Once all 18 games have been completed, the top 12 teams based on the final league standings will be seeded in the conference tournament. Teams will be guaranteed seeding within their respective group. For example, if a program lands in the second group (6-10), it will seed no higher than sixth and no lower than 10th in the tournament field.
UTEP will open the league slate against travel partner UTSA in back-to-back contests, the first on Jan. 3 in San Antonio, while the Miners and Roadrunners will meet again on Jan. 5 in the Don Haskins Center.
UTEP’s other prescheduled home C-USA opponents are North Texas (Jan. 10), Rice (Jan. 12), Old Dominion (Jan. 24), Charlotte (Jan. 26), Florida Atlantic (Feb. 7) and FIU (Feb. 9).
The Miners’ remaining prescheduled road league games are at UAB (Jan. 17), Middle Tennessee (Jan. 19), Marshall (Jan. 31), WKU (Feb. 2), LA Tech (Feb. 14) and Southern Miss (Feb. 16).
With the newly formatted conference schedule, five open dates (Feb. 23, Feb. 27, March 2, March 6 and March 9) are on the slate for the four remaining games. The 2019 Conference USA Championship is scheduled for March 13-16 in Frisco, Texas.
UT El Paso July 10, 2018Sports, UTEPComments Off on UTEP MBB Head Coach Rodney Terry Announces 2018-19 Roster
After long months of travel and recruiting, first-year UTEP men’s basketball head coach Rodney Terry has solidified and officially announced the Miners’ 2018-19 hoops roster on Tuesday.
The revamped roster includes 18 total players, including four letterwinners returning from last season.
“We’re excited about announcing this class and this roster for this coming season,” Terry said. “My staff has done a great job identifying student-athletes who we think can come in here, represent this program and this community the right way, both on and off the court.”
The 2018-19 roster features senior Paul Thomas, junior Isiah Osborne and sophomores Evan Gilyard and Kobe Magee.
The 12 newcomers include Souley Boum, Ountae Campbell, Gilles Dekoninck, Jakobe Dill, Kaosi Ezeagu, Nigel Hawkins, Efe Odigie, Deon Stroud, Garrett Sullivan, Anthony Tarke, Tydus Verhoeven and Bryson Williams.
“We have several youngsters here on campus right now and a couple of other guys joining as the summer comes to a close,” Terry said. “But we’re excited about this group along with four returning scholarship players back from last year’s team with one senior being Paul Thomas. Along with the four scholarship players, we have two walk-ons as well. So, it gave us six returning guys from last year’s roster. We have 12 new additions, as eight of those guys are recruited guys we brought on board and four of those guys will be preferred walk-ons. So, our roster is set at 18 guys at the moment. Some guys will participate this year and there will be some guys who won’t participate with this year’s recruiting class.”
Freshman Brandon Averitt and redshirt junior Isaiah Rhyanes are the pair of walk-ons from last season’s roster.
Boum (San Francisco), Dekoninck (Fresno State), Tarke (NJIT), Verhoeven (Duquesne) and Williams (Fresno State) will sit out the 2018-19 season due to NCAA transfer rules, while Stroud, a freshman, will also sit out to focus on academics. The incoming freshmen include Dill, Ezeagu, Hawkins and Odigie.
“We feel like this recruiting class helps us this year and helps us moving into the future, in terms of our recruiting class for 2019 as well. We still have some needs, obviously, in 2019 that we need to cover for our program. But we feel like we got off to a great start,” Terry said.
#25 Brandon Averitt
Freshman | Guard | 6-1, 150
2017-18 SEASON: Worked with the scout team.
#3 Evan Gilyard
Sophomore | Guard | 5-10, 155
2017-18 SEASON: Started in 13 of 31 games played … averaged 9.1 points per game and 3.9 assists … set a UTEP record by connecting on 84.4 percent from the charity stripe … ranked seventh in Conference USA in free throw percentage … led the team in free throws made (81) and attempted (96) … also posted a team-best 19 charges drawn … averaged 10.6 points per game in C-USA play … concluded freshman campaign by scoring a career-high 29 points against UTSA on a season-high 36 minutes in the C-USA Tournament … dished out a career-high six assists in his collegiate debut against Louisiana College … set career-bests in free throw attempts (10) and free throws made (nine) against FIU.
#15 Kobe Magee
Sophomore | Guard | 6-1, 150
2017-18 SEASON: Made 16 starts in 30 contests played … averaged 4.5 points per game, 2.0 rebounds per game and 1.7 assists per contest … led Conference USA in three-point field percentage for league games only (.531) … overall, shot 44.2 percent from the field and 42.5 percent from beyond the arc … ranked second in C-USA in three-point percentage for all games … assist/turnover ratio was a team-best 1.58 (52-33) and ranked second on the squad in assists (52) … made 31 three-point field goals, tied for fourth all-time among UTEP freshmen … put up career-high 16 points against New Mexico … played a season-high 37 minutes and scored 11 points against UTSA … dished out a season-best eight assists at LA Tech … registered a career-high five rebounds three times (vs. Lamar, vs. Howard, at UTSA).
#13 Isiah Osborne
Junior | Forward | 6-5, 180
2017-18 SEASON: Started in 19 of 29 contests played … led the Miners in scoring for Conference USA games (11.9 ppg), and overall ranked third on the squad at 9.4 points per contest … added 3.7 rebounds per game and registered a .328 three-point percentage and .627 free throw percentage … started 14 of the 17 C-USA contests that he appeared in … scored in double figures 12 times … led the team in scoring (17 points) in his UTEP debut against Louisiana College … scored season-high 25 points at LA Tech … put up 22 points and grabbed seven boards at Charlotte … paced UTEP with 21 points during a victory against FIU … recorded 20 points on a season-most five three-pointers at UTSA.
#54 Isaiah Rhyanes
Junior | Center | 6-9, 220
2017-18 SEASON: Worked with the scout team and did not see game action.
#1 Paul Thomas
Senior | Forward | 6-8, 210
2017-18 SEASON: Started in 29 of 31 games played … averaged 8.1 points per game with a .461 field goal percentage … tied for the team lead in rebounding (5.4 rpg) … ranked 19th in Conference USA in rebounding … corralled six rebounds versus Boise State … made the first two three-pointers of his college career at NM State, part of a 14-point showing … added five rebounds versus the Aggies … tallied 11 points and five boards versus Washington State … led the Miners in points (16) and rebounds (eight) against Incarnate Word … collected 12 points and seven rebounds versus North Dakota State … posted eight points, six rebounds and a team-high three assists in the C-USA opener against North Texas … added nine points versus Florida Atlantic … scored 12 points at UTSA … posted seven points at UAB while leading the Miners in rebounds (six) and assists (three) … made both of his three-point attempts and scored 10 points versus WKU … led UTEP by securing seven rebounds against Marshall … picked up his first double-double of the season versus UTSA with 11 points and 11 boards … hit the game-winning jumper with 2.6 seconds remaining in an 87-86 triumph at Charlotte … registered his second consecutive double-double against the 49ers with 15 points and 11 rebounds, while adding four assists and two steals … posted 12 points and eight rebounds at Rice … tallied six rebounds versus UTSA in the C-USA Tournament.
#0 Souley Boum
Sophomore | Guard | 6-3, 160
Oakland, Calif. (Oakland Tech HS/San Francisco)
PRIOR TO UTEP: Earned West Coast Conference All-Freshman team honors after ranking second on the squad and 25th in WCC in points per game (10.9) as a true freshman at San Francisco during the 2017-18 campaign … started in 12 of 36 contests played for the Dons … led USF with 121 free throws made, a USF freshman record … connected on a team-high 82.9 percent of his free throws, while ranking sixth in WCC … scored 394 points (second-most points by a freshman in USF history) … pulled down 95 rebounds, dished out 37 assists and recorded 19 steals … registered 20-plus points in seven different contests, including a season-high 26 on 8-of-11 shooting at Portland … matched season high in points with another 26-point effort against Colgate on 9-of-16 shooting (season high in made field goals) … in back-to-back games, combined to make 24-of-27 free throws (17 points on 12-14 FTs vs. UCSB, 16 points on 12-13 FTs vs. Eastern Washington) … added a season-high seven rebounds against Eastern Washington … dished out a season-high four assists against Pepperdine … opened collegiate career with a 22-point performance against Long Beach State (8-of-9 FTs) and followed with a 21-point effort in his second collegiate contest.
PERSONAL: Full name is Souleymone Boum … son of Mariam Diallo … born in Oakland, Calif. … nickname is Sou.
— Ountae Campbell
Sophomore | Guard/Forward | 6-4, 195
Los Angeles, Calif. (Fresno State)
PRIOR TO UTEP: Redshirted at Fresno State during the 2016-17 season … played in seven games as a freshman during the 2015-16 season with the Bulldogs … logged 12 minutes for an average of 1.7 minutes per game … posted two points and three rebounds … posted a dunk in the Bulldogs’ win over Pacific … played at Brentwood High School … named CIF All-Division-V Team … All-Alpha League first team … team captain … averaged 13.5 points per game, 3.5 steals per game and 7.0 rebounds per contest as a senior … played on the varsity squad during the sophomore (7.3 ppg) and junior (7.0 ppg) campaigns.
#33 Gilles Dekoninck
Sophomore | Forward | 6-6, 205
Diest, Belgium (Huntington Prep/Fresno State)
PRIOR TO UTEP: Played seven games during the 2017-18 season at Fresno State … scored two points on only shot attempt and tallied a rebound against Cal State Monterey Bay … made a free throw against UC Santa Cruz … registered a rebound against Colorado State … played three minutes twice (vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff, vs. Cal State Monterey Bay) … while a senior at Huntington Prep, averaged 20 points, four assists and seven rebounds per contest … scored 16 points during a win against Teays Valley Christian White … was a member of the Belgium U18 National Team.
PERSONAL: Gilles Dekoninck is the son of Bert Dekoninck and Lucette Bokken … has one sister … born in Diest, Belgium.
#5 Jakobe Dill
Freshman | Guard | 6-3, 175
Beaumont, Texas (Beaumont Central High School/Heritage Academy [SC])
PRIOR TO UTEP: Ranked by TexasHoops.com as the no. 38 player in the Class of 2018 rankings … played at Heritage Academy (South Carolina) during the 2017-18 season … named team MVP after averaging 28 points per game during senior season … paced Heritage Academy with 17 points against Redemption Christian (NY) … went 9-of-11 from three-point range in just 24 minutes against Savannah Fall … scored 20 points (6-9 3pt.) versus West Ridge Academy … poured in 26 points against York Prep … named 2016-17 District 22-5A MVP while at Beaumont Central HS … named 2017 Beaumont Enterprise Super Gold Boys Player of the Year after averaging 24.6 points, 6.4 rebounds and three assists during the 2016-17 regular season … led Jaguars to a 13-1 record in 22-5A and a co-district title … scored a game-high 31 points against Class 4A no. 1-ranked Silsbee Tigers while with club team Houston Defenders, and scored 14 points against DC Blue Devils … All-District 22-5A second team in 2016.
PERSONAL: Full name is Jakobe Rashad Dill … son of Jay and Christie Dill … has four sisters … born in Dallas, Texas … cousin, Rashard Lewis, a two-time all-star who played in the NBA for 16 seasons (Seattle SuperSonics 1998-2007, Orlando Magic 2007-10, Washington Wizards 2011-12 and Miami Heat 2012-14) … nickname is Kobe.
#25 Kaosi Ezeagu
Freshman | Forward | 6-10, 240
Brampton, Ontario (GTA Prep at Mississauga Secondary School)
PRIOR TO UTEP: Top-24 player in Canada after averaging 11.4 points per game and 10.4 rebounds per contest during the 2017-18 season … named the Defensive Player of the Year by the National Preparatory Association … averaged a double-double, making him the only player in the league to achieve the feat … named co-MVP of the Signature All-Canadian Showcase … made the start and finished with eight points and seven rebounds during the 2018 BioSteel All-Canadian basketball game on April 9, 2018 … played at Hamilton Heights Christian Academy in Chattanooga, Tenn., during 2016-17 campaign … efforts helped Hawks to a 31-7 overall record, including a USA National Prep Tournament championship on March 4, 2017 in Myrtle Beach, S.C. … has a 7-1 wingspan with comparisons to Serge Ibaka of the Toronto Raptors by hashtagbasketball.com.
PERSONAL: Kaosi Ezeagu is the son of James and Patience Ezeagu … has one brother … born in the Bahamas … also played soccer, volleyball and football in high school.
#2 Nigel Hawkins
Freshman | Guard | 6-4, 185
Houston, Texas (Cypress Falls HS)
PRIOR TO UTEP: Ranked the no. 15 player in the state by TexasHoops.com … two-time All-State and State MVP as a junior at Cypress Falls High School … rated the no. 6 player in Houston by RCSSports.com … back-to-back District MVP as a junior and senior after leading Cypress High School in scoring at 21.1 and 17.9 points per game, respectively … tallied 14 contests of 20-plus points, helping Cypress to a 31-4 overall record with a 13-0 district mark … the Eagles advanced to the 6A Region 1 & 3 quarterfinals … during senior campaign, scored a season-high 33 points while adding six boards during a victory against Mitchell … opened final high school season with a 30-point effort while adding eight rebounds and five assists in a win against Tompkins … poured in a career-high 36 points and dished out three assists during junior season against South Houston … District Newcomer of the Year as a sophomore after averaging 14.0 points, 3.0 assists, 5.9 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game … recipient of the 2017 Guy V. Lewis Award … 2018 Houston Sports Authority Boys Basketball High School Player of the Year nominee.
PERSONAL: Full name is Nigel Duron Hawkins … son of Steve Michael Hawkins and Tonya Hawkins-Medina … has two brothers and one sister … born in Houston, Texas … father played in the NBA for four teams (Boston Celtics in 1997, Sacramento Kings in 1999, Charlotte Hornets from 1999-2000 and Cleveland Cavaliers from 2000-01) … uncle, Eric Snow, played in the NBA (Seattle SuperSonics from 1995-98, Philadelphia 76ers from 1997-2004 and Cleveland Cavaliers from 2004-08) … likes to golf as a hobby … nickname is Hawk Time.
#32 Efe Odigie
Freshman | Forward | 6-9, 280
Houston, Texas (Pro-Vision Academy)
PRIOR TO UTEP: Rated the no. 22 player in the state by TexasHoops.com … top-10 player in Houston by RCSSports.com … state champion … averaged a team-leading 14.2 points and 7.4 rebounds while shooting 61.2 percent from the field for the Houston Hoopstars on the 2017 summer circuit … scored 20-plus points in 13 contests and recorded 12 double-doubles … notched a season-high 26 points during a win against Shooting Stars-blue … opened 2017 summer circuit with a 23-point effort versus TJ Ford … recorded first double-double of summer after posting 23 points and 11 rebounds against RL9 Grey in the second game of the summer … registered second double-double, scoring 20 points and pulling down 12 rebounds against LA United in the third contest … registered a season-high 16 rebounds and scored 16 points against LCCAVS … pulled down 15 boards at Triumph Gold … averaged 1.2 blocks per game … blocked season-high five shots at SSA … registered four blocked shots against Houston Hoops DJ.
PERSONAL: Full name is Omoefay Johnson Odigie … son of Curtis Odigie and Paula Lafleur … has one brother and three sisters … born in Houston, Texas … graduated valedictorian in high school … mother played basketball at Nicholls State and sister, Tiffany, played basketball at Alabama State … nickname is Alpha.
#23 Deon Stroud
Freshman | Guard/Forward | 6-5, 190
Fresno, Calif. (Trinity International [Las Vegas, Nev.])
PRIOR TO UTEP: Rated as a three-star prospect by ESPN … averaged 20.5 points per game, 10 rebounds per game and seven assists per contest … named All-District … selected to the Fresno Bee’s All-Star team in 2017 … named team MVP after averaging 20.1 points per game and 10.5 boards per contest during junior season … played freshman (6.5 ppg) and sophomore (17.0 ppg) seasons at San Joaquin Memorial (Fresno, Calif.) … Panthers went a combined 51-13 during those two seasons … named All-State and All-District during sophomore season.
PERSONAL: Full name is Deon Jeremin Stroud … son of Leroy Harris and Shay Greathouse … has one brother and one sister … uncle, Carl Ray Harris played basketball at Fresno State … born in Fresno, Calif. … played football in high school … nickname is Deon.
#20 Garrett Sullivan
Freshman | Guard | 6-5, 190
Easthampton, Mass. (Williston Northhampton HS/Hillcrest Prep Academy [AZ])
PRIOR TO UTEP: Two-year letterman at Hillcrest Prep Academy (AZ) … won the 2016-17 Grind Session National Championship … averaged 15 points and six assists per contest at the shooting guard position during senior season … scored 16 points, including three 3-pointers against Belmont in the quarterfinals of the NEPSAC Class A Tournament … scored team-high 19 points in a victory against Salisbury … earned 2018 All-NEPSAC Class A honorable mention … recognized as one of the top guards in the state by the New England Recruiting Report … scored 18 points, helping Williston secure a NEPSAC Class A tournament berth … chipped in with 10 points during a victory versus Pomfret.
PERSONAL: Garrett Sullivan is the son of Tim and Lisa Sullivan … has two sisters.
#12 Anthony Tarke
Sophomore | Guard/Forward | 6-6, 220
Gaithersburg, Md. (Gaithersburg HS/New Jersey Institute of Technology)
PRIOR TO UTEP: Will sit out the 2018-19 season per NCAA transfer rules and have two years of eligibility starting in 2019-20 … led NJIT in scoring last season (15.7 ppg) and ranked second in rebounding (6.2 rpg) … garnered first team All-Atlantic Sun Conference honors … registered career-high 27 points and grabbed nine rebounds at Kennesaw State … matched career best with another 27-point effort at Lipscomb … dished out a season-high six dimes and scored 17 points against FDU … notched a double-double that included 19 points and a career-high 12 rebounds at Rutgers … pulled down 11 rebounds and tallied 20 points for second double-double of season at North Florida … tabbed an Atlantic Sun Conference All-Freshman Selection in 2016-17 after averaging 9.9 points and 4.7 rebounds per game… opened collegiate career with a double-double (13 points, 10 rebounds) against Sarah Lawrence … notched second career double-double with a season-high 23 points and 10 boards against North Florida … registered third double-double (15 points, 10 rebounds) versus Stetson … named ASUN Newcomer of the week twice, the first was for averaging 17.5 points and 8.0 rebounds during a two-game span (Jan. 9-15), while the second was for an 18-point, seven-rebound effort during a win against USC Upstate.
PERSONAL: Full name is Anthony Shey Tarke … son of Elizabeth Tarke and Willibroad Anthony … has two brothers and two sisters … born in Washington D.C. … named to honor roll in high school.
#4 Tydus Verhoeven
Sophomore | Forward | 6-9, 215
Manteca, Calif. (Menteca HS/Duquesne)
PRIOR TO UTEP: Played in all 32 contests during freshman season at Duquesne … started final 27 games of the 2017-18 season … broke school’s freshman blocked shot record (71) … eighth freshman in the 42-year history of the Atlantic 10 to lead the league in blocks (2.22 bpg overall/2.33 in A-10 games only) … exploded for a season-high 21 points on a 7-for-7 effort from the field and 7-for-8 at the free throw line against Saint Louis … played a season-best 34 minutes, while recording four blocked shots and chipping in with four rebounds and three assists against the Billikens … tallied a season-high nine boards, blocked seven shots, dished out three dimes and scored 12 points against Robert Morris … blocked a season-high nine shots (DU freshman record) and dished out a career-best five assists, while adding four points and eight rebounds against George Mason … grabbed eight rebounds and blocked three shots at VCU … averaged 16.5 points per game, ripped down 12.7 rebounds per contest, blocked 6.0 shots per game and chipped in with 2.8 assists on average as a senior at Menteca High School … named Valley Oak League MVP by conference coaches after leading the Buffaloes to a 14-0 league record.
PERSONAL: Tydus Verhoeven is the son of Jodi Verhoeven … mother played basketball at Fresno State (1991-94) and was drafted by the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks … born in Baldwin Park, Calif. … also participated in track for two years and football and volleyball for one year each at Manteca HS.
#11 Bryson Williams
Junior | Forward | 6-8, 225
Fresno, Calif. (Roosevelt HS/Fresno State)
PRIOR TO UTEP: Rated a Top-5 Division I transfer by CBBCentral.com … previously played at Fresno State for two seasons … made 58 starts in 65 games played (2016-17, 2017-18) … averaged 14 points per game during sophomore season, ranking second on the squad … earned All-Mountain West third team honors … led the Bulldogs in total rebounds (195) and rebounds per game (6.1) … ranked second on the team in points (441) and field goal percentage (59.6) … posted four double-doubles … scored 22 points and pulled down nine boards at Arkansas … poured in a career-high 30 points on 14-of-17 shooting in a triumph against Cal State Monterey Bay … recorded a career-high 13 rebounds and scored 10 points during a win against CSU Bakersfield … registered 19 points and 10 rebounds in a victory against Colorado State … played a season-high 40 minutes (14 points, eight rebounds) at New Mexico … scored 23 points and tallied nine rebounds against San Diego State in the MW Tournament … averaged 7.7 points and 4.4 rebounds per game during freshman season (2016-17) … scored season-high 18 points at Utah State … matched season best with another 18-point effort at San Diego State … Roosevelt High School all-time leading scorer with 2,302 points, which ranks as the fifth-most in Central Section history and the most-ever in the city of Fresno … averaged 34 points and 18 rebounds per game during senior season.
PERSONAL: Son of Donald and Corinthia Williams … has a younger sister.
UT El Paso June 8, 2018Sports, UTEPComments Off on UTEP’s Rodney Terry Appointed to NABC Division I Congress
UTEP Men’s Basketball Head Coach Rodney Terry has been tabbed the congressman for Conference USA on the National Association of Basketball Coaches Division I Congress.
Terry takes the spot previously occupied by Florida Atlantic head coach Michael Curry.
“I’m deeply honored and very excited to represent Conference USA on the NABC Congress,” Terry said. “I was fortunate to serve in this role at Fresno State, and look forward to doing so again at UTEP. The Congress plays such a critical role, working with the NCAA and its committees to better the lives of our student-athletes while continuing to elevate our great game.”
The NABC Division I Congress conducts a conference call monthly, in addition to an annual in-person meeting during the NABC Convention.
Terry led Fresno State to four 20-win seasons and three postseason tournaments in the last five years, including the 2016 NCAA Tournament after the Bulldogs captured the Mountain West Conference championship. He took the reins of the UTEP program on March 12.
Terry coached 15 All-Conference players in seven seasons at Fresno State, including the 2016 MWC Player of the Year Marvelle Harris. He previously was an assistant coach at Texas for nine seasons, during a stretch where the Longhorns racked up 232 victories, nine NCAA Tournament bids, a Final Four berth in 2003 and trips to the Elite Eight in 2006 and 2008.
While at Texas, he helped recruit 10 McDonald’s All-Americans including current NBA standouts LaMarcus Aldridge, Kevin Durant and Tristan Thompson.
Staff Report May 31, 2018SportsComments Off on Team Line Up Announced for 2018 Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational
The Sun Bowl Association and WestStar Bank are pleased to announce the teams coming to El Paso for the 57th Annual WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational, which will be held in the Don Haskins Center, Friday and Saturday, December 21-22.
The four-team tournament includes two top-100 (RPI) teams and a former UTEP-conference rival from the Western Athletic Conference. Wyoming returns to El Paso for the holiday tournament and joins East Tennessee State, Norfolk State and home team, UTEP on the hardwood.
“We appreciate all the hard work that the Sun Bowl committee puts into hosting this tournament, and finding quality opponents to compete in it year in and year out,” said UTEP Head Coach Rodney Terry.
East Tennessee State is making its first appearance in the oldest collegiate holiday basketball tournament in the nation, while Wyoming is making its second appearance. The first time the Cowboys played in the WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational was in 2007, going 1-1 that year.
This is Norfolk State’s third appearance in the Invitational after making it to the championship game in 2015. The Miners have played in every tournament since it began in 1961.
“We are thrilled about this year’s field. We are hoping to continue our plan of bringing in the best teams we can find,” Sun Bowl basketball committee chairman Barry Kobren said.
“East Tennessee posted an RPI of 92 and Wyoming finished with an RPI of 98 last year. With the addition of new UTEP head coach Rodney Terry and some great recruits coming to El Paso, this looks to be a very competitive tournament once again.”
The North Dakota State Bison defeated the UTEP Miners 63-51 in the championship game of the 2017 WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational to take home the hardware on Friday, December 22, 2017 in the Don Haskins Center. NDSU used a 19-2 scoring run during the final seven and a half minutes of the game to secure the victory.
Guard Paul Smith, who was awarded the Barry Kobren Most Valuable Player Trophy, led all players with 19 points. Sophomore guard Tyson Ward, who was named to the all-tournament team, tallied 10 points and 11 rebounds.
“This tournament has become a tradition and the history of teams and players that have come through El Paso is tremendous,” Sun Bowl Association Executive Director Bernie Olivas said. “Our basketball committee, which is led by Barry Kobren, continues to seek out and work towards bringing quality teams to the Don Haskins Center and El Paso.”
In 2009, the tournament was renamed to honor former UTEP head coach and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer Don Haskins. “The Bear” coached at UTEP from 1961 to 1999, winning 719 games and making 14 postseason appearances. Haskins famously led the Miners to victory in the 1966 National Championship game over Adolph Rupp and the heavily favored Kentucky Wildcats.
Officials added, “The Sun Bowl Association would like to thank WestStar Bank for supporting the nation’s oldest holiday basketball tournament as it has been the title sponsor for 10 consecutive years.”
ABOUT THE 2018 TEAMS
East Tennessee State
ETSU head coach Steve Forbes enters his fourth season with the Buccaneers, and has totaled 76 wins and a .724 win percentage in his first three seasons. Forbes holds the 14th highest win percentage among current NCAA Division I head coaches.
ETSU is a member of the Southern Conference and has made 10 trips to the NCAA Tournament, while totaling 22 conference championships in program history.
The Buccaneers are coming off a 25-win campaign in 2017-18, including a 16-game win streak, which tied a program record and also stood as the longest win streak in the country at one point during that run. The Blue and Gold also tied a program record with 11 true road wins a year ago.
ETSU boasts one of the nation’s longest three-point streaks, as the Bucs have made at least one three-pointer in 963 consecutive games, marking the seventh-longest active streak.
Norfolk State Spartans
Head Coach Robert Jones (Sixth Season)
NSU finished 14-19 overall last year, 11-5 in the MEAC.
The Spartans tied for 4th in the league standings in 2017-18, the first time in 7 years they did not finish 3rd or better.
They have still finished 4th or better in the league in 11 of the last 12 seasons.
NSU set school records last year for 3-pointers (254) and 3-point field goal % (35.9)
The Spartans ranked in the top 60 in the nation last year in turnovers forced, rebounds per game and field goal % defense.
Head coach Robert Jones is 87-82 in his 5 seasons, including 58-22 in MEAC games.
Played in the 2015 WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational Championship.
Head Coach Rodney Terry (First Season)
UTEP Basketball enters a new era in 2018-19 as Rodney Terry was appointed the 19th head coach in program history on March 12.
Terry posted four 20-win seasons in the last five years as head coach at Fresno State, leading the Bulldogs to the 2016 NCAA Tournament.
Joining Terry on the UTEP staff are assistant coaches Lamont Smith, Brian Burton and Nick Matson, and Director of Basketball Operations Mark Gisbertz.
The Miners return four key players from the 2017-18 season in senior forward Paul Thomas (8.1 ppg/5.4 rpg), junior guard Isiah Osborne (9.4 ppg) and sophomore guards Evan Gilyard (9.1 ppg) and Kobe Magee (4.5 ppg). UTEP also introduces a talented group of incoming freshmen including forward Kaosi Ezeagu, guard Nigel Hawkins and center Efe Odigie.
Head Coach Allen Edwards (Third Season) has won 20 or more games in his first two seasons as head coach.
Wyoming is led by First Team All-Mountain West Player Justin James.
The Pokes will play their first game in El Paso since 2008 when UW played in the Sun Bowl Invitational.
The Cowboys have hit over 300 three pointers in each of the last three seasons.
Wyoming has had two of their all-time top three scoring seasons in two seasons under Edwards.
UT El Paso May 14, 2018Sports, UTEPComments Off on Weaver Tabbed As UTEP Assistant Women’s Basketball Coach
UTEP head coach Kevin Baker announced Monday that Kayla Weaver has been appointed as an assistant women’s basketball coach.
Weaver joins the Miners after most-recently guiding San Jacinto College (Houston, Texas,) to a 25-11 record and the Region XIV Tournament Championship. The squad established program records for wins while also securing the initial NJCAA National Tournament victory in the team’s final season of play. Three of her players were selected to the All-Region Team and she was voted as the NJCAA District L Coach of the Year.
“Kayla did an outstanding job leading her team to regional championship and the National Tournament this season,” Baker said. “She has proven that she is ready to jump to the next level of Division I Basketball. I have worked with Kayla before and have found her to be a very loyal and hardworking basketball coach. She is known as one of the brightest and best of the up-and-coming coaches in the country. We have gained a solid recruiter and an even better person. We are very excited to add her to the Miner Family.”
Weaver served as an assistant coach under current Miner assistant coach Michael Madrid at San Jacinto College from 2015-17 before being elevated to the top spot. In that timeframe she aided the team to forging a combined record of 46-20, including 28-12 within conference play.
The program made its initial appearance in the national tournament (2016-17). Additionally there was one NJCAA All-American, four All-Region XIV Team honorees and five who garnered All-Conference status.
She previously spent one season as an assistant under Baker at UT Tyler. The team rolled to a record of 27-3, including 19-1 in league action. It was ranked in the top-25 poll and advanced to the round of the 32 at the NCAA Division III tourney. Prior to that she was an assistant coach for Panola College. During her time there the program made a pair of Region XIV Tournament appearances.
Weaver began her playing career with Panola College. She was a first-team All-Conference and first-team All-Region selection, in addition to meriting academic first-team Region XIV accolades. Weaver was also chosen as the Panola College Buddy Lowery Award Winner, which recognized the top academic athlete in the graduating class. She then moved on to Texas Woman’s University, helping the team win the 2010-11 Lone Star Conference title. She was an All-LSC first-team member and was the 2011 Tournament MVP.
Weaver earned her undergraduate degree from Texas Woman’s University with a bachelor of science-mathematics in Dec. 2011. She secured a master’s degree in kinesiology from the university in July 2016.
Staff Report April 11, 2018Sports, UTEPComments Off on UTEP Basketball Coach Rodney Terry Tabs Smith as Top Assistant
UTEP Men’s Basketball Head Coach Rodney Terry named Lamont Smith to his staff on Wednesday.
“I’m excited to hire Lamont as my top assistant here at UTEP,” Terry said. “From afar I’ve had the pleasure of watching him successfully recruit, develop and coach young men at some of the top programs in men’s college basketball. Coach Smith is a tireless worker who understands the commitment needed to build a program that is able to sustain success at a high level. He will play a key role in helping me establish a competitive program that educates and develops young men into productive adults.”
“My family and I are ecstatic about the opportunity to join the UTEP basketball program,” Smith said. “It’s like a dream to have the opportunity to be back in my home state of Texas coaching at a university with such a rich tradition of success in college basketball. Working with one of the top coaches in Rodney Terry made this an easy decision for me.”
Smith most recently served as the head coach at the University of San Diego for three seasons. The Toreros made significant strides under his leadership, posting marks of 9-21 in 2015-16, 13-18 in 2016-17 and 20-14 in 2017-18. San Diego’s West Coast Conference record also climbed from 4-14 in 2015-16 to 9-9 this season.
The 2017-18 Toreros featured three All-Conference players – senior forward Isaiah Pineiro (first team), junior guard Isaiah Wright (second team) and junior guard Olin Carter III (honorable mention) – and ended their season in the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament. Their non-conference schedule was highlighted by victories at NM State (65-60) and Colorado (69-59).
Smith coached a second team All-WCC Player (senior forward Brett Bailey) during the 2016-17 season, in which the Toreros knocked off eventual NIT participant BYU at home.
A native of The Colony, Texas, Smith has previous assistant coaching stints at Saint Louis (1999-2001), Saint Mary’s (2001-07), Santa Clara (2007-08), Arizona State (2008-12), Washington (2012-13) and New Mexico (2013-15).
He returned to San Diego, his alma mater, after helping New Mexico to 42 wins in two years as Associate Head Coach. The Lobos put together a stellar 2013-14 campaign, finishing 27-7 and 15-3 in the Mountain West Conference while reaching the NCAA Tournament. With Smith overseeing the defense, UNM yielded 66.1 points per game while holding opponents to a .389 field goal percentage.
While at Washington, Smith assisted Lorenzo Romar to an 18-16 mark and 9-9 record in the Pac-12 Conference, along with a berth in the NIT. It marked the second time that Smith worked with Romar; he got his start in coaching as a graduate assistant at Saint Louis from 1999-2001 when Romar was coach of the Billikens. His duties at Saint Louis included coordinating the team’s video editing and film exchange, while assisting with team’s recruiting, scouting and strength and conditioning programs.
Smith’s tenure at Arizona State produced a couple of 20-win seasons, and the Sun Devils reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament in 2009. Smith played a critical role in the development of 2009 Pac-10 Player of the Year and current Houston Rocket James Harden.
Prior to joining Herb Sendek’s staff at Arizona State, Smith served as Kerry Keating’s top assistant at Santa Clara. He helped compile one of the top recruiting classes in the West Coast Conference during his stint with the Broncos.
Smith spent six years as an assistant on Randy Bennett’s staff at Saint Mary’s, renewing a relationship that started when the two worked together at Saint Louis. He helped engineer a major turnaround with the Gaels, as they climbed from two wins the year before his arrival to a school-record 25 in 2004-05. That year Saint Mary’s made only its third all-time NCAA Tournament appearance. The 2003-04 squad set a school record by scoring 2,377 points. Saint Mary’s was stout on both sides of the ball; in the first four seasons that he was on the bench, the Gaels led the WCC in scoring defense.
Smith played at San Diego from 1994-99, starting every game for an 18-9 squad as a senior. He was named the Toreros’ Defensive Player of the Year in 1997 and 1999 and served as team captain from 1997-99. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from San Diego in 1998.
Smith and his wife, Kim, have two daughters, Payton (12) and Olivia (11).
Our very own Andres Acosta was there and brings you his view of Terry’s news conference in this Story in Many Pics + Video. Coach Terry’s comments are after the
Rodney Terry Opening Remarks
“Good afternoon. I’m so thankful to have you all here today. I’d like to say thank you to God for this opportunity. Without him, I wouldn’t be here with my strong faith, belief and religious values. I’d like to thank my family – my mother, my father, who is a 30-year head coach in high school basketball in the state of Texas as well. I’d like to thank the Fresno State players and administration for an incredible seven years — President Castro, our AD Steve Robertello, our athletic department and all my players. We’ve been up to something special there, and I’d like to personally thank each and every player for their dedication to our program. I love them like my own sons.
“I want to extend a special thanks to my mentors. I wouldn’t be here today if I didn’t have a lot of great people that I got a chance to work with and be blessed to be in their presence over the course of my career. Harry Miller gave me my first opportunity in college coaching at Baylor University. He gave me a lot of responsibilities, was a tremendous man of integrity, and was also a man who helped me understand what it takes to run a successful program. Jerry Wainwright, who is on my current staff right now, I got a chance to work with Jerry out at UNC Wilmington. Jerry taught me just about everything that I know in terms of recruiting. Again, another man with a lot of integrity. We got a chance to build a successful program there. And I got a chance to later add him on my staff at Fresno, and he has been an unbelievable force there. Rick Barnes, who I talk to on a regular basis as well. He has had a chance to bring new energy to the Tennessee program. He was coach of the year in the SEC. But he’s an even better person than a coach, a guy who taught me a great amount about how you run a program, run it with integrity, do it the right way, how you communicate with your players and how you treat people as well. All great mentors for me, and I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for those guys.
“I want to also thank Dr. Natalicio and Jim Senter for their tremendous leadership during this process. This university is truly in great hands with their vision, and the reason why I chose to be here today. They are unbelievable ambassadors for this university. UTEP is a special place. It has great tradition, great history and an incredibly passionate fanbase. It’s the only school in the state of Texas with a national championship. Let’s give it up! I’m proud of that. And I’m sure we’ll be even more proud of that at the end of March as well. But I want to build on that. I want to build on the tradition, I want to build on the history. I want to have a connection with this campus. I want to be connected to the faculty, the staff, the students and the alumni. I want to be accessible, I want to be visible. I obviously want to have you guys come and support us at a very high level. But I also want you to have a feel for myself, our players and our program. Our success is going to be predicated on you guys being very supportive of us. We’re going to be visible, we’re going to be out and hopefully gaining your trust because that’s what we’ll be working on every single day, to build a program that you’re going to be proud of on a daily basis.
“I’d also like to recognize the tremendous coaches here, starting with the legend Don Haskins. I had a chance as a kid to watch his teams play with unbelievable tenacity on defense, just the way his teams competed at a very high level. I have so much respect for him and what he was able to do here and I got to see it first-hand myself. I watched games on TV in the Haskins Center, and just a phenomenal coach. Billy Gillispie, who I got a chance to work with at Baylor University for a couple of years and also helped me grow as a young coach in the business. Every day, I remember going into the office and Billy getting on me saying ‘Rodney, we’re 100 yards behind everybody right now. You’ve got to roll your sleeves up. We’ve got to work every day man.’ He really instilled in me that this is a business and one that you can’t take lightly and every single day that you walk in, you’ve got to think like a head coach and act like a head coach. Billy Gillispie has an unbelievable work ethic. His teams always play extremely hard. You guys are familiar with that, and he had a great career here as well. Doc Sadler, he had some tough, hard-nosed teams. He’s a really good coach as well. Tony Barbee really built a program here and had a great amount of success and got to go to the NCAA Tournament. And I’d be remiss to not recognize the yeoman’s work that homegrown Tim Floyd did here. He worked extremely hard, he’s a coach I have a tremendous amount of respect for, and did special things here as well. But a lot of great coaches that I’m following in the footsteps of.
“We played here four years ago in the CBI Tournament, and for our program at that time, it was a huge deal. We were really trying to turn the corner, we were trying to get our guys to buy into postseason play. So it was critical for us. And we were excited about the opportunity. But I came out early before the game because I wanted to look around and take it all in. In the midst of being out there early and seeing the passionate fans – you’ve got 5,000 fans in the building already – and the passion in the building, the energy and excitement in the building, it just made you look around and say ‘Wow. This is a place that is passionate and cares about basketball and they’re here to support their team.’ And this is truly a dream for me to be here today. I have really admired this place from afar in terms of the passion. It’s a basketball community where basketball really means something. And there’s a lot of passion for you to be successful here.
“I’m very excited about the opportunity to get a chance to work with the current team right now. It’s a very difficult time for them right now, a time of uncertainty. I have had the chance to reach out to many of those guys on the team right now and let them know that I’m excited about getting to know them, but more importantly them getting the chance to know me as well.
“I’d like to backtrack a little bit. As I’ve said, I’ve admired this place from afar. Glory Road the movie, I’ve seen it countless times. I can’t count the number of times I have watched that movie. I mentioned it to our team a few weeks ago. There are a lot of sleepless nights that you have as a coach, as your season is going along. I had one night about four in the morning where I couldn’t sleep, I had a thousand things running through my mind. And I still have a DVD player, and in that DVD player was Glory Road. So I turned it on and I was watching it and it’s always so inspirational to me. I was a huge fan of coach Haskins and the way he coached and the way his teams played. To just watch that movie and get a chance to see those guys, I can watch it over and over. Bobby Joe Hill, Willie Cager, David Lattin, Nevil Shed, 1966 was a special year and to win a national championship at that level at that time, still to this day is unbelievable. It’s an unbelievable feat, not only for this community to be proud of but the entire country to be proud of, what those guys did and what that team did and the way it brought everyone together. It was so inspirational and I hope at some point with my guys to take an appreciation for that, really try to buy into that type of team and hopefully have those kind of results at some point. I’m not saying we’re going to win a national championship because everything has to line up, but I’d love to be able to win a national championship here and do that as well.
“We’re going to try to hang our hats on two things every night. We’re going to hang our hats on our effort, our preparation, we’re going to try to be the hardest playing team on defense every night that we take the floor. I’d like to think that when you walk out of the Haskins Center, that you’re going to walk out of there whether we win, lose or draw, you walk out of there and say ‘Man, you know what, that team gave it all they had. They left it all on the floor. And they played with a passion for themselves, for their university, and for this community.’ And we did it at a very high level.
“I always said to my guys on a regular basis, and I challenge them and hold them accountable, to being a cut above. Being a cut above in the classroom. Being a cut above on the court and off the court, because I firmly believe if you have slippage off the court, it’s really hard for you to be good on the court and have a high level of success doing that. So I hold my guys to a very high standard in terms of the academic piece. We’re going to go into a lot of homes and we’re going to do a great job of selling our brand and our institution here. I’m never going to promise a parent that I’m going to put a kid in the NBA. There’s not one coach in America that can put a kid in the NBA. But I will promise them that I’m going to do my part, that they’re going to get an education that they’re going to feel proud about and they’re going to walk away with a degree. And in the process, they’re going to hopefully have developed as young men that are going to be able to go back to their communities and be great husbands, great fathers, great providers, and be givers back in their communities. But we’re going to have a very high standard and that’s something as I left Fresno State that I was very proud of. We got a chance to build a very special program there over seven years. But I was more proud of my guys getting their degrees and having a chance to better their lives and be unbelievable providers moving forward in the future.
“I’ll talk a little bit about some important things that are going to be the building blocks of trying to be successful here and bring back a high level of basketball to this great institution, that being recruiting. Recruiting is the life blood of every program. Every successful program has got to have players. You’ve got to get out and you’ve got to have guys. I always go by the old adage that we try to recruit really good kids that really want to be good players. But they’ve got to be good kids, good character so they can buy into the things that we’re trying to ask them to do at a very high level. So we’re going to try to recruit the most talented guy that we can who’s going to represent this university and this community the right way. We’re going to have an aggressive mindset in the recruiting aspect. We’re going to recruit Texas very aggressively. We always like to start inside and work our way out nationally. When you’re talking about trying to win a league, it’s important that you try to get guys that can play in the Big 12, guys that can play in conferences above you. In order for you to win that league you’ve got to have high-level players. And we’re going to try to do a great job, my staff and I, identifying really good character guys that can be really good players for us and to help take our program to another level here.
“From a basketball standpoint, we’re going to try to put a very exciting, fast-playing team on the floor. I know a lot of times people say ‘What’s your style of play, how are you going to play?’ In a perfect world, you have an idea of the way you want to play. But a lot of times you’ve got to come in and assess your talent level of what you have right now and what gives you the best chance to win right now. In a perfect world, we want to play extremely fast. We want to score early in transition. If we don’t have that, we want to be able to have a team that moves the ball well, shares the ball well but more importantly, plays a very exciting brand. We like to get up the floor defensively, some form of pressure up the floor, and then in the halfcourt we’re going to try to sit down and really guard and be a hard-nosed, physical playing defensive team. We know every night we’re going to be able to hang our hat on defense. We can’t control how well we shoot the ball or whether we’re going to shoot the ball extremely well on a given night. We’d like to think we’re going to make more than we miss, because we’re going to put a lot of time into practicing shooting the basketball. But every night, we’re going to hang our hat on defense. And we know at the end of the day if we can have that as a form of our identity, we’ll have a chance to win championships.
“So every night you come into the Haskins Center, you’re going to see a team that’s going to be out there leaving it all on the floor, diving for loose balls, taking charges, doing whatever it takes defensively to put ourselves in position to win the ballgame. Offensively we’re going to get out there and find a way, whether we need to play inside out, whether we need to attack the basket a little bit more and try to get to the foul line. We’re going to play an aggressive style of basketball and again, one that hopefully you’ll be excited about coming back to see and enjoy watching on a regular basis.
“But I’m excited about this opportunity, I’ve been blessed enough to be able to be in a similar situation at Fresno State where we went in and we had to build a program from ground zero. We didn’t take any shortcuts, we tried to do it the right way with a lot of integrity. As I alluded to earlier, we tried to go out and attract the best talented guys that were really good character kids that we knew could come in and represent the program the right way. And they did that for us. They bought in to what we were trying to do. And we had to nurture that culture every single day. It’s no different from what we’re planning to do here. I’m going to put a great staff together that’s going to come in and help us build this program step by step. I’d like to think that it can happen overnight. We’re going to try to do it as quick as we can. But we’re not going to take any shortcuts. We’re going to do it where we can have sustained success. I’d like to think that I left Fresno State much better than the way I found it. For the last four years, we’ve had a chance to compete for conference championships. We had teams that every year I felt like could win our league. But we built it the right way, we built it where every year we felt that we could be a contender for the conference championship. And that’s what we plan on doing here. We plan on doing it the right way, with a lot of integrity, with a lot of energy, a lot of passion, and more importantly a lot of pride in who we are and who we’re representing. We want to make you guys proud. We want to make you come out and want to be supportive. Again, we welcome you to come out at times when we have open practices, come out and watch us practice. But more importantly, I want our guys to be great ambassadors in this community and carry themselves the right way.”
(On why he chose to come to UTEP)
“I want a homecourt. We played in a very competitive league in the Mountain West. We played in many great venues. We got a chance to build that program to a very high level. But there were nights where we had to create and bring energy to the building. I know the passion here, I know the passion when Miner Basketball is playing at a very high level, you’re able to have an unbelievable homecourt here. I often said to myself if I was in this position again and blessed to have an opportunity, to have a chance to move and go somewhere else, I want to go to where there’s a lot of passion for the basketball program and you have people who really want to get behind what you’re trying to do. We have that here at a very high level. You can go to a Big 12 school and talk about their venues and things of that nature there, but you’re not going to find a more passionate fan base than here and that’s the one thing that drew me in here, one that I have always admired from a distance, unbelievable basketball commitment here. And you get this going at a high level, wow. Watch out. But that’s the thing that really was the major attraction to me — the passion, the community, everybody trying to get behind what you’re trying to do at a very high level. And for me, this was the right time and the right place. I’m a Texas guy. I wanted to get back to my region, back to Texas, and this is the perfect place and perfect time and perfect opportunity for me.”
(On putting his staff together)
“We’ve got to hit the ground running. We’ve got five scholarships to fill. We’re going to be very selective in terms of who we choose to bring into our program. I do have a staff in mind already. I’d like to bring a lot of the guys that I have currently on my staff right now with me. I’ve got one of my current staff members that is involved with the job and would be interviewing for the job at Fresno State with the hope of keeping some continuity there and maintain what we were able to do there. But I’m hoping to have the majority of my staff coming with me here.”
(On recruiting to UTEP)
“First of all, we have a great sell. It’s based on a number of the things that I said earlier in terms of our fan base, the support here, our facilities here are second to none in everything that a recruit needs. We get a kid here on campus and we have a great sell for this community, for our campus here. I think if we get them here, we have as good of a chance as anybody to get him. I’m excited about recruiting a very high level guy here that’s going to have a chance to be successful both academically and from a basketball standpoint as well.”
(On speaking with the returning players)
“Those guys, they are kind of scattered right now all around. Some are back home, some are on vacation with their parents right now. But as I got a chance to speak to each guy, each guy was initially very excited about me reaching out and calling those guys and talking to them right now. Very positive conversations. I think guys are very excited about me, and I’m excited about meeting them and getting on the floor with them and finding out more about them as players and people as well. I think the general feeling was those guys were very excited about a new staff and what we’re going to try to do here moving forward.”
(On battling for postseason tournament berths in Conference USA)
“Every year we are going to have our goals, and they’re not going to change from day one. Our goal is going to be to win a conference championship. And from there, we’re going to want to try to advance in postseason play. I think there are a number of different things that you need to align to put yourself in that position as a program – scheduling and competing at a very high level over the course of the season. We’ve got some really good coaches in Conference USA. We’ve got some really good venues in our league, along with some really good players. You get one NCAA participant, you get two NIT participants. It’s really hard to get to the NIT. We had two NCAA participants in the Mountain West this year and we had one NIT. And last year we had three NIT’s and one NCAA. This year, we thought we were very warranted of an NIT bid as well in terms of the body of work that we did this year and the teams that we competed against as well. It’s very difficult a lot of times because at that point of the season, it’s out of your hands. All you have to go on is your resume in terms of your body of work and what you were able to do. But again, I never looked at it as a deterrent in terms of having to win your league to try to get to the NCAA Tournament. That’s what we all have goals and aspirations to do every year. And I think you build your team to be playing its best basketball at the right time to put yourself in position to be able to win the conference championship, to win the Conference USA Tournament as well, and hopefully have a chance for postseason play. But our league had three postseason teams, and I think Middle Tennessee did a good job with the scheduling piece in terms of who they were playing. I thought they honestly played well throughout the season. Some of it, again, is out of your control. I got a chance to watch Middle Tennessee play this year a couple of times. They passed the eye test in terms of looking like an NCAA Tournament team. I guarantee you, a lot of teams don’t want to play those guys on a neutral court somewhere, and that’s what it gets down to in the NCAA Tournament. But I think our league from top to bottom can be a multi-bid league. I said the same thing about the Mountain West Conference every year. I think we should be a multi-bid league.”
(On building a championship contender)
“I think you have to challenge yourself outside of your conference play to prepare yourself for conference play. I think you always, as you go into a situation, you want to really look and see who are the best teams in the league. Who do we want to mirror ourselves against. When we went into the Mountain West, San Diego State and New Mexico, those guys were the top dogs in our league. And who did we want to mirror ourselves to look more like and to put ourselves in position to win the championship? And we chose San Diego State. They were long, they were athletic, they could really guard defensively, and it took us about two years to get those kinds of guys but we reached a point to where we mirrored that same type of team. So you look at the top teams in the league, you try to mirror some of those and then you try to put yourself in position to be one of the top competitive teams.”
(On reviving student support at UTEP)
“They bring tremendous energy to the building. When you’re able to have the students involved and getting behind the team and supporting their fellow students, that makes a huge difference in your environment. There at Fresno State, myself I’m very visible, I’m very active and I said earlier I want to have a connection to our campus community. A lot of times prior to the season, I’ll go out and speak to just about every student group myself personally, and try to make a connection with those guys. And not only myself, I take a couple of players with me because these are the guys that we’re hoping to have goodwill for, that you’re going to feel good about coming out to support. And then we have those guys through campus a little as well. They’ve got to be very visible. In this day and time, you’ve got to be aggressive to get students to come out. There are so many things that they’ve got going, they’ve got school, some of them are working, they’re doing all sorts of different type things. But you’ve got to take a vested interest in them. We’re only going to be as successful as our community support and our student support. It’s a big part of who we are and what we’re going to be in terms of moving forward. We need you guys to help us be successful. But I will be very involved in speaking to every student group, trying to get them involved, we may even have a day where they come over and watch us practice and after practice they come down and get the chance to mingle with the players. Or maybe shoot some free throws with the players. Just kind of interact. But you’ve got to be proactive in this day and time in terms of reaching out and embracing and bringing them in. You can’t wait for them to come. The same thing with this community, I’ve got to get out, I’ve got to be very visible, I’ve got to gain your trust, I’ve got to gain your goodwill, I’ve got to want you to be excited about what we’re doing and what our brand is going to stand for. And I’d like to think that I’m still young enough to have the energy to do that. I’m getting ready to turn 50, but I have the energy to get out and do that. I want to be very personable and I want you to know that you have access to myself and I appreciate your support, just like I’m going to appreciate them coming to support us in our arena.”
(On Director of Athletics Jim Senter)
“We’ve got a superstar in Jim. Jim gets it. He’s got a lot of energy. We made a great connection in our interview process. He was really the deciding factor for myself in terms of wanting to team and partner up with a guy that is passionate about trying to bring back a lot of goodwill to this community in terms of the support. I’ve been starving for leadership and partnership in terms of the position that he’s in. I was really excited with his vision and his enthusiasm for where he’s at and what he’s doing. And not only that, the people he has worked with in the past that I’ve had a chance to work with spoke so very highly of him and the way he carries himself and the way he goes about business. He was a major reason why I decided to take this challenge on and be a part of what we’re doing here.”
(On which players he needs back for 2018-19)
“As I’ve had a chance to look at the roster and interact with some of the players, I don’t want to lose any guy. I think every guy is valuable. There’s not one guy that’s more valuable than the other guy. And that’s the way I’m going to treat my players. I’m big on not being a favoritism kind of guy. I think you’re only as strong as you’re so-called weakest guy or not the strongest guy. But I treat everybody the same. Whether you’re a walk-on or the star of my team, you’re the same guy and I expect the same things from yourself and I treat you the same. So we need everybody. I don’t need to lose anybody right now to be honest with you. With that thought in mind, I’m going to try to keep every single guy if I can.”
(On embracing former UTEP players)
“The thing I’ll say to our former players, you’re always going to be vested in what we’re doing. Everything that we’re doing, you’re going to be a part of. Your guys’ sweat, your blood and tears with this program, you’re vested in everything that we do and you’re going to be welcome at any time, whether it’s practice, whether it’s games, to interact with our staff and interact with our players. We want you around. You are very important to us. You are unbelievable ambassadors for our athletic program. But you guys are going to be welcome with open arms to come in and be a part of what we’re doing. We’re going to create an unbelievable family and you’re a part of our family.”
(On scheduling Texas teams)
“We’ve got Big 12 Texas Tech right across the way a little bit there. We’d like to try to do something with Chris Beard. I don’t know if Chris wants to do that, but we’ll try to reach out a little bit with Texas Tech. I would love to. Even being far out in Fresno, we came back and played a lot of teams in the Southwest. We came back in and played a lot of Big 12 schools. We played some SEC schools. But I think it’s very important early in the year that you challenge yourself, you challenge your team, you get a gauge for where you are, you try to play a highly competitive schedule, one that’s going to put you in position hopefully to make postseason play. But no, I’d love to be able to go out and play a competitive schedule against some of the Big 12 guys not only on their homecourts but maybe entice them to come back here and play on our homecourt. We did that our West. We played everybody in the Pac-12. We played Oregon the last three years. We got Oregon to come to our place this year. We had to go there twice. But we got them to our place and we had a very winnable game and a very competitive game. Those are the kinds of things that we’ll try to do here as well. We’ll try to not only go away and play, but we’ll try to entice them to come to our place as well and compete here in El Paso as well. We’ll definitely try to do that. Without naming names with the exception of Texas Tech so close I had to name those guys, but you could say the same with Arizona. Arizona is close by as well. But no, we’d like to play some of the Texas teams and obviously see where we stack up against those guys to get a good gauge of what we are. Obviously, any time we play those guys we play to win. We’re not just playing them to play them. So that’s going to be our mindset.”
(On the transfer epidemic in college basketball)
“It has definitely changed the landscape of college basketball for sure. This time of the year, I know for us at Fresno State over the last seven years, you have different phases of the year. You’re really in coach mode, and there are times you are in recruit mode. This time of the year for our staff, I challenge our staff every year to get back in recruit mode, but more important not so much recruiting other players, but we have to keep recruiting our players because other people are trying to recruit our players. We’ve got to go and re-recruit our guys again. We’ve got to have those guys feel good about what we’re doing, where we’re going and what we want to try to get better with in the future. So we spend a lot of time with our players. In this day and time with this generation it’s so important that you have great relationships with your players, not just in basketball but away from basketball. You have to have an unbelievable relationship with them. And that may be over a lunch, that may be over a dinner, that may be over several phone calls on a regular basis, but you’ve got to touch them every single day. That’s something that we’ve taken a lot of pride in. We haven’t lost a lot of guys in that regard because we try to re-recruit our guys, no differently from what we’re going to try to do here. We have ourselves benefitted at times at Fresno State with transfers. In the Mountain West, I always thought that you needed to try to stay older. We tried to have a blend of young players and older players. If you go in there with a lot of young players, boy it’s really tough. You’ve got to have a blend with some older players. The thing we try to do with the transfer market ourselves is we try to re-recruit guys that we maybe didn’t get the first time around. Maybe we initially started recruiting that kid earlier in his career and the next thing you know, he goes from a Mountain West caliber guy and all of a sudden he’s a Pac-12 guy and he doesn’t take our calls anymore. But we don’t ever blow any bridges up. We keep those bridges and those relationships open. Maybe he goes somewhere and he’s not as happy there and the next time around, he’s calling us and saying ‘Hey, can I come back and help you?’ But we’re fortunate enough to be able to take guys that we have had relationships with. We didn’t do much in the market of taking guys that we didn’t have relationships with.”
Rodney Terry, who led Fresno State to the 2016 Mountain West Conference Tournament title and three postseason bids in the last five years, was appointed the 19th head coach in UTEP men’s basketball history on Monday.
His hiring is subject to approval by the UT System Boards of Regents.
“We are delighted to welcome Coach Terry to El Paso and we’re excited about the future of UTEP Basketball under his leadership,” UTEP President Diana Natalicio said. “He’s enjoyed a very successful tenure as Fresno State’s head coach, and he’s well-known as an effective recruiter with deep ties to the Lone Star State. We look very much forward to bringing him back to Texas to usher in a new era of Miner Ball.”
“We are very pleased to welcome Rodney Terry to the UTEP family,” Director of Athletics Jim Senter said. “He’s a great fit for us with his Texas connections and his proven track record as a coach and recruiter. He’s a proven winner and will represent this proud program well.”
“I’m super excited about an unbelievable opportunity at the University of Texas at El Paso,” Terry said. “It’s a program that has experienced a very high level of success and has a great basketball tradition that I’m looking forward to building upon.”
Terry, 49, guided the Bulldogs to a record of 126-108 in seven seasons as head coach (2011-18), including 20-win campaigns in four of the last five years. Fresno State compiled a 62-58 mark in Mountain West Conference play over the last seven years, with double-digit victories in each of the last four campaigns.
A native of Angelton, Texas, Terry makes his return to the Lone Star State. He played his collegiate ball at St. Edward’s University in Austin, and began his collegiate coaching career as an assistant with the Hilltoppers in 1990.
Following three coaching stints at high schools in the state of Texas – including as the head coach at Somerville HS and his alma mater Angleton HS – Terry served as an assistant coach at Baylor (1996-98), UNC Wilmington (1998-02) and Texas (2002-11) prior to landing the head coaching position at Fresno State.
In seven seasons at Fresno State, Terry coached players who earned a total of 15 All-Conference accolades, including two-time (2015-16) first team All-Mountain West guard Marvelle Harris. This year, guard Deshon Taylor became the second Bulldog to garner first team All-League honors under Terry’s watch.
Terry also coached second team All-League Kevin Olekaibe (2012) and Tyler Johnson (2014) and third teamers Taylor (2017) and Bryson Williams (2018). He coached the MWC Freshman of the Year Paul Watson in 2014 and the MWC Player of the Year Harris in 2016. Three of his players – Harris (2015-16), Jaron Hopkins (2017) and Taylor (2018) – earned spots on the MWC All-Defensive Team.
Under Terry’s direction, Fresno State forged 21 victories during the 2013-14 season, 25 in 2015-16, 20 in 2016-17 and 21 in 2017-18. The Bulldogs went 10-8 in the MWC in 2014-15, 13-5 in 2015-16 (second place), and 11-7 in both 2016-17 and 2017-18.
In 2016 Fresno State knocked off UNLV (95-82), Colorado State (64-56) and San Diego State (68-63) at the MWC Tournament in Las Vegas to earn the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament – the Bulldogs’ first trip to the “Big Dance” in 15 years. Harris was tabbed the MWC Tournament Most Outstanding Player.
Fresno State’s 25 wins in 2015-16 were the third-most in school history and the Bulldogs closed the season strong, winning 11 of their last 12 games.
Terry also led Fresno State to an NIT appearance in 2017, and a CBI bid in 2014. The Bulldogs finished runner-up in the CBI in 2014, and their chase to the finals included a 61-56 win at UTEP.
His 2014-15 squad notched the school’s first win over a top-25 team (San Diego State) in 13 years. The 2013-14 Bulldogs posted the program’s first 20-win season and postseason appearance in seven years while making a dramatic turnaround in MWC play. Fresno State rallied from a 1-7 league start to finish 9-9. During the 2012-13 campaign, the Bulldogs secured their first-ever win at UNLV.
Known as an outstanding recruiting and bench coach, Terry has coached two national players of the year and has been a part of 12 teams that advanced to the NCAA Tournament.
His nine-year tenure as an assistant coach at Texas produced nine NCAA Tournament appearances including a Final Four berth in 2003, trips to the Elite Eight in 2006 and 2008, and four Sweet 16 showings. The Longhorns fashioned a mark of 232-80 during that span, the winningest nine-year period in school history.
They posted 30 victories during both the 2005-06 (30) and 2007-08 (school-record 31) seasons, and 28 during the 2010-11 campaign. In January of 2010, Texas reached the no. 1 spot in the country for the first time in school history.
During Terry’s time on the bench, a total of 10 McDonald’s All-Americans made their way to the UT campus (Brad Buckman 2002, LaMarcus Aldridge 2004, Daniel Gibson 2004, Mike Williams 2004, D.J. Augustin 2006, Kevin Durant 2006, Jai Lucas 2007, Avery Bradley 2009, Cory Joseph 2010, Tristan Thompson 2010).
Terry also ran point on the recruitment of 2011 UT signee Myck Kabongo, who competed in the 2011 McDonald’s All-American Game. Texas’ recruiting class was rated number one nationally in 2004, third in 2006 and 2009 and eighth in 2010.
Texas’ National Player of the Year recipients were T.J. Ford in 2003 and Kevin Durant in 2007. Ford (2003) and Durant (2007) joined D.J. Augustin (2008) as consensus first team All-Americans during Terry’s time as an assistant, and Augustin claimed the Bob Cousy Award as the nation’s top point guard in 2008.
In all, Terry coached 13 players at Texas that were chosen in the NBA Draft, including nine first-round selections and five lottery picks in Ford, Aldridge, Durant, Augustin and Thompson. Texas was the only school in the country to have a Top-10 pick in the 2006, 2007 and 2008 NBA Draft, and the Longhorns had three players chosen in 2010 and 2012.
Prior to joining Rick Barnes’ staff in Austin, Terry assisted coach Jerry Wainwright at UNC Wilmington for four seasons. The Seahawks made three postseason tournament appearances during this stretch, reaching the NCAA’s in 2000 and 2002 and the NIT in 2001. During the 2001-02 season, UNC Wilmington set a school record with 23 victories and scored the initial NCAA Tournament win in school history, upsetting USC 98-89 in overtime in the first round.
Terry assembled a top-30 recruiting class at UNC Wilmington and, during the 2001-02 season, was named the co-mid/low-major Assistant Coach of the Year by TheInsiderHoops.com, which he shared with Valparaiso’s Scott Drew (now the head coach at Baylor).
Prior to joining the staff at UNCW, Terry served two years as an assistant coach at Baylor (1996-98). He spent one season (1995-96) as the varsity coach at Angleton High School and two years as the head coach at Somerville High School. Terry posted a 15-13 mark at Angleton and a 49-21 record at Somerville, leading the school to the Class 2A state semifinals in 1993-94. He also worked for two years (1991-93) as an assistant coach at Austin Bowie High School.
Terry earned his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a minor in Physical Education from St. Edward’s University in 1990. During his collegiate career, he was a three-year starter at point guard and a three-time Academic All-Big State Conference selection. The Hilltoppers won the Big State Conference title during his freshman season (1986-87), and he served as team captain during his junior and senior campaigns.
Staff Report March 10, 2018UTEPComments Off on H-P Sports In Depth: A Look Back at the 2017-18 UTEP Basketball Season
The UTEP men’s basketball team capped a tempestuous 2017-18 season by winning four of its last seven games, including a thrilling 68-66 triumph at North Texas (March 3) that catapulted the Miners to the Conference USA Championships for the 13th time in 13 years.
There were storm clouds even before the season got underway, as the departure of 6-11 Kelvin Jones and 6-10 Joey St. Pierre left the Miners severely short-handed in the frontcourt. Then, six games into the season UTEP lost its coach, as Tim Floyd announced his retirement after leading the Miners to a 138-99 mark (75-43 C-USA) in seven-plus years at the helm of the program.
UTEP went 5-7 in the non-conference portion of the schedule. Among the highlights was a 100-50 rout of Louisiana College in the season opener (Nov. 10). The Miners blew out to a 32-0 lead in that game, coming within two points of tying an NCAA record (Seton Hall led Kean 34-0 to start the game on Nov. 29, 1998). UTEP scored 100 points in a season opener for only the third time against the Division III Wildcats.
A series of near-misses over the course of the season began with a 58-56 loss to Boise State in the opening round of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off on Nov. 16 in Myrtle Beach. The Miners led the Broncos, 56-51 with under a minute remaining before Boise State closed the game with a 7-0 run, including a three-point play by Chandler Hutchison for the deciding points with 3.1 seconds left.
It was the first of 11 games that the Miners would lose by nine points or less in 2017-18.
UTEP would finish 0-3 at Myrtle Beach and drop six consecutive games overall during a stretch where Floyd turned over the reins to long-time assistant Phil Johnson. The Johnson era got off to a promising start with a 4-1 record in its first five games, including back-to-back victories over New Mexico (Dec. 2) and Washington State (Dec. 9) in the Don Haskins Center.
Senior guard Omega Harris scored a career-high 28 points in the 88-76 triumph over the long-time rival Lobos, missing just two shots all night (9-for-11 from the field, 4-for-4 from three-point range, 6-for-6 from the line). A week later, the Miners dispatched a red-hot Washington State team 76-69 with a big second half.
A UTEP team that traditionally got off to a fast start in Conference USA play struggled to a 1-4 mark in its first five league games. The Miners broke through with a 72-68 victory over FIU (Jan. 13) in the Haskins Center but would lose their next six games, including five to teams that would finish in the top-five of the league standings.
In mid-February, UTEP stood 2-10 in C-USA play and was fighting for its life to make the league tournament. The game at Charlotte (Feb. 15) was pivotal as the Miners were just a game up on the last-place 49ers.
Seeking its first road win of the season, UTEP led by as many as 22 points in the first half. But Charlotte came roaring back, forging a seven-point lead with six minutes to go. The Miners, however, dug deep and outscored the 49ers 12-4 over the final 5:58, as junior forward Paul Thomas’ jumper with 2.6 seconds left propelled UTEP to an 87-86 victory.
The Miners had taken a big step towards a C-USA Tournament berth but, coupled with Rice surging down the stretch, needed to take care of business in the final homestand of the season. And that they did, as senior center Matt Willms’ tip-in with 25 seconds left scored a 74-72 win over LA Tech (Feb. 22), and the Miners put together one of their better all-around outings of the campaign with a 73-44 drubbing of Southern Miss in the home finale on Feb. 24.
UTEP had a two-game lead over Rice for the final spot in the C-USA Tournament with two games remaining, but its position became more precarious when the Owls knocked off the Miners, 76-70, on March 1 in Houston.
Suddenly, UTEP needed to win at North Texas (March 3) to guarantee a spot in the league’s pinnacle event. Once again, the Miners stepped up with their backs against the wall. They outrebounded (18-17) and outscored (40-37) the Mean Green in the second half and rallied for a 68-66 triumph on Willms’ game-winning dunk off an alley-oop pass by freshman guard Evan Gilyard with three seconds left.
The Miners’ season ended four days later in Frisco, as they once again had trouble scoring and rebounding against fifth-seed UTSA. The Miners averaged 67.5 points per game for the season and were outrebounded by an average of 4.7 per outing.
Miner seniors Jake Flaggert, Harris and Willms combined to play in 359 collegiate games and scored 2,619 points. Flaggert finished his career ranked 13th in school history in three-point field goal percentage (.366) and is the Miners’ all-time leader in charges drawn (67). Harris is second in three-point field goals (174), fifth in minutes (3,767), eighth in three-point percentage (.388), ninth in scoring (1,407 points) and 10th in steals (126).
Willms, who overcame numerous injuries during his six years at UTEP, finished third in the record book in field goal percentage (.574) and fourth in blocked shots (125).
As the senior class moves on, a group of newcomers showed promise for the future. Sophomore guard Isiah Osborne was the Miners’ leading scorer for C-USA games only (11.9 ppg) and scored 20+ points four times, all versus league opponents. Guard Evan Gilyard led UTEP with five 20-point games, including a UTEP freshman record 29 versus UTSA in the C-USA Tournament. Gilyard set a school record for freshman free throw percentage (.844).
Kobe Magee led C-USA in three-point percentage for league games only (.531). His .425 overall three-point percentage rates fourth in the UTEP freshman record book, and his 31 three-point field goals are tied for fourth among Miner freshmen.
Freshman swingman Trey Wade averaged 7.2 points for the season and picked up the first double-double of his collegiate career (10 points/10 boards) in the season finale against UTSA. Freshman forward Tirus Smith showed signs of being a force inside despite missing six C-USA games with a knee injury. On Jan. 25 at UAB, UTEP had three freshmen score in double figures in a game (Wade 22 points, Gilyard 14 points, Magee 11 points) for the first time since 1982.
With their inside game diminished, the Miners took the offensive attack outside and set a school record with 224 three-point field goals. That narrowly eclipsed the 223 made during the 2015-16 season. The 2017-18 squad was the first in school history to make 11 or more three-pointers in three consecutive games (Rice, Southern Miss, LA Tech). UTEP’s .371 three-point percentage in C-USA play was second only to Old Dominion’s .383.
In the end, UTEP’s 11-20 record was filled with “what-ifs.” The Miners tied the school record by losing four C-USA games in which they led at halftime. They also lost nine C-USA games by 10 points or less. But in a turbulent year, they ended the season strong to keep their string of C-USA Tournament appearances intact. Now a new coach will take the helm of the program in 2018-19, and work to build a contender for the league title.
Staff Report March 8, 2018Sports, UTEPComments Off on UTEP Battles But Falls To Top-Ranked UAB In C-USA Quarterfinals
FRISCO, Tx – Tamara Seda registered her 15th double-double (15 points, 14 rebounds) of the year and ninth-seeded UTEP made a valiant effort before top-seeded UAB pulled away down the stretch to down the Miners, 75-66, in the quarterfinals of the 2018 Conference USA Championships at the Star Thursday.
The Blazers (25-5) advance to face fifth-seeded Rice in the semifinals while the Miners (17-14) bow out of the event and most likely conclude the campaign having more than doubled their overall win total (8-23) from a year ago.
UTEP dug itself an early double-digit deficit (15-5, 3:39 1Q), but Seda and the rest of the Miners refused to go down quietly against the regular-season champion Blazers. UTEP clawed back within two (33-31) at the half before eventually vaulting out to a five-point lead (56-51) with 58 seconds left in the third quarter.
UAB responded by wrapping a 12-0 run around the quarter break, and it never trailed again. UTEP did score the game’s next four points to get within three (63-60) with 6:17 left but an 8-2 push over the next four minutes sealed the Miners’ fate. Overall UAB outscored UTEP, 20-10, in the decisive frame.
“I’d like to thank everybody here in Frisco and everybody who made this tournament possible,” UTEP head coach Kevin Baker said. “The best team won today. They’re the number one seed for a reason. They played really well, especially down the stretch. I hate that for our team because I thought we battled so well to be with them in the fourth quarter. But UAB did what champions do. They hit clutch shots in the stretch.”
Jordan Alexander (11 points), Zuzanna Puc (11 points) and Jordan Jenkins (career-high 10 points) joined Seda in double figures for scoring. UTEP connected on 44.7 percent (21-47) from the floor, including 60.0 percent (6-10) from distance, in addition to winning the boards (35-29) but too many turnovers (19) proved costly.
UAB was paced by 21 points from Deanna Kuzmanic, with Rachael Childress (15 points), Miyah Barnes (13 points) and Katelynn Thomas (10 points) joining her in double figures for scoring. The Blazers nailed 46.2 percent (30-65) from the floor despite UTEP holding the nation’s fifth-rated 3-point shooting team to 32.3 percent (10-31) from beyond-the arc.
Seda, the lone senior on the squad, finishes her impactful three seasons in the Orange and Blue second for career double-doubles (26), fourth in field-goal percentage (49.4), fifth for rebounds (717), sixth in blocked shots (89) and tied ninth for rebounding average (7.5). She is also placed in the career rankings for free throws made (236-12th), free throws attempted (356-13th), games started (61-16th), minutes played (2339-18th), points (909-20th), individual wins (54-tied 24th) and games played (96-tied 26th).
“Tamara has been nothing short of our leader and we appreciate everything she’s done for UTEP women’s basketball,” Baker said. “Our hats are off to her, what she does and what she means to the city of El Paso.”
The two sides traded scores early on, with a deep 3-pointer by Faith Cook tying the tilt, 5-5, on a 3-pointer that she was fouled on. She couldn’t convert on the ensuing free throw, though, and UAB took off. The Blazers ripped off 10 consecutive points to put the Orange and Blue down 10 (15-5) with 3:39 to play in the opening frame.
Roeshonda Patterson made a driving lay-up to stop the surge but UAB answered immediately with a transition lay-up to once again make it a 10-point tilt (17-7). UTEP was able to inch within seven (23-16) heading to the second quarter.
Jenkins drilled a 3-pointer from the corner to get the Orange and Blue within four (25-21) early into the second frame but UAB answered immediately with a lay-up and eventually went back out by six but a Jenkins lay-up followed by a Seda score got it to within two. It was back-and-forth the rest of the frame, with UAB holding the small edge at the break.
The Miners took their first lead (36-35) of the game on a triple from Katarina Zec early in the third quarter. That play started a thrilling sequence which featured a pair of lead changes and four ties over the next seven minutes. UTEP then put together its best stretch of the day by peeling off eight consecutive points to surge out by five (56-51) with 58 seconds left. UAB got two scores to close the quarter, cutting the lead to one (56-55) through three 30 minutes of action.
The Blazers continued the run over the first two minutes of the final frame, to wrap up that aforementioned 12-0 surge. UTEP battled down the stretch but couldn’t get closer than three the rest of the way.