Andres Acosta | El Paso Herald-Post
Year two of the Rodney Terry era will get off to an early start as the UTEP men’s basketball head coach will direct a revamped roster as the Miners will host 2019 NCAA national runner-up Texas Tech in a charity exhibition Saturday, October 12.
“It’s the start of a new season and there’s always a lot of buzz around a new team,” Terry said. “We’re excited about our guys, their work ethic and what they’re doing to prepare. We’re going to bring tremendous effort every night and we need El Paso to get behind us!”
Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. in the Haskins Center and tickets are $10 with general admission (first come/first served) seating.
The exhibition game is not part of the 2019-20 season tickets as all proceeds will benefit the victims of the August 3rd tragedy.
Tickets are on sale at the UTEP Ticket Center, located at 2901 N Mesa next to the Don Haskins Center and the UTEP Ticket Center East Side location (1452 Zaragoza Suite A-1500. Tickets can also be purchased by calling (915) 747-5234 as well as online.
Parking for the contest will not be reserved and will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Terry’s second-year roster will feature a mix of four returning sophomores (Jordan Lathon, Nigel Hawkins, Kaosi Ezeagu and Efe Odigie), seven transfers (sophomore Kaden Archie, sophomore Souley Boum, sophomore Tydus Verhoeven, junior Anthony Tarke, junior Eric Vila, junior Bryson Williams and graduate student Daryl Edwards) and freshman Deon Stroud.
“We had a number of these guys last year who sat out, but practiced every day. They’ll start their competition right now along with Eric Vila, who’s a newcomer for us,” Terry said. “We’re talking about Bryson [Williams], talking about Tydus [Verhoeven], Anthony Tarke, [Souley] Boum and Kaden Archie. They were all guys who sat out a year ago and practiced with us every day and they get a chance to make their debut this Saturday.”
Regarding the returnees – Lathon led the Miners with 74 assists last season, Hawkins paced the team in scoring (13.9 ppg) in league only games, Ezeagu led in blocked shots (24), and Odigie averaged a double-double (12.7 ppg, 10.1 rpg), as he was the first Miner to do so since the 1981-82 season.
“We recruited Jordan [Lathon] as a point guard, we signed his as a point guard and he’s a young player who’s continuing to develop at that position,” Terry said. “Nigel is a guy who we’re challenging to be a combo guard, who has to make decisions with the ball and who gives us stability at either of the guard positions. Efe, last year, had to play a ton of minutes and he had to play when he was really fatigued. But he got better as the season went along and he’ll have to pace himself this year. He’ll need to give us some good physical presence when he’s on the floor.”
And touching on Terry’s new troops.
Archie was a four-star player coming out of Midlothian High School and played at TCU last season. Boum set San Francisco’s freshmen record by hitting 121 free throws and earning a spot on the West Coast Conference All-Freshman team during the 2017-18 season. Tarke NJIT at 15.7 points per game his sophomore season.
Verhoeven set a Duquesne freshman record and led the Atlantic 10 with 71 blocked shots. Vila played for no. 1-ranked Northwest Florida State College last season. Williams suited up for Terry at Fresno State, while earning All-Mountain West third team honors during the 2017-18 season.
Williams averaged 13.8 points per game and led the Bulldogs in rebounding (6.1 rpg) during his sophomore season. Edwards played valuable minutes at SEC program LSU, while he’ll add veteran leadership.
“Boum is a ball handler for us and he’s a guy we know can score the basketball as well,” Terry said. “He’s much like all our guys, they’ve all played at this level already. They have a feel for what it takes to be successful at this level. I think all of our guys at some point will contribute. Deon [Stroud] is a freshman and he’s getting better every single day as we go along here. Anthony Tarke has to be a guy who plays on the perimeter and he’s a combo forward for us. Kaden Archie is another guy who’s a combo forward for us. All those guys, along with Daryl Edwards, he brings elite-level shooting. They all bring something different to the table.
Coach Terry was asked about Williams potentially being the ‘best player on the court.’
“[Bryson Williams] has an opportunity to definitely to do that, but he’ll have to play his way back in,” Terry said. “He sat out for a year and he’ll have to shake some rust off like a lot of our guys, even though they have a chance to practice every day, there’s still nothing like a game situation. So they’ll all have to play their ways in to the level of competition they were at where they were playing before.”
Vila is another student-athlete who has a chance to break into the starting lineup for Terry.
“Vila is a guy, who again, is a combo forward for us and should be a good flow guy for us on offense. He’s a guy who can stretch the floor,” Terry said. “The biggest thing between he and Bryson and all our bigs, they have to rebound for us.”
Terry’s new team will be challenged Saturday night as Texas Tech is coming off its best season ever.
Texas Tech head Chris Beard led the Red Raiders to their first ever National Final in program history in 2019, while directing his squad to the Elite Eight in 2018 for the first time in school history.
“Chris Beard is a great coach and know how to win,” Terry said. “He knows what 50-50 balls are and his teams play extremely hard – one of the hardest playing teams in the country and one of the best defensive squads in the country. It’s a great challenge for us early in the year to work against a great defensive team that’s going to play extremely hard. He knows what it takes to win.”
Texas Tech finished 31-7 during the 2018-19 campaign. Beard will field a young squad in his fourth season in Lubbock, as three letterwinners are returning. Davide Moretti, a 6-2 junior, started all 38 games last season.
Moretti ranked second on the team in scoring (11.5 ppg), while leading the squad in three-point shooting, connecting on 45.9 percent (73-of-159). Kyler Edwards (played in all 38 games) and Avery Benson (played in 20 contests) are the other pair of returnees.
The contest can be heard on UTEP’s flagship station 600 ESPN El Paso, as the “The Voice of the UTEP Miners” Jon Teicher will call the action with color analyst Steve Yellen.