MINER ILLUSTRATED VOL 1 ISSUE 5
MBB: Stone is Team MVP 6 WBB: No More Tur novers! 8 MBB: Around the League 9 Recruiting Insider: The 2011 Football Class 10 The Final Word 15
FEB. 9, 2011
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MINER ILLUSTRATED VOL I ISSUE 5
FromTheEDITOR The camera flashes stopped, interviews finished and as the last piece of confetti fell to the turf at Cowboys Stadium; you could say your final goodbye to the football season. The same can’t be said for this week’s Miner Illustrated Magazine. As promised, we got on the horn and grabbed as many interviews and photos as we could to give you a glimpse of what National Signing Day looked like for the UTEP signees. It took a bit of time due to the snow storm that hit Texas and other parts of the country, but I feel the MI staff did its due diligence and found a way to tell their stories. It ended up being a lot of content, which means we’ll hold off on the 2011 softball preview for next issue. Their season seemed to sneak up on everyone as they have a doubleheader against Northern Colorado tomorrow at 3 and 5 p.m. On a side note: I’m happy to say that Chris and I will continue our coverage of the team on the web and in the booth, commentating over the Internet live stream on the UTEP Athletics website. I digress, since this is the “Signing Day” issue, meaning there’s still a ton of analysis from our trio of experts: Josh Puga and UTEP66. The guys have broken down tape, rosters and finally come out with their final words on who will make an immediate impact and who will be the dark horse of the class. Speaking of final words, Josh will make his known as he breaks down the 2011 recruiting class as a whole. He didn’t hold back as he broke down and analyzed how the offense and defense made out this year with the incoming recruits. Oh yeah, I almost forgot about our coverage of college basketball. Gus and I breakdown the women’s and men’s teams after their respective weekends and see if either has a chance at heading into the Conference USA Tournament with any momentum. It’s a lot of information to digest, but I know the main consensus will be that fans will be more familiar with the incoming guys than they’ve been in previous years. That was our goal in publishing this issue, and I feel we’ve accomplished that. So take a few minutes to look at all the pictures and factoids we present, I guarantee we’ll be revisiting these as spring practices roll around April 1.
FEB. 9, 2011
a publication of Shamrock Media LLC CHRIS AVILA PRESIDENT CARLOS SILVA, JR. EDITOR-IN-CHIEF JEFF TAYLOR CHIEF PHOTOGRAPHER GUS CONTRERAS ANGEL LUNA ALEX MORALES JOSH PUGA “UTEP66” STAFF WRITERS DANNY LEVARIO DIRECTOR OF BUSINESS OPERATIONS ADAM DIAZ SALES DIRECTOR SUZETTE THOMPSON MAGAZINE DESIGN Letters to the editor, general feedback and advertising inquiries: email@example.com Cover photo: Jeremy Williams
Carlos Silva, Jr.
attempts to lay the ball in during a Jan. 5 game against Tulane at the Don Haskins Center. Jeff Taylor
THE BIG PICK Sometimes hiding your emotions is just too difficult to do. That was the case for womenâ€™s coaches Bill Damuth, Keitha Adams and Ewa Lakowska could only sit and watch the team give the ball away in the loss to UAB. Michael P. Reese/UTEP Athletics
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JULYAN IS UTEP’S CORNERSTONETOSUCCESS CARLOS SILVA, JR. Now that half of the Conference USA season has gotten underway, it’s a good time to discuss some of the trends that have begun to arise. The main being that Julyan Stone has proven, without a shadow of a doubt, that he’s the most valuable player of the UTEP basketball team. If his career high 23-point, nine rebound performance didn’t sway you, than his durability of playing 810 minutes over the long season has to make you a believer. Yes, Stone’s name hasn’t been printed in the paper, but that’s what makes him so valuable. Case in point: his game against Rice. The number that gets the most spotlight is the 23 points he put up, but the nine rebounds are more important due to the player that recorded them. Despite being 6-foot 7 inches, Stone is still the point guard of the team and not
expected to grab so many rebounds. Yet, he embraces the assignment and stepped his game up. Currently, Stone is ranked No. 1 on the team in terms of rebounds (7.5 per game). He’s also recorded the most double-doubles (three), in front of freshman center John Bohannon who has two. On that same token, he’s also racked up the most double-digit rebounding performances (six). Jeremy Williams and Bohannon, who have also gotten doubledigit rebounding performances, have three. So what does that mean? It shows leadership, first of all, especially from a senior who could easily have not bought into a new coach’s philosophy. On top of that it helps build team chemistry because it shows an upperclassman is not above the team to do the “dirty work”. That correlates to the tremendous help defense that Gabe McCulley and
the aforementioned Williams have provided as well. Both were tremendous scorers in their respective careers, yet they sacrificed those numbers in order to ensure their team earned wins this season. That’s resulted in the Miners (18-5, 6-2 C-USA) record. On top of that, the players are beginning to their shooting stroke back, having three players, Randy Culpepper (19.2 points), Christian Polk (11.8 points) and Williams (10.6 points) averaging double-digit scoring outputs every game. And don’t forget Stone; he’s one point away from joining his teammates. But scoring in double digits is not on his mind. He’s thinking about the next game and grabbing another rebound, making that next pass or finding a way to help his team win. That’s what an MVP does, and that’s what Stone is.
theNOTEBOOK What Can Brown Do For You Junior-college transfer (No. 2 PF/No.3 overall recruit out of the JC ranks) Gloria Brown has burst onto the scene for UTEP. She has registered more than half of UTEP’s blocks (41-of-81), while also pacing it in free-throws made (61), attempted (74), percentage (82.4) and points per game (11.5). She is second in field-goal percentage (57.1), offensive rebounds (46) and rebounds per game (5.6). Brown has done all of this in 16.6 minutes per game off the bench.
Ashley’s Millions Senior forward Ashley Milian has played in 19 games on the year, including starting the past nine. She rates leads the team in field-goal percentage (57.9) while pacing fourth in offensive rebounds (28). She is providing 3.1 rebounds per game (5th) and 5.9 points per game (7th). Milian is one of 11 Miners to have secured double digits in minutes played on average (12.1).
Fast Starts are Nothing New for the MBB Team UTEP has gotten off to a quick start in C-USA play in five of its six seasons as a league member. The Miners opened 5-0 in 2006, 4-1 in 2007, 4-2 in 2008 and won 14 straight games last year after splitting their first two league games.
For Miner fans, it should not come as a surprise that Julyan Stone has emerged as such a leader and a critical cog in Tim Floydâ€™s offense and defense. Jeff Taylor
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TURNOVERS CONTINUE TO PLAGUE ADAMS’TEAM GUS CONTRERAS
Turnovers have been the Achilles’ heel in Keitha Adam’s team this season. Over the last few games it’s been apparent that something needs to be done or the losses may begin to pile up. The Miners suffered another conference loss at home last Sunday against a poor UAB team. The Miners turned the ball over 21 times and gave up 19 points off of the turnovers. UTEP has turned the ball over 185 times in conference play, averaging 18.5 turnovers a game, compared to 158 by their Conference USA opponents. The fact is the Miners really need to buckle down and improve on their turnovers if they want to earn a decent seed in the Conference USA Tournament. The saving grace of this team is its ability to score. The Miners have scored a combined 615 points compared to the 602 points the opposition have scored. It’s a small margin but it’s just enough to
Ashley Milian, seen here fight¬ing for the ball against a UAB opponent, has to continue to fight to nullify tur novers as the giveaways have become the Achilles’ heel for the team this season. Michael P. Reese/ UTEP Athletics
help. UTEP has also seen an increased role from junior forward Gloria Brown, who has averaged 12.6 points per game, seven rebounds per game and made 90 percent of her free throws. Brown had another double-double last Sunday against UAB, scoring 13 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. She’s come off the bench for the Miners and made a direct impact on the team’s intensity. Brown plays tough in the paint and makes great shots from around the basket, especially when she gets good positioning on the block. Her ability to make shots from the free-throw line has made the difference in some of the games the Miners have won as well. UTEP is no stranger to losing the rebounding battle, last season is a great example. Yet, against UAB, the team recorded 38 rebounds, outrebounding the Blazers by 16 and did not win the game. That was one of head coach Adams’ main goals at the beginning of the season, but
now it seems to have changed to the turnover margin. The Miners (12-9, 4-5 C-USA) are currently in sixth place in conference play with seven games to be played. The team needs its point guards to focus on trying to hold onto the basketball and protecting it. They cannot afford to keep turning the ball over this much if they expect to play well going into the conference tournament. This team can really produce on the offensive end, when they are playing well, but can they limit their turnovers? They are going to have to call on the likes of Dietra Caldwell and Kelli Willingham to guide this team in their remaining games. If coach Adams can improve her team’s turnover ratio then the Miners should get back on track in time to grab a good seeding for the conference tournament. That’s what it’s all about at the halfway point of the conference season, getting on a winning role.
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MBB: AROUND THE LEAGUE MINER ILLUSTRATED STAFF REPORTS
Memphis 62, Gonzaga 58 SPOKANE, Wash. – The Memphis Tigers took a break from Conference USA league play to face off on the road against Gonzaga, outlasting the Bulldogs 62-58 Saturday afternoon at Spokane Arena. Antonio Barton scored 17 points, while brother, Will, chipped in 12 points, seven rebounds and six assists in the winning effort. Charles Carmouche and Will Coleman added 13 and nine points, respectively. Steven Gray led Gonzaga (15-9, 5-3 West Coast Conference), offensively, with 12 points. Kelly Olynyk was the only other player to finish in double figures, recording 10 points Memphis gets back into C-USA action, traveling to Orlando, Fla. to face off against struggling UCF at 5 p.m. MT at UCF Arena. UAB 47, Tulane 39 NEW ORLEANS, La. – Cameron Moore’s double-double (14 points, 16 rebounds) performance aided UAB in a 47-39 victory Saturday afternoon against Tulane at Fogelman Arena. Aaron Johnson, who recorded four assists, also moved into second place on UAB’s career assist list with 588 and added 11 points. UAB (16-6, 6-3 C-USA) teammate Ovie Soko grabbed 11 rebounds. Jordan Callahan scored 14 and Kendall Timmons added 10 and 10 rebounds for the Green Wave (12-10, 2-7 C-USA). East Carolina 68, UCF 61 GREENVILLE, N.C. – Jontae Sherrod scored 19 points in the second half to lead East Carolina over UCF, 68-61, Saturday afternoon inside Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum. Sherrod finished the night with 23 points, while teammates Darrius Morrow and Jamar Abrams added 15 and 12 points, respectively, in the Pirates 13-10, 5-4 C-USA) first season sweep of the Knights. continued on page 14
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RECRUITING INSIDER: PRICE ADDRESSES POSITION NEEDS WITH JUCO TALENT JOSH PUGA AND UTEP66
With every year, many believe the first Wednesday in February can make or break a program as moves forward. As Carlos described it in an editorial on minerillustrated.com, it can be described as the Super Bowl for college football. Recruiting services dedicate hours upon hours of time researching and analyzing prospects from across the nation in the hopes of finding the next big thing. Coaches from accross the country host camps, visit schools and make in-in home stops searching for their program’s next game changer. They are looking to fill holes in specific positions, address needs and problems the team had the previous season and coaches looks for the kid who wants to be at their school. At UTEP, the day has become very important over the last few years. Mike Price and his staff have had to deal with the building pressure to produce a successful and winning season immediately. Perhaps high expectations and the taste of victory at the beginning of his UTEP tenure have left fans wanting more and several below average seasons have made fans ancy to say the least. The pressure is now and the team must produce wins. With that, we present Miner Illustrated’s analysis of the 2011 signing class. Staff writers Josh Puga and UTEP66 spent a tremendous amount of time analyzing the class and objectively grading the class. Josh get things started with the offense and what they needed to accomplish. Joshl’s Anaysis Offensively, the staff filled the immediate need for depth at quarterback and added two junior college linemen to shore up the offensive line. Quarterback: Nick Lamaison, the two-time JC All American quarterback, will compete this spring for the starting role with incumbents Javia Hall, Carson Meager and Tate Smith. Lamaison is a proven winner with a strong arm and will be the favorite to win a starting role. A further plus is Lamaison’s top receiver, Michael Edwards and his blind side tackle, James Martin, are Miner commitments. Speaking of quarterbacks, the Miners also signed Blaire Sullivan, a good looking youngster from San Antonio’s Central Catholic High School. Sullivan, a Dave Campbell Top 300 quarterback, has a live arm and surprising speed for his size. After a redshirt year, and some experience in the offense, Sullivan could be a future star for the Miners. Lamaison and Sullivan are nice pickups addressing both the short and long term future. While we don’t have a high profile, highly recruited quarterback coming in this year, we found two
quality players who are excellent fits for the Miner offense. Coach Price did a nice job of scrambling late in the recruiting cycle. Josh’s grade: B Offensive line: Addressing the loss of five offensive line starters was an absolute must for the UTEP coaching staff. Again, Price chose to go the junior college route, adding two talented linemen. James Robinson is a probable starter at one of the offensive line slots, while James Martin is slated to be the starting at left tackle. Three high school players were signed: A. C. Patterson, Trint Jenkins and Ryan Lindblade. All have good upside, however; they are not expected to contribute next year with the possible exception of Patterson due to the wide-open competition. Overall, the coaches added two potential starters and have signed three young linemen who could develop into top-notch future prospects. Josh’s grade: Solid C, with tremendous upside. Skill positions: : Rounding out the offensive recruits, UTEP added Xavier Williams, Ranchview’s talented running back, and Red Oak’s speedy wide receiver, Ishmael Harrison. Kishon Sanders from Pasadena, Calif. was a good get due to his versatility to play tight end or defensive end, depending on need. Williams and Harrison possess 4.32 and 4.5 speed, respectively, and have the athleticism to be play makers for the Miners after a redshirt year. Sanders brings good speed to the tight end, but with four good young tight ends on the roster, Sanders may find his niche at defensive end. The Miners also added El Paso’s Cole Freytag, a very talented all-around athlete, who is projected as a wide receiver. Freytag will grayshirt in fall 2011. Josh’s grade: C Is this the Miners best recruiting classes? Any recruiting analysis is, at best, subjective. The real answer is: only time will tell. Last year’s class was arguably coach Price’s best. This year’s class isn’t as strong. However, it does address some immediate needs. That may not rank high on recruiting class lists, but it may pay dividends in the win/loss column. How does UTEP stack up against the other C-USA classes? The bottom line is the Miners ranked 12th within the conference. It’s not an unusual place for the Miners to be. Nonetheless, it’s not where a team needs to be on a consistent basis to build a winning program. Who are the golden nuggets? Nick Lamaison, with his strong arm, leadership and poise, will make an immediate impact offensively and could prove to be a steal for the Miners. James Robinson and James Martin are two quality linemen continued on page 12
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Nick Lamaison, QB, Ht/Wt: 6 feet one inch 210 pounds 4.75 forty Hometown/School: San Francisco CC, San Francisco, California Statistics: 3993 yards passing (60.1%), including 30 touchdowns with 12 interceptions Accolades: JC Athletic Bureau All America 1st Team, JC All America MVP, 1st Team All California, 1st Team All Conference, 2008 JC Athletic All America 1st Team Strengths: strong arm, nice touch on the ball, leadership, poise, big play ability. Roy Robertson, DE, Ht/Wt: 6-feet 6 240lbs (4.6 40-yard dash) Hometown/School: Grand Prairie, TX (South Grand Prairie High) Statistics: 76 tackles, 23 tackles for loss, 8 sacks, 1 fumble recovery, and 9 pass breakups Accolades: All-district 5-5A first team defense, HSGametime Top-100 (Dallas area), 3-star rating from Rivals Strengths: Great pass rusher with a prototypical size for a defensive end, non-stop motor. Ishmael Harrison, WR/RB, Ht/Wt: 5 feet 10 inches 175 pounds, 4.5 forty Hometown/School: Red Oak, Texas (Red Oak HS) Statistics: Harrison rushed for 403 yards (10.6 average), including 7 tds and added 306 yards receiving with two touchdowns. Accolades: 15-4A 2nd Team All District. ESPNâ€™s 134th ranked receiver, Dave Campbell Texas Top 300, Texas Top 200 and FR Top 150. ESPN 3 Star Recruit Strengths: Excellent route runner with good quickness, explosive off his breaks, runs well in space
Blaire Sullivan, QB, Ht/Wt: 6 feet 4 inches 192 lbs 4.8 forty Hometown/School: San Antonio Central Catholic High School, San Antonio, Texas Statistics: Sullivan rushed for 864 yards, including 11 touchdowns and passed for 1876 yards, including 24 touchdowns with only three interceptions. Accolades:Texas Top 200, TAPPS Private School All State , Dave Campbell Texas Top 300 and TAPPS Academic All State Strengths: Ideal height, throws a nice deep ball, displays good touch, a strong live arm with good accuracy, work ethic A.C. Patterson, OL, Ht/Wt: 6 foot 285 pounds Hometown/School: Las Vegas, Nevada (Bishop Gorman) Accolades: Scout 28rd Ranked Center, ESPN 33rd Ranked Center, Nevada State Championship Strengths: foot work, toughness, aggressiveness, well versed in football fundamentals
Gage Sharp, ATH/DB, Ht/Wt: 5-feet 11 185lbs (4.5 40-yard dash) Hometown/School: The Colony, TX (Colony High) Accolades: All-district 4-4A Honorable Mention (defense), Dave Schuman Ultimate 100 JR DBâ€™s Strengths: The versatile Sharp is a speedy athlete with a ton of ability that can play offense and defense. He is projected as a safety and has a great feel for the game.
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Recruiting continued from page 10 who will pay immediate dividends for the Miners. They afford the Miners two potential starters who can provide the stability needed on the offensive line and, more importantly, give the coaching staff flexibility to redshirt talented freshmen, Jenkins and Lindblade. Who are the diamonds in the rough? Xavier Williams may prove to be a gem for the Miners. With three senior running backs and the highly-touted, Nathan Jeffery on the 2011 version of the Miners, Williams’ impact may not be felt until 2012. He has Donald Buckram type talent. One of the most intriguing recruits, and one with unlimited potential, is Trint Jenkins. Jenkins, at 6 feet 9 inches 320 pounds, brings a ton of physical talent. Jenkins has a few things to work on to tap his potential, but if he works hard, he could easily be one of the premiere linemen in the conference down the road. A.C. Patterson brings excellent potential to the offensive trenches. He is on the smallish size, height wise, but is a well schooled, hard working and strong offensive lineman. Offense Overall: In terms of addressing the immediate needs on offense, the Miners did well under the circumstances. The coaching staff faced some negative recruiting, regarding the coaching situation and border violence. The staff did a nice job after losing highly-touted wide receiver, Lovett Gibson, quarterback/ athlete Jonovan Griffin and athlete Antavius Sims, along the way. Josh’s grade: C+. UTEP66’s Anaysis Switching to the Defensive side of the ball, the Miners are in pretty good shape heading into to next season and were able to address a couple keys areas, while focusing on depth. Defensive backs: Starting in the defensive backfield the Miners added to their depth with a pair of JUCO defensive backs and a pair of high school prospects.
Darren Woodward, a JUCO transfer from Kilgore, Texas, should come and contribute in his first year at the corner position. The other JUCO transfer, Derrick Morgan, was a late addition to the class based on his measurable attributes. He looks the part and should provide some depth in the defensive backfield. Gage Sharpe and Shane Huhn are good players but are great candidates for a redshirt year, and should have an opportunity to contribute after next season. Although, Price hinted they may earn playing time. With the majority of the defensive backs returning from last year’s team, this was a lightly recruited area and the Miners chose depth over immediate help. Woodward and Morgan will find the field this year with the Huhn and Sharpe a year away. UTEP66’s grade: C Linebackers: At the Linebacker position, the Miners can focus on depth with only one linebacker departing due to graduation (Anthony Morrow). Continuing with the JUCO theme, the UTEP coaching staff picked up Josh Fely and AJ Ropati to help solidify a more than capable linebacker corps. Fely and Ropati are talented players and have the ability to make their presence felt right away. UTEP also solidified their future with the signing of Trey Brown from Lancaster, Texas. Although the Miners seem to have a number of linebackers, Brown is a talented linebacker who excels at rushing the quarterback and could make an impact in special teams with his quickness and awareness. The Miners also added Tyrone Darling, from Seguin High school, a speedy linebacker with good tackling skills. Darling is a nice pickup, but may be redshirted in his first year, like DeAndre Little was a season ago. Linebacker is certainly not a need position, but the staff signed a nice set of players to help the squad this year and for the future, especially with three starters leaving due to graduation after 2011. UTEP66’s grade: B-
Your independent site for news, analysis and opinion about the UTEP Miners.
Defensive line: The last piece of the Miners recruiting class, on defense, might be the most important: the defensive line. UTEP struggled to put pressure on the quarterback all season and the coaching staff might have found an answer. His name is Roy Robertson, a 6-foot 6 inch, 240-pound defensive end from South Grand Prairie High. Although he will be in his first year, he most likely will see the field right away a la Marcus Bagley and Germard Reed. As a freshman, he will have some growing pains and has some work to do in run support. Overall, Robertson is a great pickup for the Miners’ pass rush, but they didn’t address the middle of the line to help with the lack of size up front. UTEP66’s grade: B Who will make an immediate impact on defense? JUCO’s Woodard, Fely and Ropati should all come in and provide some nice depth to the defense and contribute next season. Fely and Ropati both have a good chance of starting as they will be able to go through spring ball with the team. If Robertson is as good as advertised, he could provide a much needed boost to the defense and see playing time early and often. Who could be the steal of the defensive class? Linebacker Trey Brown was a last-minute addition and could prove to be a great pickup for the Miners. With his combination of size and speed, Brown has a chance to make an early impression at UTEP. Defense Overall: Offense was a priority this year, so most of the signings came from that side of the ball, but the Miners did an admirable job of picking up some players to help the defense this year and also for the years to follow. UTEP filled some needs, but did not have a home-run player on defense similar to a Travuan Nixon. As with any class, it could have been better and probably should have been with a couple players switching their commitments, but only time will tell. Overall defense grade: C+
m ner illustrated.com
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note WORTHY Rifle: The UTEP rifle team fired a season-best 2340 in air gun en route to a victory over Nebraska over the weekend in Lincoln. The Miners fired 2277 in smallbore to combine for an aggregate score of 4617 to the Cornhuskers’ 4582. Leading the charge was Alix Moncada, who bested all shooters with a match-high 591 in air rifle. Andrea Vaturin followed with 584 and Korina Rodriguez posted a career-best 583. Andrea Palafox fired 582 to round out UTEP’s score. Hannah Muegge, whose score did not count towards the final team tally, recorded 568. Palafox was the Miners’ top shooter in smallbore, registering a mark of 573. She was followed by Moncada (571), Vautrin (568) and Muegge (565). Rodriguez also fired 565. The Miners return to action on Feb. 12 when they host Nevada at the UTEP Rifle Range in an NCAA national qualifying match. Track: All-American Risper Kimaiyo (center) finished third in the women’s 3,000-meter run at the Notre Dame Meyo Invitational on Saturday in South Bend, Ind. The junior posted a time of 9:32.62 in the women’s race to bring home the bronze as the lone UTEP woman competing at the meet. Cross country All-American Elkana Rotich placed 11th in the men’s version of the 3,000m with a time of 8:20.43. Justice Chirchir was 10th in the men’s mile race crossing the finish line at 4:14.39. The full Miners’ squad will travel to College Station, Texas, next week for the Texas A&M Challenge that will pit schools from the Big 12, Southeastern Conference and Conference USA against each other. Photos courtesy UTEP Athletics
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MBB: AROUND THE LEAGUE (continued) The Knights’ (14-7, 1-7 C-USA) leading scorer, Marcus Jordan, scored 24 points. A.J. Tyler was the only other player to score in double digits (10). Tulsa 76, Houston 71 (OT) TULSA, Okla. – A crowd of 5,126 fans was treated to extra basketball as Justin Hurtt made a three-point shot with 8.6 seconds. Following that clutch shot, Tulsa was led by a trio of players in a 76-71 victory Saturday afternoon against Houston at the Donald W. Reynolds Center. Haralson and Hurtt led all Tulsa (13-10, 6-3 C-USA) scorers with 22 points, each, while Steven Idlet recorded his fifth double-double (16 points, 10 rebounds) of the season. Junior forward Joe Richard added eight boards and freshman guard Jordan Clarkson chipped in eight points and five rebounds. Maurice McNeil led the Cougars (11-11, 3-6 C-USA) with 21 points, Darian Thibodeaux scored 15 and Zamal Nixon added 12. Harris scored eight, pulled down 10 rebounds and added three blocks. Southern Miss 67, Marshall 60 HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Gary Flowers recorded a double-double (20 points and 12 rebounds), leading Southern Miss to a 67-60 win against Marshall Saturday night at Reed Green Coliseum. Flower’s performance garnered him C-USA Player of the Week honors, while Southern Miss (18-5, 7-3 C-USA) teammate D.J. Newbill also ended the game with a double-double (12 points, 10 rebounds). DeAndre Kane (left) led Marshall (15-8, 3-5 C-USA) with 20 points, garnering him his fourth C-USA Freshman of the Week award. He was the lone double-digit scorer for the Herd. Damier Pitts finished with nine points while Johnny Thomas, who saw his first action since the West Virginia game, recorded eight points in his debut. (Photo courtesy of Marshall Athletics).
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THE FINAL WORD: Price Rolls DiceWith 2011 Recruiting Class JOSH PUGA It is safe to say that Mike Price is ensuring that his football team stays relevant in C-USA. More importantly, he may be looking to go out a winner in what may be his last year or two in El Paso. Whether or not those rumors are true – I don’t know – but from the looks of it, he and the coaching have a win-now mentality with this recruiting class. According to most of the recruiting sites, the Miners ranked at or towards the bottom of the conference in regards to the quality of players they signed to this year’s class. That didn’t sit too well with a majority of Miners fan, but what they need to know is that the ratings are skewed due to the signing of nine junior college players. Most recruiting sites do not take those player rankings into
Mike Price has to be happy with the immediate influx of talent to the football program. The needed additions should shore up some issues at a number of positions. Jeff Taylor
consideration since they’ve counted them in previous rankings when they were initially recruited out of high school or another school. So where does that leave the Miners? UTEP had many needs, especially on the offensive side of the ball, and the coaching staff did a good job of finding players that can contribute immediately. Starting with quarterback Nick Lamaison, the Miners have found an immediate replacement for Trevor Vittatoe. Granted, Lamaison will have some competition, with incumbents Javia Hall, Carson Meger and Tate Smith, but it is his job to lose. The Miners also solidified the offensive line with a pair of JUCO players, James Martin and James Robinson, to help next season and also added a trio of talented high school players: Trint Jenkins, Ryan Lindblade and A.C. Patterson. The trio will contribute in the years to come, and I doubt we see them in the starting lineup anytime soon. Staying on offense, the Miners also strengthened the skill positions with wide receivers Mike Edwards (Lamasion’s teammate and favorite target) and high school talents Ishamel Harrison and El Paso’s own Cole Freytag. Add the talented Xay Williams and Kishõn Sanders at running back and tight end, respectively, and the Miners fulfilled some immediate needs as well as some players that
will excel in the future. On defense the Miners had some flexibility to focus on depth with most of the defensive starters returning for 2011. UTEP also went the JUCO route on defense to provide much needed help to the linebacker corps which was depleted due to numerous injuries throughout last season. JUCO linebackers Josh Fely and AJ Ropati should see the field early during spring practice – with most of the returning linebackers will be rehabilitating from offseason surgery – and both could possibly be starting by the start of this season. The Miners also signed a pair of talented high school linebackers, Trey Brown and Tyrone Darling. There’s no question that after a redshirt year and tutelage under linebackers coach Robert Rodriguez, both should be primed to be major contributors by 2012. Although UTEP didn’t recruit heavily on the defensive line, they were able to scoop away a highly ranked defensive end, Roy Robertson. The talented Robertson has a steep learning curve coming in as a freshman, but has a huge upside and could help the Miners pass rush as soon as this upcoming season. In the defensive backfield the Miners mixed it up some with a combination of JUCO and high school prospects. JUCO cornerback Darren Woodard and JUCO safety Derrick Morgan will vie for playing time this season and Woodard has an excellent opportunity to start opposite Travuan Nixon. High school stars, Shane Huhn and Gage Sharpe are talented players that will probably redshirt to get them ready to compete in 2012. Overall, the Miners did a good job of filling needs, especially on offense with so many holes and also solidified the depth on the defense. Coach Mike Price and his staff are putting the season on the shoulders of JUCO players with the hopes that they can come in and perform as well if not better than last season’s veterans. Time will tell if the gamble pays off.