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MINER ILLUSTRATED VOL 1 ISSUE 8

MARCH 2, 2011

MBB: Miners Back In the Race 7 WBB: Positive Momentum Key 8 MBB: Around the League 9 Marquee Win: UTEP Answers The Critics By Defeating Memphis 10 The Final Word 15


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MINER ILLUSTRATED VOL I ISSUE 8

FromTheEDITOR

Rather than be long winded, as most goodbye columns tend to be, I’m going to cut to the chase: changes are coming to Miner Illustrated. I think you can figure out what that may entail. After a long thought process, I’ve decided to step down as the Editor-In-Chief of Miner Illustrated to pursue an internship opportunity with the El Paso Times. It seems like the perfect fit-writing for my hometown newspaper. Hopefully, by the time you read this issue, I’ll have logged a few bylines. In the year’s time that I’ve worked with MI, I’ve seen UTEP in an NCAA Tournament game and a postseason. That’s saying something for me and the teams. It’s been a hellava ride, to say the least, but in the end, I’m glad to have been a part of it--every bump, peak and plateau. Going forward, I’d like to say good luck to Rebecca Frazier Burch, MI’s new Editor-InChief. She’ll have her hands full with the MI Magazine and MI website, but from the looks of her credentials, I have the utmost confidence she’ll make a seamless transition. Without getting all soppy on everyone, I’d like to wish the best of luck to the MI staff as we both move forward in our respective future endeavors. Most of all, I’d like to give a shout out to our loyal readers. You’ve been the driving force that has made MI such a success. I’ve always enjoyed the back-and-forth discussion in our articles and the e-mails I’ve received. In some cases, I’ve made e-mail pals with Miner fans that wanted to continue discussing sports, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Well, it looks like I did get long winded. Darn. I guess the best way to wrap this up would be short and sweet. Thank you.

MARCH 2, 2011

a publication of Shamrock Media LLC CHRIS AVILA PRESIDENT CARLOS SILVA, JR. EDITOR-IN-CHIEF JEFF TAYLOR CHIEF PHOTOGRAPHER GUS CONTRERAS REBECCA FRAZIER BURCH 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: show@minerillustrated.com Cover photo: Gabe McCulley made a hard charge for the

Carlos Silva, Jr.

basket against Memphis Saturday afternoon in the Don Haskins Center. Jeff Taylor


THE BIG PICK The f ans were out in force Saturday after noon for the Memphis game. More impressive than anything was the packed student section which made more noise than a thunderstorm and without a doubt played a f actor in the minds of the Memphis players. Jeff Taylor


Randy Culpepper’s intensity was just too much for Memphis to handle Saturday after noon. With this victory, he and his teammates have given the Miners another opportunity for a bye in the conf erence tour nament. Jeff Taylor


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UTEP BACK IN THE HUNT FOR ATOURNEY BYE CHRIS AVILA If you were to ask anyone a week ago if they thought the UTEP Miners would have been back in contention for what could possibly be a first-round bye in the Conference USA tournament, you would have not only been laughed at but possibly even ridiculed. The Miners were in the middle of a terrible slump with losses coming at the hands of Southern Miss, UCF and East Carolina. UTEP looked lost, unfocused and confused, much like a freshmen team. The losses were quite uncharacteristic for a team full of experienced seniors. The Miners might have been there physically, but to the keen observer, there was much more going on, and no one knew what was making the team fall apart right before their very eyes. Yet, something happened during the trip to East Carolina. Perhaps it was the Tim Floyd and Phil Johnston ejections that rallied the team. There has been speculation that the team rallied around their coaches as national writers came

down hard on the Miners, Floyd, and Conference USA, saying they were all soft. Maybe it was the notion that their entire season could come crashing down if something wasn’t done quickly. Whatever the spark was, the surge it created not only awoke a sleeping giant inside the hearts of the team, it also sparked a fire in the fan base and the city. More importantly, it has helped launch the Miners back into contention in a jumbled and messy Conference USA race for first. UTEP has found itself in a rare position to content for first for the third time this season and earn a much desired firstround bye in the conference tournament. As of this past Saturday, UAB is in sole possession of first place. Southern Miss’ loss alongside the Miners win over Memphis helped knock the two from the number one spot. If that isn’t enough, there is now a four-way tie for second: Southern Miss, Memphis, Tulsa and UTEP. If all four teams continue to win with UAB losing tonight at Southern Miss, there could be a potential

five-way tie for first place with one game left to play. UTEP is in the thick of the hunt, but has the toughest opponents in Marshal and SMU; both who are tied for sixth. It’s amazing to think that the airwaves were full of speculation and doubt regarding the Miners. What seemed to be a terrible end to a season is now a distant memory. There are two games left to play and given the fluctuation in the Miner’s play over the last couple of weeks, UTEP needs to attack each game with the same fervor and intensity as the Memphis game. There is no doubt that the team can execute the Floyd system with perfection, but the question remains whether they can maintain the emotional high they’ve been on since last week. Perhaps the question should be how bad do they want to win? Only the Miners know the answer to that question. The rest of us will have to wait till tipoff later tonight at the Don Haskins Center.

theNOTEBOOK Reserves Deliver Versus Tigers The Miners received 26 points from their bench against Memphis, including 15 from freshman center John Bohannon and a season-high nine from senior guard Isaac Gordon. The 26 points tied the most scored by UTEP reinforcements in a C-USA game this season, duplicating the effort versus Tulane on Jan. 26. Sensational Defensive Effort by the Miners against Memphis The Miners held Memphis to 47 points, marking the 12th time that they have yielded fewer than 50 in a C-USA game since joining the league in the 200506 season. The Tigers’ .333 field goal percentage tied the lowest allowed by UTEP in a C-USA game this season. Rice

also shot 33.3 percent on Jan. 15. Miners Putting More Points on the Board UTEP has scored at least 74 points in three of the last five games, which is significant because the Miners were held to under 70 points in nine of their previous 10 contests. UTEP’s .491 field goal percentage versus Memphis on Saturday marked its third-best effort in a C-USA game this season; the Miners shot 53.1 percent against Tulane on Jan. 26 and 51.1 percent versus SMU on Feb. 12. Culpepper Logs Second 60-Steal Season Senior guard Randy Culpepper has posted 60 steals in a season for the second time. He posted 54 takeaways as a freshman,

67 as a sophomore, 59 as a junor and has 60 in 2010-11. There have been only six individual 60-steal campaigns in school history; three belonging to Tim Hardaway, two to Culpepper and the other to Jeep Jackson. Fourth Straight 20-Point Game for Culpepper Randy Culpepper has scored at least 20 points in each of the Miners’ last four games, marking the second time in his career that he has achieved the feat. The first such occurrence was from Jan. 2-12, when he put up 31 points versus Sam Houston State, 29 against Tulsa, 34 at UAB and 26 at Tulane. Culpepper has never had five games in a row with 20+ points.


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MINERS MUST FOCUS ONCONFERENCETOURNAMENT GUS CONTRERAS The UTEP women’s basketball team was reeling. Coming off two straight losses, they needed a win desperately. Fortunately, the Miners ended their losing skid by earning a big 77-49 win against Southern Miss Thursday night at the Don Haskins Center. The Miners showed no signs of their recent poor performances, rallying under junior guard Dietra Caldwell, who scored 15 points, all coming from the three-point range. The biggest difference in the Miner victory was the team effort it displayed as all members of the team produced

offensively and defensively. UTEP even limited their turnovers to only 16; a number that was bigger than it seemed. The Miners had four players score in double digits: Kayla Thornton scored 11 points, Ashley Milian added 10, Kelli Willingham chipped in 14 and Gloria Brown had 10 points. One can only imagine what kind of success the Miners would have had if they had been as efficient as this in at least half of their games this season. UTEP would be in the top half of the conference and would be looking at a high seeding in the conference tournament. Instead, UTEP’s dreams and aspirations of finishing in the top half faded away with every loss;

JUCO transfer Gloria Brown has done everything she can to help keep the Miners relevant through conference play. As the conferenct tournament approaches, the rest of her team must step up their intensity as well. Michael P. Reese/ UTEP Athletics

Sunday was no exception. UTEP was brought back down to earth following a 70-64 defeat at the hands of SMU. The Mustangs senior guard Raquel Christian blew up for 32 points, 24 coming from the three-point line and eight rebounds. SMU also shot 77 percent from the three-point line in the second half. When that happens, any team can expect to lose. The Miners didn’t play bad, but they weren’t able to get in the right position to cover Christian. SMU was playing screens at the top of the arc, and UTEP couldn’t get enough people to switch off their assignments. Gloria Brown, who recorded 12 points and 16 rebounds, helped the Miners but it wasn’t enough on the defensive side of the ball. The Miners had multiple opportunities to score inside the paint but elected to take jump shots instead. UTEP scored 28 points in the paint, but when the inside lanes were crowded, they didn’t have the patience to wait until something was available. The Miners must be able to trust one another if they want to win their final game of the season on the road against Tulsa. UTEP has played well in their past two games, but that went awry against SMU. If Christian didn’t score a career high in points, the Miners probably would have won. The team cannot get down on themselves for that loss. Instead, the UTEP players need to focus on the productivity they have been showing and continue that in their final conference game. A team wants to peak when it reaches the conference tournament, and UTEP looks to be doing that. It would be nice for the Miners to end the season with a win and, more importantly, provide a little bit of momentum heading into the conference tournament.


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MBB: AROUND THE LEAGUE MINER ILLUSTRATED STAFF REPORTS UAB 68, Houston 55 HOUSTON, Texas – After trailing 6 to 4 early on in the first half, UAB used a 23-4 run spanning six minutes to take the lead and control of the game en route to a 68-55 victory at Hofheinz Pavilion. UAB’s Ovie Soko and Preston Purifoy finished the game with 17 points while Jamarr Sanders chipped in 18. UAB (20-7, 10-4 Conference USA) reached the 20-win mark for the fourth consecutive season, a first in the program’s history. Houston (12-15, 4-10 C-USA) was led offensively by Maurice McNeil, who had 14 points. Kendrick Washington and Zamal Nixon added 13 and 11 points respectively. Marshall 64, SMU 62 HUNTINGTON, W. Va. – Damier Pitts scored 19 points but none were more important than the two free throws he contributed with less than seven seconds left in regulation, giving Marshall a 64-62 win Saturday night at the Cam Henderson Center. Marshall (20-9, 8-6 C-USA) also received contributions from DeAndre Kane and Tirrell Baines, who scored 13 and 12 points respectively. SMU (17-11, 8-6 C-USA) wasted a spectacular performance by Papa Dia. The senior forward recorded a doubledouble (21 points, 12 rebounds) while Robert Nyakundi and Jeremiah Samarrippas chipped in 11 points each. UCF 65, Southern Miss 64 ORLANDO, Fla. – AJ Rompza may have been the smallest player on the floor, but he stood the tallest after making a 3-pointer with less than three seconds in regulation. His shot proved to be the game winner in a 65-64 game against Southern Miss at continued on page 14­


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A GAME FOR THE AGES: UTEP SHOWS TOUGHNESS AND DESIRE IN BIG WIN GUS CONTRERAS To say that UTEP’s 74-47 win against Memphis was huge would be an understatement. It was monumental. It was pivotal. This UTEP squad has spent the last two years building a “fortress” at the Don Haskins Center, going unbeaten at home for 13 consecutive conference games, but in less than a week, they let it crumble. The Miners had been struggling with their game, especially lately, losing two of their last three games. For the first time this season, they had lost two straight games. Then, the incident with Coach Tim Floyd against ECU occurred, which seem to just add to the team’s troubles. But instead of further fall out, the squad used the adversity to allow them to bond and become a team once again. They rallied together and defeated a very talented, albeit young, Memphis team. Senior guard Julyan Stone had said after the losses that UTEP was the softest team in the conference, but the Miners showed no signs of that happening against Memphis. “We’ve been proven to be a soft team, but this win retired that statement,” said Stone. “We looked ourselves in the mirror and went back to basics; we want to be a tough team that can make the tournament.” The players looked to be very focused and determined from the start of the game. As they were warming up, the players were talking to each other and encouraging one another about what needed to be done. At one point right before tipoff, I can remember looking at Stone and I could tell that he wanted it more than any other player. But it wasn’t just the players that wanted the win, the fans wanted it too. The Miners, along with the help of a very raucous crowd of 11,

334, put on a show. Even before they had begun to let people inside, there were long lines of UTEP fans waiting to get in, and they were all talking about what was needed for the Miners to earn the victory. The spectators were very much involved. They were there to support their team and its coaches. Throughout the arena, the fans had signs that in support of Floyd and the players; some signs even taunted Memphis. Some of the players had family and friends that attended the game in support of the Miners. The best homage was a standing ovation for Floyd when his name was called by the public address announcer prior to tipoff. Another reason the fans got up for this game was it was being televised nationally on ESPN2, and whenever UTEP lands a spot on ESPN, the fans get involved. The game against Memphis meant a lot to the entire team, but for three of them it meant even more. Randy Culpepper, Jeremy Williams, and Gabe McCulley all hail from Memphis, Tennessee, and all three of them wanted to impress their fans not only in El Paso, but in Memphis as well. The three of them had been talking about this game for a while and how much it would really mean to all the fans if they won, but could they deliver a performance that would make even their hometown fans proud? In short, yes. Culpepper was the standout on offense and defense in this game going for 20 points, four assists, and four rebounds. He was such an influence in this game that Memphis’ only solution for a while was to foul him. Culpepper went to the free throw line 13 times, but could only make seven of those attempts. Culpepper made up for this with his assists; some of which turned the game around completely, especially a key one to John Bohannon for a monster dunk that changed the entire continued on page 12

minerTOUGH History has shown us that Memphis is a very tough team. Under John Calipari and now with Josh Pastner, basketball aficionados witnessed an amazing 64 game winning streak. It ended at the hands of the Miners last year in Memphis and message boards lit up with commentary about how lucky UTEP had been to get the win with some Tiger fans saying that it was simply an off night for the Tigers. Memphis would avenge their loss and make the Miners suffer. The “weak” Miners would never get back-to-back wins against the Tigers. Who would have known that when Memphis traveled to El Paso for the 2011 regular season contest that the Tigers would have left their game at home. What started out to be a nervous game for Miner fans turned into one of the greatest displays of UTEP basketball in ages and became the worst C-USA loss for Memphis since 2000 when the Tigers lost to UAB by 27. Simply put, Memphis was embarrassed and UTEP showed the country what it means to be Miner tough.


Julyan Stone had said early last week that the Miners were “soft,� but he helped show UTEP was indeed a team to be reckoned with after dismantling Memphis Saturday 74-47 in the Don Haskins Center. Jeff Taylor


M I N E R I L L U S T R AT E D. C O M

momentum of the game. Although Culpepper’s offensive displays were great, it was the defense that won this game for the Miners. UTEP played the best defensive they have the entire season, and that is a bold statement because this team has played well defensively numerous times this season. The Miners held a very talented Memphis team to a season low 47 points; something that can be credited to every single player on the team. Coach Floyd attributed this impressive defensive display to assistant coach Phil Johnson and his fine game planning. “I was real proud of Coach Johnson’s defensive plan. I thought it was outstanding,” Floyd said. “All of them to a man did a great job on the defensive end.” The Miners forced 22 turnovers from a Memphis team that has averaged 12 turnovers a game this season. Stone, who put on a great defensive display, never stopped putting pressure on the Memphis players. Stone was constantly in someone’s face and had his hands up guarding his man. The Miners also had help from Christian Polk and Gabe McCulley on the defensive end that really stopped the Tiger’s guard attack. Claude Britten, who has been in great form as of late, was left on the bench for the majority of the game, solely because of the quickness of the Memphis players. Britten would have likely been caught out of position. By playing Bohannon, McCulley, and Williams, the Miners increased their chances of getting up and down the court faster. Having these kinds of options really allowed the Miners

to open up much more offensively and defensively, especially for some unlikely stars. Isaac Gordon and John Bohannon played important roles in the win against Memphis. Gordon came off the bench for McCulley and provided a spark by playing solid defense and scoring seven points in some flashy lay ups. Bohannon played an even bigger role in the victory by scoring 15 points. Bohannon was the recipient of some great passes from Culpepper, who managed to always find him open and ready to score. This pair of players (Gordon and Bohannon) helped provide some much needed rest for the others without changing the game’s momentum. In a competitive conference, like C-USA, a team needs to able to rely on their bench to play just as well as the Miners’ bench did against Memphis. With this win, the possibilities within the conference have really opened up for

1 2 the Miners. With two games left, things could get really interesting. The question now is whether or not the Miners can continue playing solidly. With some solid play and a little luck from the other teams in the conference, UTEP can easily snag one of the top four spots in the conference, if not the number one spot, ensuring them a first round bye in the conference tournament. Without this bye, the Miners will need to win four games in a row in as many days to become the conference tournament champion. UTEP has been called soft and they have played soft, so can this win provide them the spark they need to truly believe in themselves? Can they prove to the rest of the conference and media that they really are the most experienced team in the country and won’t be bullied around anymore? I think they can and will, but only if they do it as a team.

Christian Polk’s def ense helped in the Miner win. Jeff Taylor


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note WORTHY Rifle: UTEP rifle team’s Alix Moncada (left) was selected to participate in the air rifle portion of the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Rifle Championships, March 11-12 in Columbus, Ga., as announced by the NCAA on Thursday. This will be the second appearance for Moncada, who was selected to participate in 2009 and finished eighth. She is one of nine individuals outside the 40 competitors who was selected from the team rosters submitted by the top eight teams selected to participate. A first team All-American in 2010, Moncada fired in all 11 contests for the Miners this campaign. She led UTEP in air gun, posting a season average of 589, shooting 590 or better in six matches, including five with a 591 mark. The junior from Victoria, Tamaulipas, Mexico, registered the second-best average in smallbore with 570, twice firing a season-best 576 (vs. Nevada and at TCU).

Track and Field & Cross Country: The Miners swept the men’s and women’s weight throw and 5,000-meter run competitions for four UTEP titles. The women’s team is in first place with 39 points after the first day of action. SMU sits in second place with 33 points and East Carolina is in third with 28. The men are third with 34 points behind first place Houston (47) and Memphis (36.50). Senior Terran Alexander defended her title in the women’s 20 lb. weight throw recording a mark of 18.85m (61-10.25). All-American Dimitrios Fylladitakis (left) took the men’s weight throw title with a distance of 20.49m (67-02.75). Justice Chirchir claimed the men’s 5,000m crown with a time of 14:22.92. All-American Risper Kimaiyo and Kathya Garcia teamed up for a one-two finish in the women’s 5,000-meter race. Kimaiyo set a new meet record in the women’s 5,000-meter run clocking in at 16:15.98 for first place. Garcia crossed the finish line at 16:35.27. Photos: Moncada - Ivan Pierre Aguirre/UTEP Athletics; Fylladitakis - UTEP Athletics


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MBB: AROUND THE LEAGUE (continued) UCF Arena. Rompza ended the game with six points, while Marcus Jordan and A.J. Tyler led the way for the Knights (18-9, 5-9 C-USA) offensively, scoring 20 and 14 points respectively. The Golden Eagles (21-7, 9-5 C-USA) had great performances from R.L. Horton and Maurice Bolden, who scored 20 and 15 respectively, but they did not get any production out of Gary Flowers. The senior forward came into the game averaging 19.8 points per game but was held to six points, his lowest output of the year. East Carolina 71, Rice 68 HOUSTON, Texas – Thanks to a 3-pointer by Jontae Sherrod with 2.3 seconds to play in regulation, East Carolina defeated Rice, 71-68, Saturday inside Tudor Fieldhouse. The Pirates (15-13, 7-7 Conference USA) are on a two-game winning streak after defeating UTEP last week. Jamar Abrams had 18 points, and Sherrod ended with 17 for East Carolina. Rice (12-16, 4-10) was led by senior Tamir Jackson, who finished with 18 points. Lucas Kuipers added 15 points while Arsalan Kazemi recorded a double-double (13 points and 11 rebounds). Tulsa 66, Tulane 59 TULSA, Okla. – Justin Hurtt scored 24 points to lead Tulsa to a 66-59 victory over Tulane Saturday night at the Donald W. Reynolds Center. The Golden Hurricane (16-12, 9-5 C-USA) also had a good performance from Steven Idlet, who was one rebound shy of a double-double with 16 points and nine rebounds. Hurtt and Idlet were the only players to score in double digits for Tulsa. The Green Wave (12-15, 2-12 C-USA) received a double-double (27 points, 10 rebounds) from Kendall Timmons, while two other players, Jordan Callahan (15) and Johnny Mayhane (13) scored in double digits.

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THE FINAL WORD: Much Left to be Done Before the Madness ALEX MORALES I, along with every other Miner fan, noticed the UTEP basketball team’s season spiraling out of control a few weeks ago. They had lost three out of their last four games, heading into the showdown against Memphis at the Don Haskins Center, and I knew if the

Tim Floyd did more than just fire up his team Saturday after noon. He may have awoken his team in just in time for the conf erence tour nament. Jeff Taylor

team didn’t get their priorities together something was going to snap. Well something did, and it was head coach Tim Floyd. Floyd was the recipient of two technical fouls against East Carolina on Feb. 23 in Greensboro, N.C. The second technical foul got him tossed from the game and what happened after that is, as

they say, “history.” While Floyd’s tantrum was gaining steam on ESPN and local airwaves the next morning, I couldn’t be happier that someone on this team finally showed some emotion. I was glad he didn’t leave the court right when he got ejected. I was ecstatic that he stayed to fight for his players and made sure the referees heard everything he had to say before being escorted off. He showed his players that he has their back. Something Tony Barbee and Billy Gillespie never did. It took a police officer, for heaven’s sake, to get Floyd to leave the court. Who doesn’t love a coach who will do anything for his players? The sequence of events reminded me of the glory days when “The Bear” used to prowl along the sidelines, earning his technical fouls on occasion. Floyd had to do this for his team because the Miners were going in the wrong direction. The Miners needed this shot in the arm, or they were done. End of story. Before the ejection, UTEP had lacked the drive and the will power to separate themselves from the rest of the teams in Conference USA. The main thing the team lacked was swagger. Heck, if you are the defending conference champions, play like it. Even senior Julyan Stone said that this team was “soft” after a loss. Considering this team is the most experienced team in the country, you’d figure they would find a way to overcome that deficiency. The Miners were playing the last couple of games as if they had nothing to play for, like there was nothing hanging in the balance. Well there were plenty of things on the line. First, they had the regular season conference championship title in their grasp for the second straight year. Second, and the most important, was a first-round bye in the conference tournament. It seemed like neither goal motivated the players as they coasted along continued on page 16


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THE FINAL WORD continued during the season, playing inconsistent basketball, until earning its first two-game losing streak. UTEP was playing catch-up basketball for the majority of the season. The games in which they created sizable leads, they couldn’t put the team away, such as the Southern Miss game. Every fan seemed to think this team was at wits end, but I knew better. Coach Floyd had to do something drastic, and what he did in Greensboro was exactly what the doctor ordered. His ejection brought this team back together. He gave them something to fight for, a rally cry so to speak. It’s “UTEP against the world.” The only question was if the team was going to buy into this? The question was answered within

days as UTEP trounced Memphis and handed the Tigers its worst loss in recent memory to a conference opponent. This was one of, if not the most talented teams that the Miners played all year long. They went into the half leading the Tigers by 13, just like they did against Southern Miss. This time they put the game out of reach. Memphis never had a chance to get back into the game. Everyone played with passion and a lockdown defense. The team finally played to its potential. The swagger that disappeared from a championship team re-appeared almost instantly. After the game, coach Floyd brought that mentality of “UTEP against the world” to the attention of everyone.

He called out ESPN and everyone that has doubted this team. It’s clear that this team is angry and has regained its swagger. The team’s vision is no longer cloudy and it seems as though they’re ready to accomplish what they set out for at the beginning of the season. Win the C-USA Championship. This can all be attributed to one person: Tim Floyd. His ejection may have caught the national attention he did not want, but more importantly, the overall message was heard by the 15 people that he knew needed reassurance. Tim Floyd saved the season, and I know the season is nowhere close to being over.


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Excited about the Conference USA Men’s and Women’s basketball tournament to start? Aren’t sure about who you should look out for on the court? Don’t fret! Miner Illustrated will have everything broken down for you with a special edition of Miner Illustrated Magazine on March 4. We’ll tell you who’s hot, who’s not, and who we think will win it all.

m ner illustrated.com


signing OFF

Jeff Taylor



Miner Illustrated Magazine: Vol 1, Issue 8