MINER ILLUSTRATED VOL 1 ISSUE 27
OCTOBER 26, 2011
MINER ILLUSTRATED VOL I ISSUE 27
This probably has to be the most hectic time of year for all of us here at Miner Illustrated, and trust me, I’m not complaining in the least. Football is in full swing, soccer and volleyball are approaching the end of their regular season all while the next major sport, basketball, is finally underway with practices. For us, that means reading up on every bit of information we can get our hands on from articles from the national media about the Miners, checking out the beat writer from each school and attending as many practices as we possibly can. It’s a crazy schedule to have, but thankfully I have a wife who enjoys this just as much as I do, so it’s wonderful and a tremendous support. (Not to mention she LOVES knowing about the team that no one else does, as does my mother-in-law... I think I may have created media monsters with this company.) I jest, but the fact of the mater is this: as you get a chance to read this issue as well as the articles online, know that all of us here at Miner Illustrated are working diligently to bring you information you won’t readily find anywhere else. That said, we are happy to kick off the basketball season with our unofficial basketball issue. There is a lot of buzz around both the men’s and women’s teams with both having a number of changes during the offseason. Both teams welcome a slew of new players with talent and drive to help take their respective program to another level, and I’m not just saying that because it’s catchy; it’s absolutely true. Jenzel Nash is UTEP’s first Parade All-American and Keitha Adams is excited to have her on the team. With nine new faces on the men’s team, Tim Floyd has a wonderful challenge in front of him; can he mold all the talent into one chohesive unit? Let’s not forget about the football team and their resiliency.
OCTOBER 26, 2011
a publication of Shamrock Media LLC CHRIS AVILA PRESIDENT and EDITOR-IN-CHIEF JEFF TAYLOR CHIEF PHOTOGRAPHER GUS CONTRERAS SAL GUERRERO ANGEL LUNA ALEX MORALES JOSH PUGA STAFF WRITERS DANNY LEVARIO DIRECTOR OF BUSINESS OPERATIONS SUZETTE THOMPSON MAGAZINE DESIGN
Letters to the editor, general feedback and advertising inquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s an exciting time at UTEP and I’m glad we are along for the ride so we can bring you the very best!
Cover photo: Senior forward Gabe McCulley poses with the Miner pick axe. Photo: Ivan Pierre Aguirre/UTEP Athletics
THE BIG PICK
Sophomore def ensive back Adrian James made a tremendous leap to cut off the pass to Colorado Stateâ€™s Thomas Coffman and subsequently retur ned the interception 74 yards in the Miner win Saturday night in the Sun Bowl. Jeff Taylor
Junior linebacker Aubrey Alexius made quick work of Colorado State running back Chris Nwoke as Nwoke was tackled or a loss. Jeff Taylor
Sophomore defensive lineman Marcus Bagley celebrated after the game with an effigy of the Colorado State ram mascot. Jeff Taylor
Sophomore def ensive lineman Germard Reed made his presence known as he tackled Colorado State wide receiver Lou Greenwood. Greenwood was shaken up on the play and had to be assisted off the field by CSU trainers. Jeff Taylor
1 0 Small Changes Help With Tulane Preparations Wow, very well put. Although this is along shot, what are the rumors of the ex-Tech coach Mike Leach coming to El Paso in the near future? In the near future I think it would be possible for UTEP to become something similar to TCU. Thanks for the information on the new recruit (WR), he over looked a few solid programs for UTEP. john79924 Game 6: UTEP at Tulane Preview I do not understand why UTEP has to win a total of 7 games to become bowl eligible, does the SB game not count? I was under the assumtion that a DIV I AA game counts as a victory every year, can you please clarify? john79924 UTEP does not need to win 7 games. The SB game does count. As an FBS school, you are allowed to play 1 FCS school a year…Tulane, however, does need to win 7 games because they have a 13 game schedule this year. In order to become bowl eligible you need to finish at .500 or better. Obviously, 6-7 doesn’t get that done, so they need to win 7. Anthony Salom Ok thanks, if it all do you all know or have heard of the recently released news of the merger between C-USA and the MWC? It has just been posted with no news whether or not teams or leaving if the merger is legit. john79924 Guerrero: UTEP Pleasantly Surprised Me Great Miner win!! What a trouncing. Complete domination on the lines. If you look back at the losses, there aren’t as bad. Miners lost Lamasion against SMU, which if he was playing probably
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would have played out differently. USF game, no Lamasion. Then the shootout against Houston, which was anyone’s game with Lamasion at the helm.
Lamasion has proven to be an effective leader. He needs to work on decisionmaking, but I think UTEP has enough to return back to a bowl game this year. That would be incredible! 4 bowl games in 8 years for the Price era. Not too shabby. ptowncoug
about her being a cheerleader. DFWMiner
Loved the story Sal. Keep up the work, been a big fan of your articles since you came on board. Rich Avila: Four Down, Two to Go
I’m really hoping UTEP gets another Defensive End! UTEP needs a premier pass rusher to compliment current red shirted freshman Roy Robertson.
I hate to be the Debbie Downer but the Miners need 3 more wins in order to be bowl eligible. The Stony Brook victory was a win against an FCS-1 team, although it counts in the win/loss column it does not count toward bowl eligibility because UTEP defeated Arkansas-Pine Bluff last year. The rules state that a victory over an FCS-1 team only counts toward bowl eligibility every two years. So UTEP already used that eligibility last year. Sorry folks
Nice to see CWJR wearing that shirt. I’m sure it could just be something big brother gave him, but I’m gonna say that’s something he got from being recruited. Anthony January was wearing that same shirt in some pics.
Facebook post --> New poll: The Miners are 10-point underdogs this week; Will they get the win against Southern Miss? Vote at minerillustrated.com.
Scouting Mine: Oct. 18, 2011 Nice video of Washburn! DFWMiner
As far as CWJR, its great to see him rebound, outlet, run the floor, and finish with that kind of authority. It may just be open gym, but if he plays like that in real games, he’ll be a serious force to be reckoned with. Anthony Salom
The lights out actually made for a really great show. If they kill the lights and have a half time performance like that, I think it’d be a great intro for the team to come running onto the field as the lights turn on...maybe even some special effects where fake boulders are being destroyed as the team comes out of the locker room. Like an NFL entrance. Daniel Stephen
WBB: Nash Almost Didn’t Play Basketball Great write up! I never pay attention to girls basketball but that’s pretty cool
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by the NUMBERS 8
is on pace for 1,553 which would mark the seventh-best seasonal figure in Miner annals.
Over the last three contests UTEP has compiled 271, 266 and 340 yards rushing. It’s the second-best three-game stretch for the Miners in the modern era of football, narrowly eclipsed by the 878 yards accumulated versus Colorado State (241), Wyoming (318) and Air Force (319) in November of 1984. However, this marks the first time that UTEP has rushed for 266 yards or more in three straight games since 1965.
167 Vernon Frazier rushed for a careerhigh 167 yards versus Colorado State last week. His previous best was 89 yards against Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Sept. 4, 2010. Frazier’s 83-yard scoring run in the third quarter tied for the fifth-longest rushing play in school history. It was also the longest rush by a
UTEP player since Willie Fuller versus Utah in 1988 (90 yards). Frazier has scored a TD in backto-back games for the first time in his Miner career. He led UTEP in rushing for the second time versus CSU, the first coming on Sept. 27, 2008 against UCF when he ran for 73 yards.
31.7 Besides igniting the UTEP ground game, Vernon Frazier is also sixth in the FBS in kickoff returns (31.7 avg.) for a Miner team that is third in the category (28.3 avg.). Frazier has had a kickoff return of 40 yards or more in five of seven games this season (50 versus Stony Brook, 43 at SMU, 48 at NM State, 67 at USF, 42 versus Colorado State). He had 243 all-purpose yards versus Colorado State, the second-most by a UTEP player in 2011 behind Joe Banyard’s 256 against Houston on Sept. 29. With a team-high 906 all-purpose yards in 2011, Frazier
UTEP has held opponents under 20 points in eight of 20 games since Andre Patterson took over as defensive coordinator for the 2010 season. That’s particularly impressive when you consider that the Miners kept foes under 20 points eight times in the previous 57 games prior to his arrival.
255 The stop troops yielded a seasonlow 255 yards and 10 points to Colorado State (the Rams scored another touchdown off a 45yard interception return). UTEP has allowed less than 300 yards in a game 17 times since Mike Price’s arrival in 2004, including on six occasions under defensive coordinator Andre Patterson’s watch since 2010.
The Miners’ 340 yards rushing against Colorado State were their most in a game since Sept. 16, 1995 versus Valdosta State (346), and their most versus an FBS opponent since Nov. 20, 1993 against New Mexico (350). Only seven times since 1965 has UTEP run for more than 340 yards in a game.
Itâ€™s not your average Cincinnati District watering hole.
Outdoor patio with an upscale atmosphere.
Lounge and Patio
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ON DECK: Getting to Know Floyd’s Mystery Men JOSH PUGA
As the UTEP men’s basketball team is preparing for the 2011-2012 season, I am left to wonder if most fans even know the names and faces of the newest additions to this year’s team. No, I am not talking to the small percentage of diehard fans that eat, sleep and breathe UTEP basketball. I am talking about the majority of casual basketball fans that follow the Miners year after year. I have a feeling a lot of fans in the Don Haskins Center are going to get good use out of the basketball programs starting with the first game with the University of Texas at San Antonio Roadrunners on November 11th. How many players do fans really know? If I had to venture a guess I would say most fans know senior Gabriel McCulley and sophomores John Bohannon and Mike Perez. Ok, maybe even Kevin Perry, who also plays football for the Miners, after that it might be a little fuzzy. Now, I’m not calling anyone out here, especially those fans that attend games regularly. I am merely pointing out that this will be a learning experience for both the new players and the loyal basketball fans. The Miners have three players returning (McCulley, Bohannon and Perez) that played more than 10 minutes per game last season. Coach Tim Floyd has 10 new players to throw into the mix this season, including eight freshmen starting their basketball careers at UTEP. So for the purposes of this column, I wanted to give the fans a quick cliff notes preview on the newest members of the men’s basketball team and where I feel they will fit in this season. To simplify things I separated the 10 newest players into three groups: New Starters, Role Players and Future Stars.
New Starters: junior point guard Jacques Streeter, junior power forward Malcolm Moore and freshman small forward/guard Julian Washburn. Streeter is probably the most well known of the bunch because while he couldn’t play, he was able to practice with the team last season due to NCAA transfer rules (Cal State Fullerton transfer) and should be the most ready to hit the floor this season. He is the front-runner to lead the point and will be one of the main leaders on the team. The speedy point guard will get his teammates involved, but he can also score the basketball. Moore is a junior college transfer from Tyler, Texas and will see playing time immediately with this young team. Moore is a low-post scorer and should be a nice scoring option in the Miner frontcourt. He will also be an asset on the boards and body-wise will be able to bang with the bigger players in Conference USA. Washburn was originally going to be in my future stars group and he may very well be the next UTEP star with his elite abilities, but with McCulley’s injury I feel he will be called upon to start as a freshman. Washburn has an excellent offensive game and with his length and speed he will be able defend almost every position on the floor. Role Players: freshman point guard CJ Cooper, freshman point guard Tim Jacobs, freshman power forward Cedrick Lang and freshman power/ small forward Hooper Vint. Cooper is an interesting player and although he wasn’t highly rated as high school senior, he knows how to win and wants the ball especially with the game on the line. Out of the rest of the role players on this least I feel he is the most likely to make the jump to a future Miner star. Cooper will see the floor as one of Streeter’s backups, especially as Floyd uses the threeguard lineup.
Jacobs is an underrated player that could have a major impact on this team in a few years. He will have a hard time getting on the floor with some of the other point guards ahead of him (Streeter, Campbell and Cooper), but he is a heady player and will only get better with time. Lang is one of the lesser know players on the team coming all the way from South Dakota, but with the lack of size in the frontcourt he will be on the court logging some decent minutes as a true freshman. The 6-foot 8 inch, 225-pound Lang is a big body down low and a hard worker. He will be called upon to rebound and play hard on defense. Vint was the last player added by Floyd for the 2011 recruiting class and he has a ton of potential. He needs to bulk up, but at a legit 6-feet 11 inches, his length will help on the boards and on the defensive end. Vint has a nice offensive skill set with the ability to hit open shots all the way out to the three point line. Future Stars: freshman point guard D’von Campbell, freshman guard/small forward Darius Nelson and freshman shooting guard Jalen Ragland. Campbell may only be 5-feet 9 inches tall, but his is lighting quick and knows how to score the basketball, in my opinion he will remind people of Filiberto Rivera with his ability to get teammates involved and quickness on defense. Has some work to do to before he lives up to the Rivera comparisons, but he has the potential to be a standout point guard for UTEP. Nelson comes to El Paso as arguably one of the most touted recruits UTEP has signed over the last decade. The 3-star rated Nelson can flat out score from anywhere on the court and for a frontcourt player handles the ball extremely well. Had some weight issues prior to coming to campus, but according to Floyd he worked really hard over the summer and dropped
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Senior Gloria Brown, seen here last season against New Mexico, should have a major role with the team this season. Brown was named to the Conf erence USA Preseason All-Conf erence team two weeks ago. Jeff Taylor
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ADAMS LOOKS TO BUILD ONTEAM’S SUCCESS SAL GUERRERO
With the beginning of UTEP women’s basketball season closing in quickly, head coach Keitha Adams is gearing up for her 10th season as the Miners general, but this year may be a bit different with six newcomers to the team and the loss of a veteran from last season.
Returning this season is point guard Briana Green who missed a big junk of last season after blowing out her knee for the second time in her UTEP basketball career. The senior is back now, but there is no telling where she will be in the lineup, or how she will fair after suffering two knee injuries in three years. When Green went down last season it was sophomore (then a freshman) point guard Kelli Willingham who took control of the team. The DeSoto High School graduate handled the season well for being thrown in the lions den so young leading the team in assists, free-throw percentage, minutes per game and steals per game. Her leadership is welcomed this year with all the new recruits and according to Adams Willingham will play fewer minutes than she did last season. Down on the blocks the Miners return Conference USA 2011 Newcomer and Sixth Player in the Year in forward Gloria Brown. Although she was troubled last year with conditioning, Brown managed to lead UTEP in blocks and field goal percentage. When Brown found her way into the lineup she added another dynamic to the team in the post. She plays the same style of basketball that former UTEP men’s basketball player Derrick Caracter played during his college career. Brown was an immediate impact when she first starting seeing action last season. Adams has said this year she wants her team to be a more run-and-gun offense, meaning Brown may see more off the bench play in half court sets. When Brown is not on the court, sophomore Kayla Thornton will be. Thornton is an El Paso native who burst onto the scene last season with her rebounding ability and eye for steals. In high school Thornton was a track star and she brings that same speed to the hardwood running up and down the court like a small guard rather than a forward. If she plays her cards right and stays out of foul trouble, Thornton can be C-USA’s best player in the next two years. Rounding out some other notable returners is junior Anete Steinberga and senior Baiba Eglite. Both these players
hail from their respective European countries, but have completely different styles that help lead the Miners. Baiba is a lights-out shooter who has come through from the three-point line more than anyone on the team right now. Steinberga is another forward who has some of the quickest feet on the team and a natural shot that usually finds the net one way or another. Kim Smith and Erica Warren will provide consistent play for the team all year as great role players to the starting group. Warren can be a lights out shooter, but she has been inconsistent at times that set her back in terms of minutes per game. She averaged 4.9 points per game last season. Among the new recruits there is a big buzz around freshman guard Jenzel Nash who hails from Houston. Nash is an All-American who comes to UTEP after leading the nation in scoring as a senior in high school. She is arguably the most watched player this season and with that comes pressure. Nash is going from being the best scorer in the nation to being a role player; her transition will be the most interesting of all the freshmen. The other freshman to watch out for is guard Chrishauna Parker who like Nash, played her high school ball in Houston. Parker is one of the taller guards on the team, but don’t mistake her height, she plays a fast game of basketball. After only two weeks of practice she looks the most promising of the newcomers. Parker averaged a double-double in high school, but Adams said it is not her stats that made her a great recruit, it was her basketball IQ that makes the freshman deadly. There is no question there will be a major impact from rookies this season. With Nash and Parker there is also guards Syerra David, Ryah Lacy, Melisa Mendes and Marissa Rodriguez. Guard Whitney Houston transferred last season, but a knee injury sidelined her for the entire season. She is still injured but should see some playing time this year. With fresh faces waiting to make a splash this year, the season line matchups should be much more enticing. UTEP opens the season with an exhibition against St. Marys Nov. 5. While I think this may come as a very easy win (last seasons it was a 67-37 slaughter) this could prove to be the game with the biggest learning curve. Not challenge here, just horrible basketball from both sides. The most intriguing of all the non-conference games is the match up against rival New Mexico Nov.16. The Miners head to Las Cruces for their first road test of the year, and the first big opponent of the season. Last year UTEP dropped the game against the Aggies at home, which is to say what could happen this season. The Miners will have a repeat
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WITH ALLTHE CHANGE, THERE IS STILL AN EXCITEMENTTO MBB CHRIS AVILA
There was something different about basketball practice the other day. Many things seemed the same as last year: some players walked in early to the building to get treatment before practice, some scrambled in with just enough time to get changed and laced up before Tim Floyd walked in. Managers worked diligently to set up the equipment and practice clocks while trainers prepared each player’s water bottle so that no time would be wasted when there was a break in the action.
There were even coaches working out before practice as they tried to race to get their regimen complete, something that hasn’t changed even from the Tony Barbee era. Yet, through all of that, the vibe in the gym was different. Tim Floyd was the same as last year, excited and full of energy as he paced up and down the court pointing out errors as players worked through drills. Phil Johnson took his familiar spot on the sideline walking up and down the court as well and talking to players who waited their turn at the drill. Perhaps the one difference from last year to this year was a visibly more patient Floyd who appeared to spend just a little more time teaching than cracking the whip and demanding perfection from his players. It will probably be that patience that will carry through most of the season as the newest iteration of UTEP basketball works through the pre-season scramble. For many of the Miner die-hards, it should come as no surprise that the familiar faces are far and few between. The most visible returnee, Gabe McCulley, will be out for at least 6-8 weeks as he underwent surgery on his leg last week. There’s no question that his absence will be missed, but Floyd knows there is no option but to move forward. “Who knows how long it will be,” Floyd said of McCulley’s absence. “These other guys have to use this as an opportunity to go get better.” McCulley’s situation is as simple as that for Floyd, and it’s not because he is being cold-hearted towards the lone
senior, rather it’s the reality of the situation. With the clock ticking away before the first pre-season game of the season (Nov. 3 against Eastern New Mexico), there is no time to dwell on the problems; every moment in practice must be productive and used to educate the newcomers on his expectations of perfection. In fact, despite the challenge of mostly a new team, Floyd’s expectations have not changed nor has his ability to downplay where his team falls on the steep learning curve in front of them. It’s something that he learned from Don Haskins and continues to practice without evening knowing it. “The challenge is the obvious,” Floyd stated. “I think (the team) has to learn; they’re young, they’re frail, they’re weak and they have no information about what we do.” Floyd went on to say, “They are all brand new and we have a lot to cover in terms of every phase of the game; offensively, defensively against zones and man-to-man situations, guarding their opponent and moving into an offensive conversion ... but they are trying. They are all out here (on the court) spending a lot of time working. They are great kids who are very enthusiastic and as a result are getting better.” Perhaps the difference in the gym wasn’t so much in the date, time or circumstances, rather the opportunity Floyd has to mold a team exactly the way he wants. There are no players to try and question and compare his process to Tony Barbee as there was last year. There are no superstars on the team and there are no expectations or pressure to repeat successes from the previous year. Instead, Floyd only has to put the guys to work according to the plan he sees fit. There’s no denying how much the team has worked already. For many, there have been countless hours spent in the gym playing pickup basketball as players like Malcolm Moore, Jalen Ragland, Hooper Vint, Cedric Lang and returnees Mike Perez, John Bohannon and Tyler Tafoya simply got to know each other. As the practices have progressed, it’s evident that those who have had some playing time before have a slight edge. One of those players is Jacques Streeter, a six-foot guard from Los Angeles who transferred to UTEP last season but had to sit our due to NCAA rules. Streeter and Moore have become the players with the most experience by default. Having said that, practices have been challenging to say the least.
The Miners will have to do without senior Gabe McCulley for 6-8 weeks after he under went surgery on his leg. Jeff Taylor
1 8 “We’ve been working a lot on transition defense,” Streeter said. “Floyd is big on transition defense and we have also been dong a lot of pick-and-roll coverage; basically (Floyd) is just getting us ready for the game lengths and preparing everyone for the bruises and bumps that you are going to go through.” Streeter, in addition to Perez, Bohannon and Tafoya, are the few that have been through the rigors of the season and more importantly, a Floyd practice. From Streeter’s perspective, there have been positives to the new class. “It’s been good because this group of guys are good at listening,” Streeter said. “So, right now they are learning a lot and Floyd knows that and he’s been patient. At the same time, we are coming along as a team; everyone has been learning well and I think we are going to be ready when we get (the season) started.” Moore, who has transferred in from Tyler Junior College, echoed Streeter’s comments and added “the biggest obstacle is simply playing hard and playing up to the level that (Floyd) wants us to play at and playing hard the whole time we are in the gym and doing everything right.” “It’s not even about doing everything perfect right now, but more about doing everything hard and putting effort in to everything you do. It’s not hard for some people, but for a lot of freshmen, it might be hard to go a whole three hours playing as hard as you can. I feel for them because I’ve been in that position before, but everyone is doing a good job so far.” Both Streeter and Moore will have to take a more active leadership role until McCulley returns and that doesn’t seem to be a problem for either of them. “I don’t have his voice, so I have to talk more and lead by example,” Streeter said. “It’s a big responsibility, but that’s what I’m here for.”
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Moore said, “I have to lead by example and show (the team) that you have to go hard all the time. It’s as simple as that.” While the two players understand they have an important role on the team, Floyd sees the leadership issue a bit differently with McCulley out. “I think (leadership) is probably going to come from (the coaches),” Floyd said. “(They players) are all too new to do that. Maybe they can rely on the older guys on how much harder you have to play, but in terms of telling the team what to do, that will probably
have to come from (the staff).” By the time this article is published, there will be three days till the public gets their first chance to see the Miners up close and personal. In a departure from last year, Floyd will have an open scrimmage that the public is welcome to attend prior to the football game against Southern Mississippi with the team signing autographs after by the Sun Bowl. The scrimmage is as much about showing off the new players and getting
everyone excited as it is an opportunity for Floyd and his staff to evaluate the players and their reaction to a crowd. For anyone who knows Floyd, there will be constant adjustments of lineups, offensive set plays and how the defense is run until his is satisfied with the product. He’ll have to make a number of adjustments quickly if he doesn’t like what he sees this weekend as the season and home opener against U.T. San Antonio lingers in the near horizon. After the opener, there doesn’t seem to be any easy break, as UTEP will travel to Oregon, UNLV and to Hawaii for the Diamond Head Classic. Sprinkle in challenging games with archrival NMSU and Colorado State in the Bank of the West Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational and it seems as if there will be very little room for error. There’s no doubt Floyd understands the challenge ahead of him, and to tell the truth, probably wouldn’t have it any other way. Miner fans might not want it any other way. Though it all, for as much change as there has been with the program in the last several months, there really hasn’t been much change at all. Practice progressed much the same as in the previous season. The opening warm-up drills still focused on quick and efficient passing while utilizing good footwork. Defensive sets weren’t easier because of the new faces and there was still a high level of attention given to every detail as the lesson was being taught. Just like last season, Floyd had no problem getting in the face of a player to point out why something was not being done correctly but not castigating. At the end of it all, maybe there really wasn’t anything different about practice; the only difference was the challenge and excitement of a new season with the opportunity for something great to happen.
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Volleyball Notes: Stephanie Figueroa registers a current season total of 415 digs, just eight away from breaking Christy Cranks UTEP all-time record of 423 digs that was set in 1996. Elsa Reyes holds the top spot on the chart with a season best of 632 set in 2006. Figueroa holds the third highest season mark with 476 set in 2010.
Xitlali Herrera ranks fifth among UTEP’s all-time block assists leaders with 107 and counting. Herrera surpassed Jacqui Nosan’s record of 103 that had been upheld since 2000. The only person who has outdone either of those records is Cynthia Ruelas-Macias who holds the top four spots with a season-best of 122 in 1993 and 1997. Herrera knows how to finish what she starts. The sophomore transfer is hitting a team-best .334(.57)clip. The feat is on its way to becoming the best in the history of the program for hitting efficiency in a season. Jacqui Nosan currently holds the top spot registering a season-best of .359 in 2000. The UTEP Volleyball team is currently 16-8. The last time the Miners accomplished the feat came in 1985 when they were 18-6. Photo: UTEP Athletics
Soccer: The UTEP soccer team was derailed by SMU, 2-1, at University Field Sunday afternoon. The Miners (10-6-3, 4-4-2) vaulted out to a 1-0 lead on a goal from Azia Nicholson (left) at 33:09 only to have the Mustangs (10-7-1, 6-3-1) post the comefrom-behind triumph thanks to a pair of second-half strikes from Briana Gaines (56:00, 87:47). It marks the initial setback at home in 2011 for the Orange and Blue, who slip to 8-1-2 at the venue. Mackenzie German turned in a solid performance with an assist on Nicholson’s tally while freshman netminder Sarah Dilling impressed with six stops. UTEP registered eight shots, including four on goal, while taking three corners. It was a physical contest with 17 fouls, 12 of which went against the visitors. A ball was sent into space for German, who beat three SMU players to it. She then deftly lofted a cross to a cutting Nicholson, who took one dribble before lacing the shot into the back of the net to afford the home side a 1-0 lead at 33:09. The Mustangs pulled even in the 56th minute. A couple of passes set up Grines with a clean look inside the box. She then unleashed a shot which bested Dilling. Later in the match Grines scored the go-ahead goal thanks to a loose ball that Dilling was unable to contain. UTEP will look to get back on track when it plays host to Colorado College in its “senior night” contest at 7 p.m. MT Friday at University Field. Photo: Ivan Pierre Aguirre/UTEP Athletics
2 0 WBB (continued)
matchup with the Aggies Nov. 29 at the Don. These games will determine bragging rights for the rest of the season. Out of the non-conference games the Miners will have their hands full with Arizona State and New Mexico because both games will be played on the road. Away games have been UTEP’s biggest downfall the past two seasons. UC Santa Barbara and Denver games are both in the Don, which should give the Miners an edge. Last year UTEP lost to both those teams on the road. The Miners begin C-USA play on the road this season at SMU Jan. 5. The Miners dropped both regular season games to the Mustangs last season — both games were decided by four points or under. SMU is picked to finish eighth in the conference, but something tells me this may come as the teams’ first loss. Three days after SMU the Miners play their first C-USA game at home against the Memphis Tigers Jan. 8. Coming as no surprise, Memphis is
On Deck (continued)
over 30 pounds to get ready for the season. Look out for Nelson as he could make an immediate impact this season with McCulley’s injury. Ragland is an intriguing wing player with a non-stop motor. He is a great shooter all the way out to the 3-point
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picked to finish first in the conference, UTEP will have a tough time beating the Tigers, even at home. This will be the toughest game of the second half of the season. The first big road test of the year comes in the middle of January when the Miners face Tulane on the 15 at New Orleans and East Carolina on the 18 in Greenville, N. C. The Green Wave will be a tough game for UTEP and who’s to say how much energy will be
spent on that first leg of the trip. Good for the Miners this season is they only have to play Central Florida one time this season Jan. 29 at the Don Haskins. This game is my measuring stick game. If the UTEP has not gotten their act together by this game, we may see a tough last half by the rest of the season. After the UCF game the Miners play eight more games (four at
line and has the tools to be a great scorer. He is a versatile athlete that can rebound and defend effectively. At 175 pounds, Ragland needs to get much stronger to prepare for the rigors of Division-1 basketball, but in time he will be a huge asset to the Floyd’s squad. If he is redshirted, I would not be a surprised although I don’t think that will be the case with UTEP needing
home, four away). By this point in the season they should be above .500 vying for a shot at third place in conference. As much as I would like to predict the Miners winning almost all of their games this season, I cannot. UTEP has a young team with a ton of talent both in the paint and on the perimeter. This season there may too many growing pains to see the full potential of the roster. From what I saw last season this team would be a sleeper in C-USA, and with Thornton, Brown, Willingham and Nash this team might turn some heads. The team will end up somewhere around third possibly even fourth place when the seasons over. The C-USA tournament is in Memphis this year and with the Miners luck, they will draw the Tigers. This year’s team won’t make the Big Dance on account of home court advantage for Memphis. Predictions: Regular season: 19-10 C-USA Tournament: Second round exit.
all hands on deck this season. Sure seems like a lot to digest and there is little doubt this will be a rollercoaster ride with many ups and downs on the horizon this season. However, they will be fun to watch as Floyd and his staff starts molding this young team this year and the years that follow. The wait is almost over.
M I N E R I L L U S T R AT E D. C O M
THE FINAL WORD: Are the Miners BowlWorthy? JOSH PUGA After UTEP’s 31-17 homecoming win over the Colorado State Rams, it appears the Miners are on the right track to keep their bowl dreams alive and just maybe a winning season to boot. There is still a long way to go with five games left on the schedule and a huge home game coming up with No. 25 (USA Today) Southern Mississippi this Saturday in the Sun Bowl, but the Miners have put themselves in position to close out the season on a high note and a possible bowl berth with two more wins. After UTEP’s first-two game win streak of the season, you get the feeling this could be the start of something special. But before we start popping open the champagne, there is some work to be done for Coach Mike Price and his team. First, the good news: the offensive line and running game are playing lights out football. After rushing for 346 yards in the first four games of the season, UTEP rushing attack has exploded for 845 yards rushing in the last three games (Houston, Tulane and Colorado State). For the math majors’ keeping count at home, that’s over 280 yards per game. Suffice to say the running backs and offensive line have taken some pressure off Lamaison and the suddenly inconsistent passing game. Defensively, the Miners are finally playing like we all thought they would and are doing great work in the red zone and creating turnovers. In the last two wins, the defense has caused six turnovers and has improved on their tackling with every game. Defensive coordinator Andre Patterson and his defensive staff have done an excellent job over the last two weeks and the results speak for
themselves. Now some bad news, one area that has been a strength is special teams and while I shouldn’t nitpick too much since the Miners got the win it was still disconcerting to see Colorado State have some much success on punt and kickoff returns. I realize it was only one game, but I would hate for the issues to continue for the rest of the season. One other area for concern is the UTEP passing game which hasn’t prevented the Miners from losing their last two games, but hasn’t contributed as I felt they should against some porous defenses.
Prior to the Colorado State game I didn’t feel that way, I was pretty confident that UTEP would get the win. Sure there were some of those “Miner” moments we know all too well with some boneheaded penalties and a couple of turnovers, but even when the game was close I felt the Miners were still in control, especially playing in the Sun Bowl (road games are an entirely different feeling). Prior to the season with so many questions surrounding the team, I admit I didn’t know exactly what to expect; after the last two weeks I am really enjoying what I am seeing from this team. I know I have mentioned it before, but the fight and determination alone is refreshing for a team that doesn’t have a bunch of superstar players. There is no sense of entitlement, no heads hanging low, this is a team that wants to be there for each other and do everything they can to pull out a win. Frankly, up to this point I really believe this has been one of Price’s best coaching jobs since his has been at UTEP. He has always preached to have fun and you can actually see that more this year than the last four or five years. Having said that, it’s understandable that when you are winning, everything seems fun. A tough loss could change that in a hurry. However, even if they do drop a game, Price will be there to get them up for the next one. Hopefully he won’t have to do that anytime soon. So are the Miners on their way to a bowl game? Still a little too early to tell, but they are looking the part.
After UTEP’s first two-game win streak of the season, you get the feeling this could be the start of something special. But before we start popping open the champagne, there is some work to be done. Following the close lost to Houston, I felt Lamaison would flourish and that hasn’t been the case. I understand I shouldn’t be too harsh when the running game as been so effective, but sooner or later one of the upcoming C-USA opponents is going to slow down the running game and the Miners will need Lamaison and the pass offense to shoulder some of the load with some high powered offenses left on the schedule. I have always been one of those UTEP fans that doesn’t want get too hyped with the recent results, but there is just something about this team that feels a bit different. Usually after a big win similar to Tulane, I think to myself get ready for the letdown and usually the Miners deliver.
Def ensive celebrations. Jeff Taylor
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