We're into week 3 of our UTEP Dream Team series. The team so far includes the bruising David "Big Daddy" Lattin as the starting center and the peerless Jim "Bad News" Barnes as the starting power forward. This week we take a look at some of the great small forwards in Miner history. The list is stacked and includes the likes of Nolan Richardson, Willie Cager, Gus Bailey, Roshern Amie, Juden Smith, Quintan Gates, Chris Blocker, Ralph Davis, Will Smith, Roy Smallwood, and Omar Thomas. Who gets to start along side Big Daddy & Bad News on the UTEP Dream Team? Let's find out...
Below are the stat sheets for these 11 players:
|Player||Total Points||Total Rebounds||Total Assists||Total Blocks||Total Steals|
|Roshern Amie||1118||512||59 *||20 *||13 *|
Note that Omar Thomas and Chris Blocker played only 2 years in UTEP Miner uniforms, which diminishes their career stat totals significantly. Even with a short career though, Omar Thomas still manages to get into the 1,000 points club (29 members strong).
Nolan Richardson played 3 seasons for the Miners and his stats do something unusual, as they decline in almost every category as his career progressed. I theorize that there are 2 main factors contributing to Richardson's declining numbers: the arrival of Don Haskins as head coach and his defense-first minded style of play in Nolan's second year and the arrival of Jim Barnes in Nolan's last year. Barnes ate up most of the rebounds and points for the Miners. Still, somewhat surprisingly, Richardson's numbers manage to be among the best on this list in many categories.
If you're voting based on which player's team won the most games, then your best option is Willie Cager, who was an important and solid player on the 1966 championship team.
Roy Smallwood and Ralph Davis were not dominant players but both had long and solid careers at UTEP, racking up points and rebounds along the way. Davis and Smallwood are the only 2 small forwards in UTEP's top ten list of all time scorers.
Gus Bailey, Roshern Amie, and Will Smith are cursed by having played in eras in which Miner basketball was not going to the NCAA Tournament year in and year out. But all three were outstanding Miners nonetheless.
The 1980's are well represented with Quintan Gates, Juden Smith, and Chris Blocker.
Only 3 of these small forwads are in the 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, 200 assists club (Juden Smith, Will Smith, and Roy Smallwood). Nolan Richardson might have been, but we'll never know for sure because assist stats weren't kept in the 60's. Smallwood and Ralph Davis probably have the most balanced all-time stats of anyone on this list.
The big outlier in points per game in this category is Omar Thomas averaging an unusually high 18 points per game. Nolan Richardson is the only player who comes close, and as I've already noted, he probably did have the talent and skill to average more points per game, but his numbers declined from averaging 21 per game his first year to a career average of 14 with the arrivals of Haskins and Bad News Barnes.
In terms of rebounding, most players on the list averaged about 4-6 rebounds per game. Richardson leads the way by a somewhat significant margin though, hauling in 7.6 rebounds per game. The high average can be attributed to his stellar first year once again though when he average 9.2 rebounds and then dropped in year two to 2.9 rebounds per game.
Chris Blocker is near the bottom of the rankings in nearly every category except for assists per game, where he leads the way. This illustrates how unique Blocker's game was from other small forwards on this list. Some would even say this isn't the right position to list Blocker as.
Ralph Davis and Roy Smallwood lead the way in blocks per game while Omar Thomas is best at steals by a considerable margin.
That's the story the stats tell us, but now comes the fun and important part. Who does your memory tell you is the best Miner small forward of all time?