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UTEP Women's Basketball: Two or Three Must Haves

With a lot of turnover from last year's WNIT run, the UTEP women will be faced with the adversity of building identities.


With five newcomers, and a mixture of returning producers, the UTEP women's team will have a horse of a different color when they take the floor in their season opener against NMSU on Friday that gets underway at 5:30 p.m in the Don.

Gone is the winningest recruiting class in program history, and now enters two very talented true freshman, and a pair of JUCO transfers who look to add a positive chemistry mix with those returnees this season.

Cameasha Turner, Chrishaunna Parker, Sparkle Taylor and Stacie Telles were major role parts last year who each have the experience, and leadership gene to guide the Miners' ship this year.

But replacing a majority of your rebounding and scoring from a year ago isn't easy as just putting new bodies into the mix and rolling the ball to center court.

Here are two and well I guess three major points the UTEP women must have to contend like usual a-top of the C-USA.

Point Guard Play

Stacie Telles, and freshman Lulu McKinney have some big shoes to fill after Kelli Willingham assumed the role of Keith Adams' quarterback the past few seasons.

Telles brings a legit three point threat, to go along with her smooth handles, though has to be able to take of the ball in key situations.  At times last year she was almost the left handed clone of Willingham, and I feel the El Pasoan could have a banner senior year.

Last season she was pretty consistent in having a good game-by-game assist to turnover ratio, there is no denying her play making ability, and ability to create offense for others, while still being able to draw her defender past the three point line.

In the exhibition, Telles tallied 8 assists, though had four turnovers, and was also very active on the boards.

True freshman Lulu McKinney brings so much to the table at point guard.

She is another offensive play maker who has a knack for creating offense with the dribble-drive, and also has some of the quickest hands on defense possibly in the conference, which says a lot about a true freshman guard.

Both will see time at the point along with possibly Cameasha Tuner.

The whole thing about point guard play for UTEP is these ladies won't necessarily be relied upon to score 20 points a game, though both have the ability to score at will in any game, particularly Telles from deep.

The most important part of the gig is being the one who not only gets UTEP into offense, but makes the attack efficient, and almost error free.

Another key is not wasting any possessions as possible, and use the Miners half court sets in which most last year were used to set up a big heading to or around the basket.

Rebounding, and Physicality

When Keitha Adams talks about the work to left to do from her current club, this is probably what she means.

Having to replace a walking double-double in Kayla Thornton, and a 6'4 center in Kristine Vitola who was also a double-double machine is UTEP's big issue preseason in terms of rebounding and interior defense.

Though the Miners have capable, unproven depth that will have to step up to plate.

True freshman Daeshianna McCants, JUCO transfers Ruidiane Eduardo, and Lawana Kennedy, along with returning 6'3 post Agata Dobrowolska will be relied upon for rebounding production, and paint security.

Eduardo pulled down 7 boards, and Dobrowolska piled up 6 boards in the exhibition, though St Mary's hauled in 14 total offensive rebounds in last week's exhibition in where UTEP's size advantage wasn't even close.

Despite allowing those second chances, UTEP displayed some physicality down low in limiting St. Mary's to only 5 second chance points, and 14 total points in the paint.

Last year UTEP had Vitola and Thornton as rebounding aces, and physical presences who literally shut down in the paint in stretches.

This year it will have to be a by committee approach with Keitha Adams playing with match ups against certain teams.  Expect to see Sparkle Taylor and Johni Wells also in the mix when it comes to rebounding, and physicality presence this year.

UTEP has the size and length to alter shots against quicker, and smaller teams, though a little physicality will help solidify the defensive identity Keitha Adams is looking for.

With so many new faces, its not really rebuilding if you ask me, but a true reloading job that we have seen before from Keitha Adams.

While there will be growing pains, there is no questioning the chemistry, and winning culture that is UTEP Women's basketball, and this group should give us another fun, competitive season of hoops in 2014-15.