In the past four weeks, the UTEP basketball team has been in the basement of the Foster-Stevens Center going through the October grind that is official college basketball practice.
And for the first time in the 2015-16 season, Tim Floyd's gang of wide eyed, and eager mix of youth and a pair of veteran returners get to bang against another team instead of themselves on Saturday afternoon.
UTEP will host D-2 Cameron in an exhibition game at 2:00 p.m. Mountain Time in the Don Haskins Center.
The Miners had their first public outing in the Orange and White scrimmage last Saturday in which guard play was the highlight, but weaknesses will now be tested against opponents.
Led by Lee Moore and Dominic Artis, the Orange team put on an offensive clinic in a 102-70 beat down over the White team.
What we didn't get to see was the trio of Moore, Artis, and senior guard Earvin Morris which has the potential to be a pretty athletic and offensive lineup to watch this season.
UTEP's freshman class was also on display, and while there were no clear standouts or big time performances. Saturday's exhibition will allow those future studs a chance to make a name for themselves in the very early portion of the season.
Guys like Brodericks Jones, Paul Thomas, Trey Touchet, and Terry Winn will get their most extensive action in their early UTEP careers. Rebounding, executing principles in man-to-man defense and making shots are things all four need to have happen in the pre-season race for in-season minutes.
Cameron returns three of their top four scorers from last season's 13-15 record.
6'4 guard Deondre Ray averaged 14 points per game, and 30.4 minutes per game last season.
Ray, a former JUCO transfer, was second on the team in three pointers made last season, and looks to have a big senior year alongside a pair of fellow seniors.
Cameron Lee is a 6'3 guard who was another productive guard for the Aggies a year ago; along with 6'6 forward Jamal Brently.
Lee averaged 10 points per contest last season, and was second on the team in three point field goal percentage, and led the team with 64 makes from behind the three point line.
Brantley is Cameron's returning leading rebounder from last year, as he also shot 52.6 percent from the field.
Ray and Lee both had over 100 attempts from three point land last year, and the Aggies shot a very respectable 48.7 percent from the field as a team.
Cameron has four players that are 6'8 or 6'9, and seven players who stand between 6'4 and 6'6 giving UTEP a nice challenge with size, and athletic ability to open the exhibition slate.
What to watch for
UTEP's lineup combos
We all know CTF is going mix and match his lineups early in the season and try to find a niche in one of them.
The most intriguing lineup is Artis (PG), Moore (SG), Morris (G/F), Winn (F), and Hooper Vint (C), as this seems the most likely starting lineup in the early portion of the season.
Other things to watch when it comes to lineups is how often or will we see the much talked about four guard lineup.
Which big's play well together?
And which lineup is the most defensive?
How good are these guards?
As we all saw, UTEP has some pretty good guards who can be difference makers this season. Now we get to see how they will produce in certain lineups all together against a respectable team when it comes to size.
It's one thing to look pretty good against the guys you have been going up against everyday.
But can the chemistry, and a fluid offensive performance with minimal turnovers show up against what should be a lesser opponent?
Who ends up being the leading rebounder?
From watching the scrimmage, you can get a sense of who will be scoring consistently this season.
But the million dollar question is rebounding.
Cameron lost three of their four top rebounders from last season, so if you're the Miners you would think you would/should be able to create some major separation in the rebounding margin.
Will it be Hooper Vint? Can Terry Winn do what the coaches feel he is capable of?
Or will we come out of this game thinking a guard is one of UTEP's better rebounders?
Three to watch
13 assists with only two turnovers was the most impressive stat line from Saturday's scrimmage. Now that Artis will have the full UTEP cavalry of weapons on his side. How much better can Artis make every one of his teammates that is on the floor with him?
Man among boys, smooth, can get anything he wants on the floor, were things fans said about Lee Moore's debut in the scrimmage. In most cases it may take a few games to etch yourself as your teams best player or scoring option. How quickly will it take for Lee Moore to officially earn that label against competition?
Lee seems like an explosive player who can cause problems with his three point shot. Cameron was turnover prone last season, so it will interesting to see if a guy like Lee is pressured by UTEP's length in the back court, and who draws Lee when UTEP is on defense.
A-Rod's opening line