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UTEP Basketball: A Few Thoughts From Corpus Christi Classic

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The Miners came away with a pair of solid wins over the weekend, but there's even more to take away from their performances.

Rebounding will be an issue

This isn't news, or even new, but Saturday's contest exposed this team's inability to rebound more than we could have ever imagined. Colorado State had two players have double digit rebounds by the half, and had one of those finish with 20 for the game. Mind you, that guy who got the 20 rebounds is only 6'8!

There has got to be a better all around effort from this team to rebound the basketball, and unfortunately, it may start with Tim Floyd going away from his "junk defenses", and especially away from the zone, in order to put this team in better position to come away with boards.

If we're going to get better rebounding the ball, it will have to happen with both our bigs, and our guards. As far as the the bigs go, Hooper Vint has turned in three straight stat lines that included 9 rebounds, and Terry Winn is just starting to come into his own, but it will take even more. That may be unfair to ask, but it is what is necessary.

Our guards will have to learn to crash the boards better as well. Perhaps some of the issues stem from playing four guard lineups, but when watching films, it seems too many times, especially on the defensive end, guards are streaking down the court following a shot, rather than putting a body on someone and grabbing the board.

Again, for this team to become a better rebounding squad, it will have to come from players 1-5, and on down the bench. We're not an extremely big team, and aren't very deep in the front court either, so we will likely be at a disadvantage for most of this season, but mitigating that disadvantage will be the key.

Foul trouble cannot become an issue

One of the strengths of this team is its depth, but its clear that it is also one of its weaknesses. Yes, there are bodies to come in and spell guys for a few minutes, and maybe even make a play or two, but its clear that this team will be led by its star guards and we need them on the court as much as possible.

In both the Southern Illinois game and the Colorado State game, Dominic Artis found himself with four fouls early on. In the latter, we wound up having three guys with four fouls well before the end of regulation. Especially with Artis, but of course with all, we cannot make this a habit.

Credit to Trey Touchet, who stepped in with some big minutes while Artis was on the bench, and did a great job taking care of the basketball, all while making a few plays, but Artis is our floor general and we need him out there. We can't afford to have him on the bench, or unable to play aggressive defensively.

I have no doubt that coach Floyd will get this straightened out. He's known to coach with his 'hands off' approach, and that's exactly what it will take for these guys to stay out on the floor, especially considering the emphasis the rules officials have put on calling fouls with minimal contact. We're lucky it didn't bite us in the Corpus Classic, but we can't expect to be so lucky in the future.

Winn, Touchet, Thomas Proving to be real factors

Its not that we should be surprised by the play of any of these guys, but it is refreshing to see them beginning to come into a rhythm in their young careers.

Terry Winn, who now has five games under his belt, just keeps getting better on a daily basis. His 15 point, 10 rebound effort against Southern Illinois no doubt was crucial to the Miners even having the opportunity to play CSU for the championship, and he's averaged 13 points and 6 rebounds over his last three games.

Trey Touchet, well the truth is we can't say enough about him. While his stat line may not jump off the page, he's been thrust into a point guard role, spelling Dominic Artis, and giving his team some big minutes while Artis has found himself in foul trouble. Once thought to be a set shooter, Touchet has shown his ability to take care of the basketball, having 7 assists to just 1 turnover on the season. Oh, and he also had 4 points, and 3 huge rebounds in just 10 minutes of action against CSU.

Perhaps, just days ago, people felt that it would be Brodricks Jones who would be the one to step forward as the four star freshman forward more ready to play at the division 1 level. Maybe, that's true. Maybe its not. But, what is true, is that with Jones' injury, its been Paul Thomas who has stepped up and proven that he certainly capable of producing at this level, immediately. He came up with 8 huge boards in the championship game, and also has 7 and 6 rebound efforts on the season. For this team to be successful, it will take many more of those!

Whatever 'it' is, this team has it!

Heart, resilience, pride, will power, talent, mental toughness, and the list goes on. Flashback to about 4:30 p.m. MT Saturday, and the Miners are down 47-30 heading to the half. They had been spanked on the glass 36-14, and frankly were being shot out of the gym.

It would've been easy to fold. It would've been easy to just pack it in, and say it just wasn't our day. But, whatever was said to the team at half, they responded. They came out strong to start the second half, stuck to what was working for them in attacking the rim, and slowly chipped away at the deficit, coming all the way back to tie it, send it into double overtime, and finish it off.

Even when Colorado State extended the lead back to double digits, and even with some key players in foul trouble, they continued to fight. There's no other way to explain it. It wasn't the prettiest of efforts, and there's still plenty to build on, but this team fought, fought hard, and they found themselves.

This is the type of win that for whatever reasons has eluded Tim Floyd's teams since he's been here. Maybe he just has the talent now. Maybe they've just got that fight. Whatever it is, they've got it, and it makes the prospects of this season even that much more intriguing moving forward.

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