clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Miner Rush Roundtable: UTEP Hoops, NIT Talk

New, 4 comments

We gather at the table of Rush to talk UTEP Hoops, and the NIT.

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

How surprising was the NIT bid to you considering the ending results resume?

asalom

The NIT bid was a surprise to an extent. Coming into the day it felt like we had a chance, but we were squarely "on the bubble" because of the bad losses we suffered, as well as the way the season ended. Watching things unfold with the NCAA tournament made it seem as if we had even less of a chance to make the field, but that feeling changed once La Tech was announced as a 3 seed. It showed that they had some respect for the strength of the league, and that played in the favor of the Miners. Had the Bulldogs been seen as a lower seed, I think that would've pushed UTEP out of the field.

El Javi

Before the show started I was convinced our season was over. Seeing Old Dominion and La Tech pick up #1 and #3 seeds I felt more comfortable about receiving an invitation.  Listening to the after show I comprehended UTEP was always in the NIT and we probably played ourselves out of a home game by some of our bad losses. If all three teams can make a run in the tournament it will help us next year get that second bid in the field of 64 we deserve.

PayDirtRenzo

Not shocked, although after half the teams were announced I was feeling nervous. I though we had about a 50/50 shot to get in. I believe C-USA has an opportunity to earn some respect in the NIT. I don't give UAB much of a chance against Iowa State in the Big Tourney, but Old Dominion playing at home the whole way and La Tech starting at home against a beatable MAC team sets us up nicely. I'm hoping for 3 out of 16 C-USA teams in the second round.

Alex Nicolas

Once I heard the announcement I was definitely surprised, I really thought we were done.  But when you look into the Miners' strength of schedule and who they played OOC, it plays right into what the NCAA Tournament is looking for, and is a no-brainer when it comes to NIT selection.   While the body of work or resume---if you will---wasn't impressive, UTEP played some folks and because of that were rightfully rewarded.

What will a win against a tough Murray State squad say about where the program growth is at under Floyd?

PayDirtRenzo

Not satisfied. I believe when Floyd was hired we were all stoked about his background not just as an assistant under Haskins but because of his pedigree. Things just haven't gone our way. Of Floyd's 5 years, I would say we had a legit Tourney team in 2 of those 5. Year 1 had all the players there, they just had to figure out how to play under a new coach and we almost (should've) gotten there. Last year had Tourney potential at the start of the year, but the gambling fiasco put the nail in that coffin realistically. It was a nice run Floyd put together to get last year's team competing with only 1 guard and I think we were all feeling good but that team was doomed without McKenzie Moore, in my opinion. This year was especially disappointing because in year 5 these are all Floyd's guys. A win against a tough Murray State team does not wipe away the disappointment, but rather it would just point out once again the quality this team was capable of all year.

asalom

I still feel very disappointed in the job that Tim Floyd has done here. Its been a roller coaster ride in his tenure, and frankly it seems like there have been far more valleys than peaks. It just seems like his teams underachieve, and none have played up to their ability. We've had far too much talent, namely in this year and his first, to not see better results. That said, a win against Murray State would earn a ton of my respect back. I think the odds are stacked against us in this one, and it will take a great performance to pick up the win. It won't automatically make me feel happy about where we're at, but it will give me some confidence that he's got the ability to take us where we want to go.

Alex Nicolas

It would say wonders.  This could be one of the biggest wins in quite a while around here, add in the fact that the whole nation turned into Murray State fans on Selection Sunday to me means a win and UTEP could be on the nations radar for a night, or during a deep NIT run.  After all the....well let's just say transgressions under CTF this could show something is being built in year five, its nice to have back-to-back 20 win seasons, but postseason wins will make everyone feel more vindicated in having Floyd at the helm.

El Javi

Win or lose at Murray State we are still not satisfied with the current growth of the basketball team under Floyd. It is a start though since he has yet to win a post season game at UTEP. I look at how UAB who even though they were picked to finish in the bottom half of the league they took advantage of the home court in the C-USA Tournament and made the big Dance. It's depressing that both times we hosted as one of the favorites and for whatever reason or excuse it has been 10 years since we last won a conference tournament.

What is your main key for a UTEP win?

El Javi

The key to victory will be for the seniors to go out and play without fear. Take the open shot and don't get discouraged if it doesn't fall in at first. Our size should help us win the rebound battle and give us extra attempts. Neither team has much time to prepare for each other so the overall mental state will have a huge impact in the game. Being snubbed out of the Tournament can be deflating for a team we will find out if they're affected by it in the first few minutes.

Alex Nicolas

Guard play.  Murray State's guard production is pretty much a given, the Miners have to match it, or have a few guys go off.  When guard play is at its best, C.J. Cooper is making threes, driving the lane and facilitating.  Thus Earvin Morris gets the shots he likes, and Julian Washburn gets added confidence once a couple of shots go down.  I like the grit Omega Harris played with during the C-USA Tournament, and it could have been a turning point in his young career.   If our guard play is non-existent, simply put UTEP doesn't stand a chance bros.

PayDirtRenzo

My main key for a UTEP win Tuesday night is mindset. I think predicting the NIT is a crapshoot because most of the teams are really disappointed they didn't make the big dance and so much depends on a team's focus. If UTEP looks at this as an opportunity and is excited and positive to play another game, then I don't see Murray State beating us. If both teams play their best game, UTEP should win because we just have the bigger, stronger, and more athletic team. I do not think Murray State will find it as easy to score on our team. However, if they do get points on the board early and often, I could totally seeing things unravel for us.

asalom

I think there are three keys to this game: control the tempo, rebound, and stay out of foul trouble. If I'm forced to choose one though, it would have to be to control the tempo. Murray State is a team that loves to run and score points, and frankly I'm not sure the Miners will be able to outscore them, on their home court in a game in the 80s or 90s. The experimental rules that will be in place, with the shortened shot clock, will not play in the Miners' favor, but they'll have to find a way to enforce their will, and control the pace, keeping it in the 60s to 70s.

Does an NIT appearance salvage what most of us though was a underachieving season, or a run or at least a win make things better?

Alex Nicolas

To a point, but I still feel there are too many disappointments where one win or an NIT appearance wipes it all away for me.  IMO, getting at least to the quarterfinals clears up the dark clouds formed by bad losses to Marshall, and Southern Miss.  But you just never know what you're going get from this team, just hoping for an effort full of heart and grit, which could also salvage some positivity for some fans.

asalom

An NIT appearance on its own in no way makeups for the letdowns of this season. This team, while yes has had its issues, has far too much talent to be on the bubble for the NIT. This is a team that from day one had its eyes on the NCAA tournament. What makes it worse, is that it wasn't far out of reach. Pick up one or two big wins (Colorado State, Washington, La Tech, Arizona, etc.) and just take care of business against the lesser teams (NMSU, Marshall, So Miss), and this team is easily in the NCAA tournament, and likely has a conference championship as well. Simply making the NIT doesn't just erase all of that. However, make a run, I'd say two wins, and it will make most Miners fans feel much better about the prospects of next season, and the direction this staff has the program headed in.

El Javi

We need more than just one win. A trip to Madison Square Garden would salvage this season and Floyd's career at UTEP. We will have to be road warriors to make it to New York but to our favor the bracket is filled with familiar arenas if we can get past Murray St. (Tulsa, Old Dominion, Colorado State) This was supposed to be our special season and even though it hasn't turned out how we wanted to we are given one last opportunity to prove how good this team is. No UTEP team has ever won more than one game in the NIT, a nice little run to the final four would cement this team's season in the UTEP history books.

PayDirtRenzo

To some extent the season ended when we blew the game to Middle Tennessee with or without the NIT bid. When Floyd and the players talked only about a championship and making the big one and even about possibly going undefeated, it's hard to think otherwise when it doesn't happen. I'm looking at this a little differently. I think 2015 season is over and done with and this NIT Tourney is really just the beginning of 2016 (with a last look at Ced, Julian, and CJ of course). I want the seniors to play well but I REALLY want the guys coming back to play loose and really take some confidence with them into the offseason. Maybe the NIT will be a good thing for them since it seems like they'll be playing with much less pressure on them? Who knows. The NIT can't salvage 2015, but it can really get 2016 off to a nice head start.