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Beyond the Boxscore: Happy Off-Season

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Random ramblings as the off-season is officially here. Sigh.

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

There was just way too much to digest after last night's........(enter your own description here).

Murray State ripped through UTEP on National TV, and then this happened.

But where do we go now?

Here is my first day of the off-season thoughts.

Inconsistent guard play will not get it done

It's not the lack of players/talent, maybe to a point with the recent roster losses/mishaps, and yes C.J. Cooper might not have been the point guard we needed, but the guy proved he is a Division One baller, and played hard the past two seasons. 

The inconsistencies with UTEP's guard play were fully exposed against WKU and should have been a GIANT warning sign that things would end the way it did, especially against elite opposing guards.

Earvin Morris and Omega Harris starting in the back court next year really fires me up.

Both proved this year they can put up big scoring numbers, but how consistent they can be is the bigger question, and in my opinion the main thing they will put in their off-season workouts will be consistency in their offensive skill sets. 

They will be heavily relied upon for scoring and energy, and I also think they will become leaders of this team next year.

Trey Touchet, Jake Flaggert, and Tevin Caldwell all got to see good and bad guard play this past season which should help the mental aspect of do's and don'ts as these guys will now figure into the guard rotation going forward.

The talent was there, depth no so much, but chemistry leads to consistency, and chemistry was non-existent as well.

As PayDirtRenzo said in a thread last night, "guard play wins out in March", or something like that, but the gist of it is true, if the Miners don't upgrade their backcourt, we'll be stuck in third gear for another season.

Vince Hunter will mature, and be a first round pick next year

He has the raw skills to dominate, and drop a jaw or two, been doing it since he was a freshman.   Now he has some HUGE motivation to improve his game over the summer.

Hunter is an athlete committed to improving his craft who showed improvement during camp before the season, but the maturity of decision making and court awareness come game time will be important for Vince to work on over the summer.

I think with the court awareness and maturity growth, his perimeter game will follow suit.

According to some he has a bigger decision to make. 

Get off the guy (media types) and let him enjoy some time off before he gets back to work.

Thank you seniors

In the revolving door act that is becoming a part of college basketball and particularly under CTF, kudos to these guys in being consistent pillars of the program the past four years.

All three will leave as UTEP greats, ranking among the legends before them in various statistical categories, and most importantly they all will graduate.

The fact they stuck it out through the numerous transgressions and other defections, worked hard, embraced fans, and never were off-court distractions is what we should be giving them a standing ovation for along with their play.

Especially a kid like Julian Washburn who has been through a lot in his personal life over the past couple of years, it shows big time character which all three brought to the program on a daily basis.

Thanks guys.

Willms and Vint have work to do

They showed glimpses of dominance at times, but our two main big men for next year have a critical off-season ahead of them.

For Willms, confidence and an everyday balls to wall weight room session is a must. 

Willms has the skills to become a double figure averaging scorer, but lacked the confidence for that to hold true this past season.  He had a very good stretch before his unfortunate injury, but his growth this off-season is important for his final two years at UTEP, and important for the success of the program.

Vint is going to see very heavy minutes next season, and his off-season work maybe the most important of all the returners.

Starting with his hands and footwork, Vint will see a lot of touches, and rebounding opportunities next year and this improvement will be a must if UTEP wants any chance in being a decent rebounding team or have any sort of legit post presence.

He too had some good stretches, but like Willms, building extreme confidence via a good off-season of hard work could do wonders for both.

Could a guy like Terry Winn push both, and be a good practice partner to improve?

On that note, watch for Winn to be a force next year.

Omega Harris is a future star

Harris is faster than fast; he has handles, and showed his jumper is something to be excited about going forward.

But what stood out to me more in his first three postseason games was the huge step in his maturity growth that he showed in those important games.

Instead of looking to poster a defender on drives to the rack, Harris now looks for contact with a layup.  Still needs plenty of fine tuning work, but I feel Harris will be asked to create more, and you always look for major parts of improvement for freshman, but it's the little things that stood out to me as far as his improvement throughout the course of the season.

On the defensive end, it looks like the tenacity from Julian Washburn rubbed off on O, and he will become one of our better perimeter defenders in the next two seasons.

He plays fast, but is learning how to control it in a mature way on both ends of the floor, which tells me sky is the limit for our future point guard. 

It's a day after the off-season, but I'm going on an early limb and will say Omega averages no less than 12 points and four assists next season. #BetThat

What's next X's and O's wise?

The Miners became far too predictable on offense down the stretch of the season.

No wrinkles, no adjustments, and no off the wall experiments allowed good defensive teams like Middle Tennessee to dig in and hold you to 50 points in an important game.

Next year's team will have a totally different make up of guards, wings, and big's.

What does CTF & Co. do with it?  Who emerges?

Recruiting

The fact that Lew Stallworth is no longer on the official UTEP roster leaves one to think he is done. 

This means UTEP needs another point guard, but one that can contribute next year.

Paul Thomas is a lock, as is Christian Romine, and despite only playing three games this season at his JUCO, sources say Lee Moore is still on track to make it to UTEP over the summer.

As I first mentioned, UTEP needs guard production, and ASAP.

Tyson Jolly, Ke'Jhan Feagin, and the newly committed Josh McSwiggan are all on my wish list.  The Miners need a minimum of three players who can provide an immediate impact next season to have a chance at even sniffing a.500 record.

Truth is, the Miners are involved in talks with over twenty 2015 prospects, so like pretty much everything I mentioned pertaining to next year's roster, the finishing touches on the class of 2015 are critical points of emphasis in the next month or two.

Things to ponder over the next 228 days till the start of November.