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UTEP Basketball: Three Things We Learned

UTEP continues to mold itself into a contender, but next weekend will decide the true fate.

Jesus Rosales

The current six game win streak has certainly been fun to watch but the real test comes next week with the East Coast swing against Old Dominion and Charlotte.

"Now we got to figure out how to get on the road and go and win again." Tim Floyd said.  "I don't know if its going to be quite as easy with a Charlotte team that has been explosive, then Old Dominion. This trip well tell us something else about our team."

UTEP's offense has been superb, Lee Moore looks like an All C-USA candidate, but according to Tim Floyd, the true development is the attention to detail, listening, and the fact that his team has grown to be teachable which has really molded this group into its potential.

"They seem to really be into listening right now to Phil Johnson." Floyd said.  "They're really paying attention to what's happening. I'm really proud of them because when you lose sometimes you can point fingers and look the other way.  Our attitudes are very good right now, and everybody feels good about themselves, so its a good place right now."

For the second time as a UTEP assistant, Phil Johnson has been the offensive coordinator in adjusting to UTEP's lack of personnel.

This time around its spacing, ball movement, and trusting the player's on the court instincts that has transformed this UTEP club into an offensive juggernaut over their last six games.

"Phil Johnson has just really added a lot to how we're playing here late."  Floyd said.  "We're playing very unselfishly on the offensive end which we love."

Two years ago, Johnson implemented a three-man-in offensive scheme catering to UTEP's lack of guards, this time its a four-out motion offense that has sparked UTEP's guard heavy rotation.

The small lineup has worked in terms of spacing and scoring, but more importantly roles are starting to be recognized and filled, but the true make up of this team will be figured out next weekend.

"It will carry over." Lee Moore said about the upcoming road trip.  "We've been working hard in practice so we look to do the same things we've been doing in practice in the game"

The Lee Moore Factor

He took on four defenders in a single transition sequence, he knocked down a game sealing 3-pointer from where the Pope blessed the border, and dished out nine assists yesterday.

Getting to the point: The Lee Moore factor is full circle legit.

The quiet assistant had a +/- 17, and a Player Efficiency Rating of 33 against LA Tech, which matched the highest PER of any Miner in a single game all season.

"Lee Moore had a terrific offensive game, and I'm not talking about the shots he made." Floyd said. "Lee had nine assists and one turnover, terrific line."

He's a proven winner, and was the ultimate team guy at the JUCO level, and is bringing those winning traits with his strong play, and developing leadership.

"I had a good game I was feeling it early." Moore said.  "I just wanted to help my team win, just to do anything to get them in a good position.  I just decided to be aggressive."

Being efficiently aggressive could lead to a C-USA Player of the Week honor after he averaged 21.5 points, and was 7-of-14 from three point range, and handed out 13 total assists over the weekend.

Once UTEP went exclusively to the four guard lineup it has really seemed to spark Moore who takes major advantage of the spacing with his dribble drive, spot up 3-point shot, and his teammates movement off the ball.

"With the four guards what were doing is Coach Johnson's point of just getting the five best players out here."  Floyd said. "What it's done with these four guards is we've really been able to space the floor, and the spacing is tough for teams to guard."

"It was just learning early in the season." Moore said.  "We just had to buy into the system, we learned it, and now we're flowing good."

Winn for the Win

Not only does Terry Winn continue to do a number of needed things during this win streak.  He's also found his touch on the block with a 7-of-7 from the floor outing, was very active on the boards, and he also was tough as hell in protecting the rim against an athletic LA Tech team.

"Terry Winn on the boards against a bigger team did a great job." Floyd said.  "He's shown marked improvement for our team. Since we're playing small he's had to do a multitude of things in terms of fronting the post, and going back and defensive rebounding it."

Winn didn't miss a single field goal attempt over the weekend, going 12-for-12 in two games.

"Terry's been very unselfish on the inside."  Floyd said.  "He's kicking it back out which he really wasn't doing early in the year, and he's finding that he's scoring more points because its coming back around to him off of dump offs."

Added production, and the chip on the shoulder play by Winn brings a gritty aspect in UTEP's smaller and quicker lineups.

He attributes his strong stretch to going back to the first matchup against LA Tech in where he found his niche in UTEP's four guard attack.  Having a family contingent of about 13 in Ruston he said also helped spark his game.

He's been overrated and over looked his entire basketball career he said, but a talk with his dad after the first LA Tech game seemed to put him over the production edge this UTEP teams certainly needs in the front court.

It's also shown the potential he could bring not only for the rest of the season, but for three more years in a Miner uniform.

Like Floyd correctly stated after Saturday's win, "We're not over the hump yet", but Winn's play on Saturday pushed UTEP over a small hump in finally handling LA Tech, and keeping this late season charge alive.