Phil Johnson was named UTEP’s interim men’s basketball coach on Tuesday morning, following the retirement of Tim Floyd.
“Larry Eustachy was the National Coach of the Year and worked for me,” Floyd said following Monday’s game versus Lamar. “I had another guy, John Brady, who was at LSU and was the National Coach of the Year. He worked for me. Randy Bennett has done the best job in the United States at Saint Mary’s University, a very, very difficult place. He worked for me. Kermit Davis worked for me. Phil Johnson is better than all of those guys.”
“Nobody has had more of an impact on my career than coach Floyd,” Johnson said. “And nobody has been a better friend in my career than coach Floyd. He is probably my closest friend in the world. I think the world of him.
Johnson has assisted Floyd on the bench at the University of New Orleans (1991-93), with the NBA’s Chicago Bulls (1999-02), at USC (2005-09) and at UTEP (2010-17). He was the head coach at San Jose State for four seasons (1998-99, 2002-05). Johnson has coached in nine NCAA Tournaments and two Final Fours and was a part of the Arizona Wildcats’ national championship run in 1997.
“I’m going to talk to the team today,” Johnson said. “I think we have some possibilities. I think we have talent in here. We have a losing record, but we don’t have any losers on our team. We have good coaches. We’ll all do this together. We’re going to figure out a way to get the most out of this team.”
The Miners will host long-time rivals NM State (Thursday, 8 p.m.) and New Mexico (Saturday, 7 p.m.) as they continue a nine-game homestand this weekend. Tickets are available by calling 747-5234.