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UTEP basketball is back

Gaby Velasquez

The Don Haskins Center has officially been reawakened– all the nail biting games, buzzer beaters, game-saving stops, and posterizing dunks are back. UTEP’s men’s basketball team, for the first time this year, hit the hardwood eyeing the court they will defend all year long.


Opening up the 2016-2017 season, the Miners are picked to finish sixth in Conference USA in the latest preseason coaches poll. Head coach of the Miners, Tim Floyd, is hopeful his young basketball team can compete with the top teams in Conference play.


“You just hope that they’re (preseason polls) not right, and on the other hand, you hope that they are right to have your team in that group,” Floyd said. “I do know we have some key players returning.”


The Miners’ biggest strength will come from their backcourt, led by senior point guard Dominic Artis and junior shooting guard Omega Harris starting at the shooting guard position. The two guards will run the show for Floyd this season, but will also have to mentor the five freshman guards for the future of the program.


UTEP basketball lost the bulk of their scoring, when their top two scorers from last season departed from the program. Lee Moore made his decision to pursue his professional basketball career in Italy, he averaged 15.4 ppg, leading the scoring charge last year. Earvin Morris Jr. decided to leave UTEP weeks before the upcoming year, he averaged 13.4 ppg last season.


This left the Miners searching for young talent to cover their crucial losses, but a lot of hope for the new players to take on the reins of El Paso’s basketball team.


Eager to figure out his team’s new talent, Floyd opened up on his new recruits—anticipating the sun city fans to witness their freshman go to work.


“We’re hopeful that we’ve added some key players to this team that can really help us.” Floyd continued. “I know these kids are really excited to be here, excited to be playing, and we’re excited to be working with them.”


Dominic Artis, the only senior on the roster, will have all eyes on him.


“Just being the point guard, I’m going to have to be the leader,” Artis said. “I know what coach wants and I’m trying to implement that for the younger guys.”


Artis has high expectations for the team this season and will do everything in his last year of eligibility to produce a winning team for the city.


“I believe we can make it to the Elite Eight. We have the team chemistry down, we have the size, the talent at each position, and a hall of fame coach in my eyes.”


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Gaby Velasquez, Photo editor
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UTEP basketball is back