UTEP Men’s Basketball practice begins for 2021-2022 season

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Alberto Silva Fernandez

Kezza Giffa dribbles down the court during practice on October 7, 2021.

Danny Lopez, Staff Reporter

The Miner’s began their first week of practice on Sept. 27 and have been hard at work for the past two weeks getting ready for the upcoming 2021-2022 season. 

UTEP’s season begins in November with the guidance of a new head coach, Joe Golding from Abilene Christian University. Coach Golding joins the Miners with a strong resume that should have UTEP fans excited. 

UTEP has really been turning up the volume in practice in terms of intensity and hustle. 

“I think we are getting better; I think we’re stacking some days, obviously the first days are a lot of excitement, but I’m proud of where we are at,” said Coach Golding in an Oct. 1 after-practice interview. 

Coach Golding has made two NCCA tournaments, with his recent big win from a match against the Longhorns. Coach Golding also won his conference twice in his time at ACU. 

His teams are usually built from suffocating defense and discipline, something the Miners have struggled with in recent years. 

Coach Golding has also brought in a new staff with the main two being Coach Earl Boykins and Coach Jeremy Cox, who he hopes will help him achieve his vison for this team whether it is through recruiting, helping set up the defense, or installing plays on offense. 

UTEP has yet to make the NCAA tournament since former coach Tony Barbee led them to round of 64 versus the University of Butler. They have had some success when reaching the conference tournament but come up short each time. 

This upcoming season, the Miners have a chance to turn it around after years of struggling. 

Last season, the Miners finished 12-12, but because of the temporary qualification regardless of record, teams were able to qualify for the C-USA tournament. However, the Miners fell short in the first round to Florida Atlantic University.   

Before getting into the tournament, the Miners were an up and down team with no real consistency and made a lot of mistakes. They were able to keep footing with some good teams, but because they played twice, the Miners could not get the sweep. 

Coach Golding looks to fix past mistakes, as his unit back at ACU was very stout defensively and disciplined on both sides which should help them in big situations. 

UTEP returns four out of the five starters for the 2021-2022 season with senior transfer Bryson Williams not electing to play in his final year of eligibility at UTEP.  

The Miners did add some depth to the team as they grabbed transfer forward Jamari Sibley from Georgetown University. Sibley would make an immediate impact from a depth standpoint, but the team still needs more shooting from the outside and another starting big-man to fill Williams’ shoes. 

UTEP, however, returns two key guards in junior guard Jamal Bienemy and last season’s leading scorer senior guard Souley Boum. 

Boum is coming off a strong season, grabbing 18.8 points per game and 3.7 rebounds with the Miners, continuing to improve his game. 

“I say I made improvements everywhere in my game, just trying to get stronger, my shot, my ball handling, all areas of my game,” said Boum during a Sept. 26 practice interview. 

Bienemy is also coming off a solid season as well, grabbing 8.6 points per game and 3.5 rebounds. 

Bieniemy stated during a September practice interview that his conditioning is what he has sought to improve most in hopes of scoring more often. 

UTEP’s schedule isn’t the friendliest either, with the Miners once again having to travel to Kansas to face the University of Kansas Jayhawks. The Miners open conference play begins Dec. 30 at home against the University of Alabama at Birmingham. 

This year, the Miners will also play in the West Star Bank tournament as the tournament was cancelled due to COVID-19. 

Conference play begins January against the University of Alabama at Birmingham. 

UTEP is looking to improve upon last season’s record and to go deeper into the Conference-USA tournament rather than being knocked out early. However, they have their work cut out for them, still needing a player to fill Williams’ starting spot. 

Danny Lopez may be reached [email protected]