Is there hope for UTEP men’s basketball?

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Daniel Lopez

In the beginning of 2021fans were rejoiced by the hiring of head coach Joe Golding, former head coach of Abilene Christian University. There was excitement throughout the town and the sense that the Miners were on their way back to winning season’s just like in the past. 

But that has not been the case so far as the Miners are midway through their 2021-2022 season. UTEP is currently 8-8 in non-conference games and 1-3 in conference play.  

In their  first matchup the Miners  were able to pull off an 85-57 victory against Western New Mexico University. The team looked to have fundamentally improved at first glance, with the offense clicking, and getting whatever shot they wanted, whether it was inside the paint or from the 3-point line. The defense also played well by forcing turnovers and getting steals. 

Then came adversity  when the Miners traveled to take on a tough opponent that was New Mexico State University (NMSU). NMSU took control of the game early  and rattled the Miners. UTEP couldn’t find their offense for the majority of the first half and struggled defensively. But UTEP only trailed 30-35 at the end of the first half. 

At the start of the second half, NMSU increased their lead 32-41 three minutes into the second half. The Miners again would struggle on offense and defense, and would go on to lose this contest 77-71. 

When continuing their non-conference play, the Miners would have up-and-down results. 

UTEP  pulled off two straight wins after their loss at the Pan American Center. Those two wins came against the University Of the Pacific and Northern New Mexico College. The Miners  participated in the Cerebro Sports Turkey Classic Tournament and the West Star Bank Tournament. The Miners were able to win one game in both tournaments, but they would go on to lose in the second round of both tournaments.

The Miners lost to the University of Kansas and NMSU. UTEP losing to the Jayhawks would be the largest loss this season so far with a final score of 52-78. Then they lost 69-72 to NMSU in heartbreaking fashion. 

In conference play the Miners have continued to struggled. They currently have losses to the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Louisiana Tech University, and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.  

The only win the Miners have so far in conference play is against the University of Southern Mississippi.  

The Miners tend to struggle on the offense, whether it’s struggling to shoot consistently from the 3-point line or just finishing a lay-up at the rim. There seems to be an issue just scoring overall with this unit. 

Defensively, the Miners are able to pick up the slack when the offense struggles. The Miners defensive play is aggressive, denying the lane pass, taking a charge, or getting a steal and pushing it in transition for a bucket. But when the team looks overmatched, they are not able to play defense as well and at times let the game get away from them and have to play from behind. 

The struggles are due to a new offensive system that is being put in place, and players having to adapt to  new habits.Coach Golding is trying to get them to learn in practice that playing hard and fighting for extra possessions will help them succeed on the court.  

Overall, I believe this will be a year the Miners struggle a lot.  In the long run, they will learn from their struggles and become a better team, whether it be this season or in due time.  

Daniel Lopez is a staff reporter and can be reached at [email protected]