Conference U-S-Hey: UTEP Miners

3 of 5

Feb 22, 2014; Hattiesburg, MS, USA; UTEP Miners head coach Tim Floyd talks to his players in the second half against the Southern Miss Golden Eagles at Reed Green Coliseum. Southern Miss won, 77-68. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports


Now, basketball is UTEP’s and El Paso’s favorite past time. 17 NCAA Tournament appearances, four Sweet Sixteen’s, and a Disney Movie are the highlights of the past. Fast forward to 2014, and things are looking almost like the 80’s again. UTEP returns eight players who contributed significantly to a 23-win season and CBI bow out, including four starters from last season. Tim Floyd also brought in the best recruiting class in the conference, with a guard heavy influx of versatile and proven prep level guards. Senior Julian Washburn and sophomore Vince Hunter will be names to watch, along with incoming freshman Omega Harris, Marqywell Jackson, and Trey Touchet will provide some scoring for the defensive minded Miners. Washburn is one the most under-rated defenders in the country, and a true weapon of that side of the ball. UTEP hoops are the biggest and best ticket in town, and I would expect UTEP to again be on top of the C-USA when it comes to attendance, and possibly record wise this season as well. This is year five of the Tim Floyd era, and majority of the fan base has a NCAA Tourney or bust mentality for the upcoming season.

Women’s hoops are also evolving into the major sport at UTEP.  After their deep WNIT run, and a loss in the championship game to Rutgers, the program has tons of momentum heading into this season, plus the talent still remains. UTEP will have a young, but talented roster in 2014-15, adding in another solid recruiting class, and the Miners will again be a force in the conference. Players to watch are sophomore Sparkle Taylor, and junior Jenzel Nash, both are scoring guards who have their roles increased this season.