#83 UTEP Men's Basketball 2014-2015 Preview

UTEP Miners

2014-2015 Overall Rank: #83
Conference Rank: #3 C-USA

UTEP Team Page#83 UTEP Men's Basketball 2014-2015 PreviewBuy UTEP Basketball Tickets

There were stretches when this looked like a very good UTEP team last year. They won eight games in a row from early January to early February and ended up with a 12-4 record in Conference USA. That was one game back of a four-way tie for first place. A loss to Southern Miss in the conference tournament sent UTEP to the CBI, where they lost in the first round to Fresno State, but this group returns a lot of talent and is ready to move up the postseason tournament pecking order a spot or two in 2014-2015.

2013-14 Record: 23-11, 12-4
2013-14 Postseason: CBI
Coach: Tim Floyd
Coach Record: 71-52 at Texas UTEP, 390-219 overall

Who’s Out:
McKenzie Moore, Justin Crosgile and Jalen Ragland were all off the team around midseason, so the Miners were playing pretty good basketball without those three. On the year none of them played more than 14 games. That makes the only significant loss John Bohannon. The 6-10 center averaged 11.9 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.7 blocks during his senior season. Bohannon was the best rebounder and shot blocker on this team, but fortunately UTEP has other big men who are capable of stepping up.

Who’s In:
Once again Coach Tim Floyd finds his recruiting class not quite as good as it could have been. There has already been a transfer and a non-qualifier. But regardless, Coach Floyd has a few newcomers coming in who will make an impact this year. With few options on the perimeter, this class is guard heavy. Incoming freshmen point guards Omega Harris and Trey Touchet will compete for minutes right away. Harris is one of the best prospects coming out of Oklahoma this year and should be the future leader of the squad. Wings Lew Stallworth and Earvin Morris will provide some much, much needed options. Morris spent a couple years at the junior college level and that experience gives him the early leg up to crack the starting lineup. Morris is a very good shooter and that is something this frontcourt heavy team was lacking in 2013-2014. The lone newcomer up front is power forward Terry Winn.

Who to Watch:
Due to the midseason departures, UTEP was forced to play big last season. That will not have to be the case with the four perimeter oriented newcomers, but that does not mean the Miners do not have the bodies to play big when they want to. Julian Washburn is a big 6-8 wing who really started to play like a wing last season. Two years ago he was not much of a threat to shoot, but last year he boosted his three-point shooting percentage to a team high 36.4 percent. Washburn led the squad with 13.1 points per game and now is extremely difficult to defend. He can shoot over smaller defenders and run right around bigger, slower defenders. On many teams he would be a stretch four, but on this team he even plays the shooting guard spot on occasion. Vince Hunter, Cedric Lang and Matt Willms are the more traditional big men. By the end of his freshman year, Hunter was the most productive big man on a roster full of talented big men. He ended up second on the team in scoring with 12.3 points per game and was also second with 6.5 rebounds. He has the potential to be an even better interior scorer with that year of experience under his belt. Lang is a tough rebounder and Willms, a 7-1 center, adds another shot blocking threat. Like Washburn, Jake Flaggert is a big wing who can shoot, while Hooper Vint is yet another big body who can eat up some minutes and space when needed.

Final Projection:
The CUSA championship title pretty much seems up for grabs with some quality teams, but no team is going to run away with it. Barring some surprises during non-conference play, this is likely a one-bid conference too. For UTEP to compete for that NCAA Tournament spot, they will need to develop their limited options on the perimeter. C.J. Cooper played well for being thrown into a major role after being a role player the year before. He is a decent enough shooter to keep the opposition honest and did a good job finding his teammates while keeping the turnovers to a minimum. The only other returning guard with any experience is Tevin Caldwell…and he played in just 4.7 minutes per game. The newcomers are going to be asked to do a lot in the backcourt and they do have potential. The worst case scenario is this team plays bigger more than they would prefer and look much like they did in 2013-2014. That is enough to get back to the postseason at least.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NIT

Projected Starting Five:
C.J. Cooper, Senior, Guard, 9.6 points per game
Earvin Morris, Junior, Guard, DNP last season
Julian Washburn, Senior, Forward, 13.1 points per game
Vince Hunter, Sophomore, Forward, 12.3 points per game
Matt Willms, Sophomore, Center, 5.4 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 69.0 (224th in nation, 10th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 63.3 (33, 2)
Field-Goal Percentage: 46.5 (55, 1)
Field-Goal Defense: 38.2 (6, 1)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 4.4 (331, 16)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 33.0 (NR)
Free-Throw Percentage: 68.4 (222, 4)
Rebound Margin: 1.6 (131, 7)
Assists Per Game: 13.5 (105, 5)
Turnovers Per Game: 13.3 (262, 12)

Madness 2014 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#129 Chris Sandifer


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