#42 UTEP Miners: 2010-11 Basketball Preview
Overall Rank: #42
Conference Rank: #2 Conference USA
2009-10: 26-7, 15-1
2009-10 postseason: NCAA
Coach: Tim Floyd (First year at UTEP, 327-181 overall)
After one of the most successful season in UTEP history, Coach Tony Barbee split for the SEC. Coach Tim Floyd was an interesting choice to take over the Miners, but this is a team that needs to build off of their recent success and that is something Coach Floyd can do. He is also a former UTEP assistant and knows what he can do with the program.
Key Losses: F Derrick Caracter, F Arnett Moultrie, G Myron Strong
The unexpected departures of Derrick Caracter and Arnett Moultrie will leave a gaping hole in the frontcourt and newcomers Michael Haynes and John Bohannon will have to help out right away. Haynes is a little undersized at 6-6, but he is a superb rebounder and that alone makes him a solid option off the bench at the four spot. Bohannon, at 6-10 and 200 pounds, has more size, but he needs to add strength quickly if he is going to battle in the paint against some tough C-USA opponents. The backcourt adds Michael Perez and Deshun Watkins. Perez could find a spot in the regular rotation if he can beat out some returning players for minutes.
The backcourt is in great shape again this season. Randy Culpepper is a superstar who averaged 17.9 points per game last season. There is nothing the 6-0 senior cannot do on the offensive end. Culpepper is a fine outside shooter and one of the most explosive athletes attacking the basket in the nation. Christian Polk started 15 games last season and has turned into a dynamic scorer in his own right. After tallying 9.4 points per game during his junior campaign, Polk is ready for an even better senior season. Julyan Stone is a very interesting player. At 6-6, he does not look like a point guard, but he is a great ballhandler and distributor. On top of his 5.5 assists per contest, Stone averaged 6.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.6 steals during his junior campaign. Isaac Gordon may not be the best sixth man around, but he is an experienced player and a solid shooter who can fill in at multiple positions.
Obviously the key to this team will be the play of the frontcourt. When Caracter was eligible for the second semester last year, he really opened up the offense for everybody else. Now the pressure is on part-time starter Jeremy Williams. The 6-7, 215 pound senior averaged 10.0 points and 4.7 rebounds last season and should be able to increase those numbers now that he will be asked to do a lot more for the frontcourt. Williams can handle taking over some of the scoring and rebounding left behind by Caracter and Arnett Moutlrie, but those two did a lot of scoring and rebounding. Even if Williams can improve his overall game, this team still needs to find a center and some decent frontcourt depth.
Who to Watch:
Two options to play the center position are Claude Britten and Wayne Portalatin. Britten has been a decent roleplayer and certainly has the size to make an impact, but he has never been able to contribute consistently for long periods of time. Portalatin is another big senior, but like Britten he has never seen too much playing time. Britten is the more likely candidate to play more minutes this season, but he will likely just keep the five spot warm while waiting for the newcomers to eventually take over the starting role.
Thanks to Julyan Stone’s ability to rebound and defend, this team can play small at times. That would likely place 6-6 freshman Haynes at the power forward spot and 6-7 Williams at the center position. That lineup will not work all the time, but the Miners would be strong enough on the glass despite the undersized frontcourt. That should allow Britten to play spot minutes and give Bohannon time to add some strength and get used to banging under the basket.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Julyan Stone, Senior, Guard, 6.1 ppg
Randy Culpepper, Senior, Guard, 17.9 ppg
Christian Polk, Senior, Guard, 9.4 ppg
Jeremy Williams, Senior, Forward, 10.0 ppg
Claude Britten, Senior, Center, 4.9 ppg
Next Top 144 Teams