Here it is ladies and gentlemen, the beginning of the season. The opponent, the Miners of UTEP. This is a great opportunity for the fans to come see the Red Raiders up and close before the season officially starts on the sixth of November against Incarnate Word. Coach Beard appears to have his boys ready to go, so let’s look at these Red Raiders.
This team looks like it will rely of defense early in the season, especially with so many new pieces on this team. This will be the first time we as fans get a look at newcomers Matt Mooney, Tariq Owens, Deshawn Corprew, Kyler Edwards, and Josh Mballa. This group of newcomers will be looking to make an immediate impact on this team, with Mooney and Owens most likely starting on this team as soon as the season starts. Khavon Moore is also a newcomer to this team with tremendous upside but is still not cleared to play according to Head Coach Chris Beard.
Let’s now talk about the UTEP Miners. They have a new head coach this season in Rodney Terry, a man who is familiar with the state of Texas. Although he has coached for the last 7 years at Fresno State University, he played his college basketball at St. Edwards in Austin, Texas and was an assistant there in the early 1990s. He was also the long time assistant of Rick Barnes at the University of Texas from 2002-2011, when he got the position at Fresno State. Terry is looking at a very young roster this season, and a bunch of transfers who cannot play this season due to eligibility with the NCAA, including Tech target Anthony Tarke.
The Miners will return three starters from last year’s team in power forward Paul Thomas, small forward Isiah Osborne, and point guard Evan Gilyard. They will also be returning sixth man Kobe Magee to the mix, as the sophomore guard will look to have a bigger role on the team.
Thomas is a 6’8” senior out of Houston, Texas and will be responsible for collecting a good chunk of the Miners’ rebounds this season. He averaged eight points and five and a half rebounds for the Miners last season shooting 46% from the field, 27% from three, and 50% from the free throw line. He is the only senior on this team, and his leadership will be invaluable to new coach Rodney Terry.
Nice dish from Omega Harris to Paul Thomas for the jam! UTEP leads 56-55 pic.twitter.com/9pluP8eFn3— #BlueCollarMentality⛏ (@UTEP_MBB) August 18, 2017
Osborne is an all-around player for the Miners. He is a 6’5” sophomore out of Windsor, Ontarino in Canada. He averaged nine points and three rebounds for the Miners last season. Osborne also shot 33% from the three point line and 67% from the free throw line. He is the most complete player on this team, and will look to make an impact with his all-around skill set.
Gilyard and Magee will most likely make up the backcourt for the Miners, they both saw tons of playing time last season as freshman, and they will be looked to for passing and scoring as well. Magee in particular is probably the team’s best long range shooter as he shot 45% from long range last season. Gilyard was the team’s point guard last season and will most likely reprise that role this season.
Now that we have looked at the Miners, let’s look at the Red Raiders.
Losing a ton of production from last season’s team, this year’s Red Raiders will looks much different than last season. The projected lineup in my eyes is as follows:
C - Norense Odiase
F - Tariq Owens
G/F - Jarrett Culver
G - Matt Mooney
G - Davide Moretti
These guys will most likely start the game for the Red Raiders but they won’t be the only ones playing. I believe that every Red Raider that suits up will play in this exhibition game, as it will be a great opportunity for the team to play against another team.
Coach Beard mentioned in his opening presser earlier this week that there were 8 guys in his rotation as of now, I believe that 9 guys will get great minutes in the first few games of the year these guys include the five aforementioned starters and the following guys:
G/F - Brandone Francis
F - Malik Ondigo
F - Deshawn Corprew
G - Kyler Edwards
All four of these guys will most likely be the main bench guys later in the season as the depth of this team will be crucial to its success. This team will need to rely of its athleticism and great scorers in Mooney and Culver to get points to start out the season. These Red Raiders will look to run the offense and play good defense against the Miners tonight.
This game is more than about winning and losing, it is about the fans and the contribution to an amazing charity. All the proceeds from this game will go to the Santa Fe Strong Charity, a fund supporting those affected by the Santa Fe shooting earlier this year. It is $10 for general admission tickets for this game.