The Colorado State basketball travels to El Paso, Texas, to take on former WAC-mate UTEP Tuesday night. Each team is 2-1 so far this year and with each team still figuring out what type of team they are. We decided reached out to SB Nation's UTEP community Miner Rush to help us get to know the Miners basketball team a bit better.
1. UTEP is only three games into the season, but what have you learned about this team?
So far I think we've learned that we're still trying to find ourselves as a basketball team. Normally, Tim Floyd coached teams are aggressive, defensive minded teams, but there's no question that the new rules of college basketball are going to force them to adjust their style of play. We do know that we're going to have to rely on our bigs as we're a little thin at the guard position, but we're still trying to find out exactly who will be our go to guys.
2. Who are some key players that UTEP has on their roster?
There's no question that UTEP's key players, if they are going to be successful, are the guys in the front court. Our two centers, John Bohannon (6'10 SR) and Matt Willms (7'1 RSFR) opened up with a good game against Loyola, but were held in check against NMSU. They've got to get going to open things up for this team. Also, look out for true freshman forward Vince Hunter and junior guard/forward Julian Washburn. Hunter is a beast of an athlete, and is already playing with a ton of confidence, just two games in to his young career. He will be a force in the paint.
Washburn is our shutdown defender, and truly our best scorer. He's not a great shooter from the outside, but he does have a great mid range game and can get to the rim and the line. He's been a little off the last two games so I'd look for him to get going against Colorado State.
3. What is the style of this UTEP basketball team?
UTEP is definitely a defensive minded team. They thrive on that end of the court, and will look to force teams into turnovers and bad shots and convert those into easy points on the other end. The Miners usually like to play an aggressive man defense, but coach Floyd has been known to mix it up with different zone looks and he'll even play a little box and one or triangle and two if necessary.
Offensively, they would definitely like to slow the game down just a bit, work out of their half court sets, and get some quality looks at the bucket. They've got the talent to get out and run in transition as well, but I'd say they're most effective at a slower pace. Ideally, I'd say the Miners would like their games to be played in the mid 60's.
4. Where do you think UTEP has an edge over Colorado State?
I think the biggest edge the Miners will have will be in the paint. They boast four players over 6'10, and that doesn't include the freshman Hunter (6'8) who plays big and is perhaps the most athletic of all of them. Colorado State is a bit undersized and the Miners should be able to take advantage of that. At least, if they are going to win the game, they will have to.
5. What are your predictions of this game?
I think the Miners will look to keep guys like Avila and Octeus in check, and will force the Rams to find their scoring from other positions. Considering the size advantage, I think the Miners will be able to control the boards, and should win the points in the paint battle. For them, those are the keys to success. The Don Haskins Center should be fairly packed, and the Miners should be able to come away with the win, likely in a close one.
Miners 73 - Rams 68
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