I thought I would change it up a bit this week.
I was able to attend my first game of the season this past weekend against UTSA (moved away from El Paso) and I left with some things on my mind. The game, athletic director, and fans.
To be honest, I have never been so disinterested in a UTEP basketball game in my life.
Watching the team struggle in person is a whole different animal than watching them struggle on TV. You see things in person that stand out to you and it’s frustrating. We don’t have a good product on the floor right now and rotations/lineups are suuuuuuper questionable. Flaggert and Touchet were on the floor the final 4 minutes of a tight game. Flaggert doesn’t really provide anything other than a 50/50 chance on a charge/block call and yeah, Touchet ended up hitting a big shot and some free throws but he’s not the ideal guy you want out there.
Omega has really struggled this season and he just doesn’t seem himself. He was held scoreless and never was able to create anything. Watching the game, some of us were saying that we just don’t think Omega is a #1 option type player. He played entirely different the last two year with Artis, Moore and Morris. Playing as a 2nd or 3rd option might be what he’s best suited for. I did like that he came off the bench though, I feel like we’re getting enough from our freshman that you could do that. (I suggested that move on twitter like two weeks ago so I’m sure Phil is following now).
Seeing Tirus Smith play was a pleasant surprise. That guy brings energy and fire a like no one on that team. Hopefully whoever the new coach is can keep that core of freshman together.
Overall, it was not the best game I’ve been to but definitely was good to be back in the Don.
I was fortunate enough to be able to meet Jim Senter and speak with him for the majority of the second half and all it took was a tweet.
I tweeted Senter in the first half with my section and row number hoping I’d get a chance to meet him at probably the only game I would be able to attend. Low and behold its halftime and I see Senter looking around for @someguychris_. I flagged him down and he sat with my wife and our friends. He did not only introduce himself but sat with us for a good 15-20 minutes talking all things UTEP.
One thing I took away from our conversation was his honesty and willingness to listen.
He wasn’t afraid to say how bad we were, that UTEP does need to do things differently. He brought up the turning the lights off for intros and mentioned the cost of overhauling all the lights in the Don (300K+) and he also offered an alternative that might work (shutters). He didn’t seem to hold anything back and said that things will change. He hasn’t just been seated in the same chair behind the bench and not offer answers to tough questions. The guy is doing his part and its working.
I really do believe that the athletics program is headed in the right direction with Jim Senter and hope that the university can hold onto him for a while.
For being a team that is almost dead last in the standings, 7-16, had its head coach retire, and not playing good basketball, I was a bit surprised with the crowd. The announced attendance was 6355 which would be the fourth highest attended game of the season for the Miners.
There was a guy sitting behind us during the game that would not stop yelling at the players, refs, coach, etc. At first I thought “man can this dude shut up already” but then I remembered that that passion for UTEP basketball is what makes the Don so special. Everyone knows when that place is rocking it is one of the toughest places to play, so to that fan that wouldn’t shut up, keep it going my man.
Oh and students…… STAND UP! Don’t care if you are winning or losing, that section should always be the rowdiest and proudest. I was half tempted to go down there with the old crew and give some lessons. Maybe next time.