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March 02, 2009


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It's a lack of development from Claude Britten and Portalatin, a lack of experience and aggression from Arnett Moultrie, and a failed experiment in Kareem Cooper. The big guys were supposed to be the difference maker from last year to this year and it hasn't materialized.


Response to Joe:

1) Traditional powers can recruit the best players. No news there. We get what we can get. One thing, I don't feel excited when we get a Memphis castoff. I'd rather find a gem in the rough than take someone our competitor doesn't want.

2) No. 2 is really a No. 1 issue. We have one excellent all around player that every team on the planet knows we'll go to in crunch time. The rest are decent at best.

3) It's pretty obvious that this team is not one of the most talented. I'd rather have a smaller, scrappy but talented team than a taller, not so talented team on the floor.

Finally, what's scary is the loss of Jackson after this week. No more all around player and 24 point a game scorer next year. There won't be a replacement for him. The team will be lucky to go 50-50

Just my take.


A friend of mine was talking to Stull last year and Stull said wait until you see Cooper. We are going to have a great year. I think we have plenty of talent We just lack a coach who can put it all together. We might get some good players next year but I don't see any improvement until we get rid of Barbee. If it wasn't for Jackson we would have hit a new low. I didn't watch the Tulane game but they shot 50% from the field and 51% from the 3-point line and that tells me our defense stuck again.

Miner Fan

Wow, what a disappointing season. Barbee is a brutal game coach who needs a good basketball guy on the bench telling him what to do. His ego won't allow that, though. Next year will be the most frustrating year for Miner fans since Gillispie's first year. Here's hoping they lower season ticket prices or there will be nobody in the stands...like this year. It's sad.

Toasted Whitebred

Conference games on the road are extremely tough to win. Everyone should know that by now. Tulane shot lights out and made more free throws that we attempted. Miners outplayed them in every other facet of the game except free throws. Perhaps the home town refs had something to do with that I don't know.

How about this.
3. We start 2 freshmen and 2 sophomores. Our team is very young and still developing.
4. We don't have good outside shooters and our inside players have not developed yet. Barbee has addressed this through recruiting and transfers. He has good shooters and strong inside players coming in next year.

The true test of a coach is how well their teams play down the wire in close games. I think the Miners have done quite well in close games despite their youth.

I can't comprehend people who think players aren't going to improve year after year.


Toasted - "Conference games on the road are extremely tough to win. Everyone should know that by now." Right, except that all the teams in the league play the same number of road and home games. By your logic, I think, Tulane would lose at UTEP and UTEP would lose at Tulane, and all teams would have the same number of wins and loses. The reality is that good teams win on the road and at home. The Miners are not that good. Sad but true.

And please don't suggest the Tulane's hometown refs did the Miners in. I swear that we Miner fans are absolutely the worst in the nation when it comes to believing the Miners have been "homered" whether the Miners play in El Paso or on the road. It just isn't true. There is no conspiracy. We have two scorers who may or may not penetrate to score, but are just as likely to fire from the outside. Until we have scoring big men and Barbee decides that the big men will be part of the offensive game plan, we will not get to the line more than teams that have inside scoring. It just won't happen.


Joe, i'll take a different route and say the point guard play is really what needs to improve...

Every great Miner team has had solid point guard play and while I like Stone, the kid really has no offensive skills.

He's a good passer, solid defender, but imagine how good he would be if he had a shot or if he put pressure on the defense with his scoring ability.

We can talk big men, but it was clear early this season that Coop was not as good as advertised and Britten has some game, but cant stay on the court.

Moultrie will be good, but lets give the guy a break, he's a freshman.

To be fair, Stone is just a sophomore, and he has improved from last season to this, but Utep needs him to be 3 times better next year to get to the next level.

And despite all the negativity on this blog, I personally am not ready to put this team to rest.

Wednesday will be the defining moment...
CTB's father passed away(my condolences)and DJ's final home game, plus one of the best teams in the conference makes for an emotional night.

17-11 is a disappointment considering the expectations, but the season's not done.

Pack the Don peeps, this is Miner basketball in March, get hyped. I hope I dont have to eat my words tomorrow night.


I agree with RJ. If you're a true Miner fan you don't give up when things go bad. This is when the team needs support not when they are in first place. I understand that some people are just giving their honest opinion, but the season is not over yet.

Toasted Whitebred

I would like to express my heartfelt condolences to the Coach and his family. Our hearts are with you coach.

just a thought

Joe there is a 3) All of the above.

Again, maybe DJ and Culpepper will have a great C-USA tourney but it looks bleak for UTEPIA right now.

Toasted, "I can't comprehend people who think players aren't going to improve year after year." Even at the collegiate level players do not improve year after year. Guys often bottom out. Sure a guy might get bigger, faster, and stronger but that doesn't always mean better. How so? Those factors may help put a guy into position to make a play/shot but won't make it for him. Some in UTEPIA may remember all-Everything UTEP LB Michael Comer. I'll argue that he got fatter, slower and weaker year after year but he never got worse. He produced regardless.

I played with dozens and dozens of guys that reached their potential in college. In fact, some had a sophomore slump that lasted their entire career. Sure Jordan Palmer had one or two statistical improvements from year to year but I don't think many would argue that he actually got better with age.

We need to realize what Coach Green ranted: "they are what we thought they were." Same thing applies to players. I'm not saying that a player can't improve year to year but if you're favorite player is getting good playing time right now; chances are he's not going to be a different player next year.

Toasted Whitebred


I agree in principle. Some players will not get better with age but given the opportunity to develop, I would say most athletes will either improve or go do something else. Would you say Randy, Stone, and DJ haven't improved this year over last? I would say they have and the stats say that. McCulley was doing better before his injury but he was better this year than last. I think coach Barbee is better this year than his first year and the stats say he is. That is my point. When this group ceases to get better, then we can run around saying the sky is falling.

Just an update on our recruits. Myron Strong is shooting 50% from the field and averaging 14 ppg. Jeremy Williams is averageing 16 ppg and shooting 54% from the field. Last year at Colorado(big 12) he averaged 8 ppg and 4 rebounds as a freshmen. Marcus Ruppel was shooting 72% from 3 point range until he quit. He had only taken 18 3 pointers according to max preps but that is still pretty good. IF Caracter develops and I'm not getting my hopes up, this could be a really outstanding recruiting class.

Bottom line is there is lots of room for optimism.

just a thought

Toasted, I agree that our players got better statistically from last year. I guess my point is that they do not get so much better that it makes a difference in the W/L standings at the end of the day.

In fact, some guy looked into this way more than I will ever do but it basically confirms mathematically that college basketball players usually improve only so much. A major flaw is that the formula doesn't account for defensive improvement and/or coachability of the player. In a nutshell, if we're only recruiting 6's they don't become 10's by their senior year no matter what.

Interesting read...


Great one year turn-arounds rarely happen. When Mike Price went to consecutive bowl games it had more to do with a down conference, unfamiliarity of new team and scheduling than player improvement yet the average fan will never know it...

John A

To me, the jury is still out on Barbee and his ability to coach. Without any doubt, he's a tremendous recruiter, but is he a good coach? That's the $64,000 question. The other good question is why they are 17-11?

When one has to follow in the footsteps of Haskins, it will be a pretty tall order to fill as unfair as it may seem. After all, Haskins set the bar really high and so far Barbee hasn't met that standard yet; at least to many fans. The fans in El Paso have come to expect a winning team; particularly with the height and talent this year’s team possesses. But, for reasons unknown, the team has failed to come together as a cohesive unit. It seems there are too many individuals on the team and not enough team work. It takes a coach with a hard nose approach to bring the individuals together as a single unit and I don't see that being demonstrated by Barbee. This is what I think is missing.


Antonio Davis got better every year at UTEP. So did Juden Smith. Dave Feitl. Tim Hardaway. There are countless others.

The reason some teams succeed and others fail comes down to a combination of talent, chemistry, and luck. The biggest factor that is often overlooked and really is impossible to measure is the competitive nature of the players. You know it when you see it.

How often do you see extremely talented teams who are predicted to dominate fail to meet expectations? They are said to have fallen on their faces. The reality is you that you need all the factors of winning to come together.

There are lots of talented teams across the country who think that they should be winning, but they aren't. They want the coaches head on a platter. They want to know why the superstar player is so selfish. They want answers. Sometimes there are none.

The Dude

I'm just sick and tired of UTEP being advertised as a NCAA Tourney team when we cant even have a good record against our conference. May I remind that after Memphis, no other team should be beating UTEP. Are you going to tell me that Tulsa and Houston are better than UTEP? The answer is no because we have the talent that can beat these teams but because some idiot (our own coach) doesn't know how to coach worth a dime, then we are going to be what we are right now, a middle of the conference team. It's pathetic to see such great talent go down the tubes yet again. The way I see it, is that I don't want to hear the "Wait till next year" ordeal. Show me the action that UTEP can finally be a contender in anything besides soccer. It wasn't that long ago that we were down to the wire against Maryland, or coming close to Utah in the NCAA. Now it seems like Barbee's main goal is to get into his tournament (CBI: Coach Barbee Invitational).

Until the team goes back to fundamentals such as DEFENSE, and an OFFENSIVE SYSTEM, then we can start to see improvement. And to those who say that we have an offense system, please that's a joke out on the floor, youth teams at the YMCA run better offensive and defensive schemes than UTEP. It's true that no one can do what Haskins did (heck few have done it in History), but nonetheless we should be beating these teams in our conference. I just can't begin to explain how sick I am of a lack of leadership from Barbee, willy-nilly play, and no accountability after the loss.

It's sad to see DJ and Watts leave because that's the last bit of fundamentals we had left. Culpepper shoots from the moon, everyone isn't mentally tough to get in the game. If Britten had health problems, why did Barbee even use a scholarship on someone who only plays 7-10 min a game? What we also need is to bring in a pure shooter, one of those gym rats who shoots day in and day out cause with no inside play, outside shooting will be the only thing that can keep us close in games. Hey Barbee, recuit players who will do anything to play, enough with these characters from other teams, learn a thing or two from the past and you might be surprised what will can do.

Tom Avila

UTEP fans are big time cry babies and bandwagon fans. Stop comparing Barbee to Haskins. Let it go. The man has his own coaching style. He can't go out there and do the plays for the players. They have to do it. I have heard so-called fans itch and moan that Barbee just yells at the players from the sidelines. What the heck do you want him to do? I would to if the team wasn't executing the offense like they are supposed to.

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UTEP sports blog: Joe Muench has been a sports writer and a sports editor in El Paso for decades, but he’s best known as the columnist everyone loves to talk about. His UTEP athletics blog starts up the conversation again.

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