It would have been a simple home-court-type win - for veteran teams. Years of data show whose strategy works in such games. And it's not 3-point shooting on the road in most college basketball games. There's more. UTEP's 70-56 victory over East Carolina Wednesday made a statement: OK, no big season for wins. No NCAA Tournament. But lessons from a good coach, Tim Floyd, are being learned by a real young 10-9 basketball team.
East Carolina was face down on the floor, via young Miners' play, for the last 10 minutes of the game.
Those Pirates made some 30 points on 3-point shots, but it's always been my contention you don't win from outside the arc unless you have NCAA top-10 rebounders under the basket. Given that, the virtually-everybody-is-an-underclassman Miners played in the paint and banked and dunked their way to a win.
The final oomph came midway into the second half when freshman Cedric Lang scored five points in a row and then had a steal at a time those 3-point shooters were still in the game on the scoreboard. John Bohannon, the 6-foot-11 sophomore, was dominent inside with Lang.
There's going to be a team in Utepia, all right. Next year. OK, "Wait until next year." But I'm not talking Cubs here.
This is the time of the season when teams either get better, or fade. This is a team that is being coached into a future of 1980s de ja vu.