Orangebloods’ Keenan Womack re: tonight’s game

unihorn

MI Miner Maniac
Dec 1, 2007
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It is finally here. College basketball is back.

I feel like a kid on Christmas.

Texas christens the Moody Center tomorrow with its first regular-season game ever, where they will take on the UTEP Miners. Texas faces a similar foe in coach Joe Golding – you might remember him as the head man at Abilene Christian when you-know-what happened in the 2021 NCAA Tournament.

Like Beard, Golding is in his second season at a new program after leaving one Texas school for another. Rodney Terry will also be coaching against the school he left to be at UT, as he was the head coach in El Paso before joining the Longhorns staff in early April of 2021.

UTEP won 20 total games last year. They finished fourth in the Western Division of Conference USA, emerging victorious in 11 out of 18 conference games. While it was a fairly decent season for Golding's first year, the Miners lost nearly all of their production from last year's roster, including three different double-digit scorers in Souley Boum (19.8 points), Keonte Kennedy (14.1 points), and Jamal Bienemy (14.7 points).

They did well in the transfer portal, bringing in six players: Shamar Givance (Evansville), Tae Hardy (Southern Miss), Otis Frazier (George Mason), Calvin Solomon (Stephen F. Austin), Mario McKinney (New Mexico State), and Jon Dos Anjos (Southwestern State JuCo in Florida).

Their starting lineup will look something like this: Givance, Zachery, Hardy, Sibley, Kalu.


Joe Golding is a defensive coach, and his system on the defensive side of the ball is all about putting pressure on the ball, not entirely dissimilar from what Chris Beard does. They'll incorporate no-middle concepts, and are effective at creating turnovers by aggressively attacking the ball handler.

Though UTEP was unable to really do what Golding wanted last year on the defensive end, his track record goes back to time spent at Abilene Christian, where they finished third overall in the country in steals at 9.7 per game in the 2020-21 season. UTEP finished 82nd in steals per game last year with 7.4, so ideally for them, they are able to create more turnovers. In order to achieve the success had at his alma mater, Golding will need better defensive performances from his guards.

He may have found answers in the portal. He has three transfers who averaged over 1.5 steals per game in Givance, Hardy, and Solomon (though Solomon is a forward). However, it will be difficult for them to develop offensive chemistry this early, and likely, will struggle against a team that has the athletes that the Longhorns have.

The Longhorns starting lineup will look something like this: Hunter, Carr, Allen, Mitchell, Disu.

Keys to the game:

• Intelligent ball movement.

As I mentioned earlier, UTEP is going to try to come into the game and turn the Longhorns over as much as possible. The remedy to consistent ball pressure by the defense, especially when they're icing ball screens and running no middle concepts, is skip passes to the weak side for open threes or drives. Forcing a defender who is zoned up to run across the floor not only makes it difficult for them to get a quality contest, but also tires them out over the course of a game. Texas shot 63% from deep against Arkansas – now obviously, that is not going to be the norm, but if they can consistently hit, say, 36-37% of threes this season (as opposed to 33% last year), they can better handle teams that attack ball handlers aggressively.

• Dominate the glass.

UTEP doesn't have a lot of experienced big men in their rotation this season, and even when they did last year, they really struggled to rebound. They finished 313th in total rebounds per game, 308th in offensive rebounds, and 275th in defensive rebounds. Guys like Dillon Mitchell, Dylan Disu, and Christian Bishop should have a field day on the boards, and preventing the Miners from getting confidence on put-backs and second-chance opportunities should translate to a fairly easy victory.

• Create turnovers.

The Miners averaged 14.6 turnovers per game in 2021-22, which landed them in the bottom 50 in the country. With basically an entirely new roster, disjointedness is going to haunt them early on, so Texas needs to take advantage of this by doing what UTEP tries to do to other teams: pressure the ball. While the Miners have a a guy who can stroke from deep (Tae Hardy shoots 38.5% on 3.7 attempts per game), Texas should be able to create enough havoc to really discourage UTEP early on in this game from throwing skip passes for open shots. With the athletic defensive talent they have in Tyrese Hunter, Arterio Morris, and Dillon Mitchell, guarding the perimeter should be no problem, and by that fact, creating turnovers shouldn't be difficult to do. Creating chaos is sort of the ethos of a Chris Beard defense, and they should aim to do just that tonight in front of their home crowd.

Picks:

Texas -21
Under 130
 
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utep2step

MI Miner Maniac
Jul 10, 2001
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I seriously doubt UT will shoot sixty three percent. That's basically red smoking hot, but then again UT will be pumped in the new digs and a big crowd so who knows? Ninety percent mental, right?

Z has to use his massive muscular frame and play with his feet or he will be riding the bench as usual with foul trouble. He's all we got inside.
 

MikePatrick915

Starter
Mar 11, 2022
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I seriously doubt UT will shoot sixty three percent. That's basically red smoking hot, but then again UT will be pumped in the new digs and a big crowd so who knows? Ninety percent mental, right?

Z has to use his massive muscular frame and play with his feet or he will be riding the bench as usual with foul trouble. He's all we got inside.
Kalu did not look terrible. They have both improved big time since last year. Too bad Dos Anjos went down.
 

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