POSTED: Wednesday, December 18, 2013 - 11:47pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, December 18, 2013 - 11:53pm
El Paso, TX — Following a disappointing loss to New Orleans on Monday, the UTEP Miners will get back in the saddle and face 2013 NCAA Tournament participant Northwestern State on Thursday at 7:35 p.m.
The Miners went through a lengthy film session on Tuesday, dissecting what went wrong against the Privateers before returning to the practice court on Wednesday afternoon.
“I don’t know if there’s any way of interpreting how good [the film session] is until you actually play again,” UTEP coach Tim Floyd said. “It was productive from the standpoint of listening and the fact that the film doesn’t lie. It was needed. We had practiced eight consecutive days. We had an opportunity to hopefully get our legs back underneath us and have a spirited practice today. We’ll see how it transfers to the game tomorrow.”
The Miners allowed New Orleans to shoot 50.9 percent from the field, keeping them winless under Floyd (0-11) when the opponent connects on at least half of its shot attempts. The Privateers blitzed UTEP for 60.9 percent shooting in the second half.
“[Defense was] sixty percent of the issue,” Floyd said. “I think once again we got into a rebounding battle with a team that’s 6-6, 6-7 and we’re 7-0, 7-0, which goes back to want to and will. That was an issue.
“We don’t want to be the kind of team that sits there every ballgame and says ‘We had open looks and didn’t get them down.’ I hate that copout. I feel like we should build something on stops and toughness and hardness, which we’re really not as hard and tough as we should be. It’s disappointing not to build that identity at home. That’s how you string together a lot of home wins, and it’s going to be very difficult to go on the road and win without a little better makeup and a little better defensive approach to the game of basketball, which has basically been our entire emphasis since October.”
UTEP’s McKenzie Moore and Justin Crosgile, who did not play on Monday, returned to practice on Wednesday but Floyd wouldn’t confirm if they would see action against Northwestern State.
“We’ll see how practice goes today,” he said. “I feel like we have a real opportunity to grow as a team based on guys coming back from a couple of suspensions. We’ll see who they are and how long their memories are. If they are willing to make the adjustments that we feel are necessary, maybe we’ll grow and get to a point where we can become a consistent basketball team. Guard play is typically the biggest reflector in the consistency of a basketball team.”
Northwestern State will have challenges of its own after playing at Baylor on Wednesday night.
“I hope it goes seven overtimes,” Floyd said with a smile.
The Demons were second nationally in scoring last season (80 ppg) and tied for fourth nationally this season (89 ppg) entering the week.
Floyd and Northwestern State coach Mike McConathy were teammates and “suite mates” at Louisiana Tech during the late ‘70s. They also attended each others’ weddings.
Floyd explained the Demons’ unique situation of playing on back-to-back nights.
“Most coaches would not do this. Mike is doing it as a favor to us,” he said. “Mike is a dear friend. I went to college with him. He is one of the great, great people in our business. We jacked him around on the schedule and had to change dates four or five times. They were already coming out west to Waco and already had plane tickets. It was the only way we could play because of our next opponent, Washington State. He is doing us one heck of a favor trying to play back-to-back.”