UTEP set to host Charlotte in conference opener
El Paso, TX — The Miners (10-5) prepare to open Conference USA play at home versus Charlotte (9-4) on Thursday at 7:05 p.m, this after kicking off three members of the team for gambling: McKenzie Moore, Jalen Ragland and Justin Crosgile.
"It's a challenge, and one that we will try to embrace and do the very best we can with," Floyd said. "We are very limited in terms of our options right now with foul trouble and or injury, and also parts of the game like being able to dribble penetrate. We have three perimeter guys on scholarship. We just have to hope they don't foul or get tired.
"We have a couple of walk-ons right now that are looking forward to an opportunity to play, and they're going to have to play," he added. "And when they're in the game, we'll probably play somewhat unconventional for our fans. In our sport, everybody wants to play a different position. The centers want to play power forward, the power forwards want to play small forward and the small forwards want to play guard. John Bohannon has wanted to be a two guard since he got here. I assume he'll have a chance to do that at some point. That's kind of the way it works. Vince Hunter will play some small forward, which he would love. We'll find out if we're saying `I told you so, you can't do it' or they're saying `I told you so.' That will be the interesting part to the remainder of the season."
Charlotte is 9-4, including wins over no. 14 Michigan (63-61) and Kansas State (68-61) in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off back in November.
Charlotte has tremendous scoring balance with five players averaging over 10 points per game. Sophomore guard Shawn Lester leads the way at 13.8 ppg, followed by sophomore forward Willie Clayton (12.0 ppg), junior guard Pierria Henry (11.4 ppg), junior guard Terrence Williams (10.5 ppg) and sophomore center Mike Thorne Jr. (10.5 ppg). Tulane transfer Ben Cherry is shooting 51.1 percent (24-for-47) from three-point range.
"I watched film on them yesterday," Floyd said. "We have known about this situation since Dec. 28 and it's really consumed an awful lot of what's going on. We're preparing in a way that's a little bit unusual. Our lineup is going to look a little unusual. I commented after the Angelo State game that it could not have come at a better time. We had lost two players at that point and now we have lost three. We have experimented with these walk-ons playing different lineups. Hopefully it will help us somewhere down the road.
"They're a formidable opponent. They're very talented. We'll do the best we can. There are coaches that say we're going to play a certain style of basketball at all costs, and it doesn't matter because this is the product we want to put out there on the floor. I've always felt my job was to give our players the best opportunity to win given the talent that we have. Our roster has gone through a transition. So yesterday's practice was based on how we might have to play in order to give this team the best opportunity to win, which may be unconventional based on how our teams have looked the first three and a half years."