EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — If you have spent any time watching the UTEP men’s basketball team in 2020, you’ve noticed one big difference between this year’s team and last year’s team: the emergence of junior forward Tydus Verhoeven.
Verhoeven is coming off the best performance of his college career in Sunday’s 20-point win over Benedictine Mesa. He recorded his first career double-double, scoring 15 points and pulling down 10 rebounds, both career-highs.
Verhoeven is no stranger to the floor at the Don Haskins Center. He played in 30 games and started in 12 of those games last season. He was a contributor on defense and crashing the glass, however, towards the end of the year, he developed more of an aggressive mentality offensively that has carried over into the early part of this season.
“Defense was something I really helped the team with last season, but I came in [this season] and I knew I needed to be mentally better to help them offensively,” said Verhoeven. “I was able to work on things and work on my mindset to be more aggressive. I was able to finish [last season] a little more that way, but I’ve really wanted to show that even better this year.”
Through the first six games of the season, the Duquesne transfer is averaging 6.8 points and 5.8 rebounds per game this season and is shooting 73% from the floor. Verhoeven’s early-season success has come at no surprise to his head coach.
“Tydus [Verhoeven] probably came back as one of our better guys in shape. His body looked great when he got back,” said UTEP men’s basketball head coach Rodney Terry. “He [Tydus Verhoeven] and Bryson [Williams] are those guys who get to the gym early in the morning, come in and do the extra work. I think it’s really paying off for him.”
The emergence of Verhoeven also bodes well for fellow big man Bryson Williams, who commanded double-teams through the majority on Conference USA play last season. With Verhoeven showing he can be an offensive threat, teams in the league will have to pick their poison.
“Last year, we saw a lot of double-teams — sometimes triple-teams — with Bryson [Williams] in the post,” said Terry. “As you get into conference play, everyone knows everyone really well. They’ll have to decide what they want to take away.”
Williams, who was a First Team All-Conference USA selection in 2019-20, is averaging 16.3 points and 8.8 rebounds this season. While his role will continue to be to attack, Verhoeven naturally takes some of the pressure off Williams in the post.
“Tydus [Verhoeven] is my main workout partner. He works on his game everyday, he knows what he needs to work on, and he attacks everyday with urgency,” said Williams. “We have good players at every spot. At every position, we have guys who can score the ball and guys who can make the right play. Last year, I was also ultra-aggressive in doing everything I could do to help the team win, but this year I’m just taking my time and letting the game come to me. I know I have teammates around me who can score the ball as well.”
With a player like Verhoeven, who can help you in so many different ways, it has become more important to him to find a way to win games. Whether it is scoring the basketball, rebounding, blocking shots, or even cheering his teammates on from the bench, Verhoeven is willing to do it if it helps the Miners win.
“I just want to keep it going,” said Verhoeven. “We have one more non-conference game before we go into conference. We want to keep that going and hopefully help the team as much as I can.”
UTEP is 4-2 this season. The Miners will host Our Lady of the Lake on Monday, Dec. 28 at the Don Haskins Center. Tip-off is at 7 p.m.