EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Joe Golding’s first season at the helm of UTEP ended in the best season the Miners have had in years, as they won 20 games and went to the postseason.

However, there’s almost no continuity from 2021-22 to 2022-23; just three players return from Golding’s first season, as he and his coaching staff brought in 13 new players (10 scholarship, three walk-ons) for his second season.

As UTEP opened the first of 30 official practices for the upcoming season on Monday, there’s plenty of reasons for optimism, but also plenty of questions, too.

“We’re still playing the name game, but I think the comradery is good,” Golding said. “It’s always scary when you bring in that many new players, its something we have to work on daily. We’re going to figure out more about each other, but I like where we’re at right now.”

UTEP’s depth figures to be much better than it was a season ago, which will allow Golding to play the kind of defense that he became famous for at Abilene Christian in the process of upsetting Texas in the 2021 NCAA Tournament.

At ACU, Golding would frequently sub players out in hockey-esque line changes; that’s something UTEP could do in 2022-23, because of the depth Golding thinks they’ll have.

“I think we can play more guys this year and get back to the style we want to play on the defensive end of the floor. I think we’ll be grimy, tough and our guys will play hard. Offensively, it’s a work in progress figuring out how we’ll score the basketball,” Golding said.

Shouldering the load of the offensive burden will likely be guards Shamar Givance, Tae Hardy and Malik Zachery. Forwards Jon dos Anjos and Jamari Sibley are also expected to help in that regard and it could be much more by-committee than it was last season, when Jamal Bieniemy and Souley Boum led the way offensively.

UTEP’s preseason workouts are all leading up to the Nov. 7 opener at Texas, which will be the first game at the new Moody Center. It’s a chance for Golding to square off with Longhorns head coach Chris Beard; the pair are best friends. It will also be the Miners’ first clash against former head coach Rodney Terry, who’s now an assistant at Texas.

Opening the season in a high-profile setting like that will only help the Miners in the long run and if they put on a strong showing, it could bode well for the rest of the year.

“We’re going to get a ton of exposure by playing there. Any time people are talking about Moody and the Texas game, they’ll be talking about the UTEP basketball program, which is important for us as we continue to build our brand back in Texas. And then number two, we’ll play a top-10 team in the country opening night,” Golding said.

After the Texas game, UTEP will host rival New Mexico State in the Battle of I-10 on Nov. 12 at 7 p.m. It’s a big first week for the Miners and makes the next 30 practices all-the-more important.