Plus or minus: dissecting the hiring of Rodney Terry
UTEP finalized the deal and hired Fresno State’s Rodney Terry to become the 19th head coach in program history Monday.
He will be officially hired, pending an approval by the UT System Board of Regents, and will host his introductory press conference tomorrow afternoon.
Below are some pluses and minuses for Terry to keep in consideration at face value:
Plus: He’s been there and done that
Through seven seasons with the Bulldogs, Terry took Fresno State to one NCAA Tournament, one NIT appearance and one CBI finals. He also raised a Mountain West Conference Tournament title banner in 2016.
He knows what it means to coach at a mid-major level and what it takes to win in these conferences. The Mountain West has shown a lot of promise in men’s college hoops, which makes Terry’s hire a notable one.
Under his reigns, Fresno State had three consecutive 20-win seasons and had four in the past five years. The last time the Miners had over 20 wins was the 2014-15 season when they went 22-11. Bottom line is this team seems to be in contention year after year for a Mountain West title. UTEP hasn't raised any sort of conference banners since 2010.
Minus: Not enough significant wins
During his time at Fresno State, Terry never had a win in the NCAA Tournament. The Fresno Bee reported that only former head coach Ed Gregory in the late ‘70s was granted that much time to never win a NCAA Tournament game in Fresno.
Terry finished his career at Fresno State with a 126-108 overall record.
Not once during his seven years did the Bulldogs crack the top-25. Also, they struggled against Power Five schools, losing 17 of their last 18 games, and only beatOregon State in 2016, who finished the 2016-17 season with five wins.
Although the Miners had a struggling year, even they managed to capture a win over Pac-12 affiliate Washington State, 76-69, this season.
Plus: Dominant recruiter, especially in Texas
Terry will return back home to Texas, where he grew up in Angleton and played college basketball for St. Edward’s University in Austin. After his playing career, Terry coached throughout Texas as an assistant with Baylor (1996-98) and Texas (2002-11) prior to becoming the head coach at Fresno State.
He has coached and helped recruit a total of 13 players at Texas that were chosen in the NBA draft, including five lottery picks with T.J. Ford in 2003, LaMarcus Aldridge in 2004, D.J. Augustin in 2006, Kevin Durant in 2007 and Tristan Thompson in 2010.
No, UTEP probably won’t lure the next Kevin Durant to El Paso, but spending seven seasons at the mid-major level makes him used to recruiting players to a lower-level program.
On an interesting note, Terry would have returned two all-conference selection players at Fresno State, with junior guard Deshon Taylor and sophomore forward Bryson Williams. The Fresno Bee reported that Taylor could leave the program as a graduate transfer and follow Terry, if he wanted.
Not even 24 hours into the job Terry offered 2019 guard Deon Stroud, who is listed as a three-star recruit by ESPN, to come to UTEP. He’s listed as a 6-foot-5 shooting guard from Fresno, and has offers from San Jose State, UNLV, San Diego State, and Grand Canyon. If Terry could land a name like Stroud, it would look really impressive for the program.
Minus: Turnover rate at UTEP/behind the recruiting game
Unbeknown to Terry, there could be several players from the Miners that could decide to leave during the off-season. Now this isn’t a minus for Terry necessarily and it isn’t his fault considering UTEP’s notorious inability to keep players on their roster year after year.
With that being said, there are also no 2018 recruits, which again isn't Terry’s fault.
But these are things to consider when evaluating a program. From most reports from media in Fresno, it seems like Terry is a very welcoming guy and seems like a player’s coach. But will he be able to snap UTEP’s horrible turnover rate?
Young players that have more than two years of eligibility include freshman forwards Trey Wade and Tirus Smith, freshman guards Kobe Magee and Deshaun Highler and sophomore guard Isiah Osborne. If they wanted to, they could leave from UTEP and use their eligibility elsewhere. A source close to the team says freshman guard Evan Gilyard will stay with the team, but no official word yet.
Plus: Contracts and program spending are growing points
After last season with the Bulldogs, Terry and the program reached a deal that would put him at a $650,000 salary through 2021, per Mountain West Wire, which was about $50,000 more than former UTEP head coach Tim Floyd was making.
Terry, however, included a no buyout clause in his contract, thus allowing him to swiftly take the UTEP job with no amount due to Fresno State.
UTEP caters heavily to the basketball players, with the Foster Stevens Center practice facility, a strength and conditioning center, film rooms, locker rooms, a sports medicine center and different recreational areas for both the men’s and women’s teams. The Fresno Bee reported that UTEP invests significantly more money than Fresno State on its basketball programs, $4.13 million to $3.29 million. Moreover, the Miners, although just 11-20 this past season, recorded a slightly higher attendance than Fresno State, averaging 6,155 per game.
UTEP is an athletic program that will work with Terry to accommodate his needs and will give him the ability to grow with the program in its “new era” phase that Athletic Director Jim Senter is pioneering throughout the department.
It wouldn't be a suprise if Terry took a paycut coming to UTEP with a sallary loaded with incentives. Senter understands the importance of winning and will likely pay more if Terry can raise banners and bring titles down the stretch.
Plus/minus: The departure from Fresno State
Mountain West Wire reported that Terry said he felt that he did all he could at Fresno State. The Fresno Bee said Terry may have thought he did all he could do with the program. Reports of an alleged stained relationship with the athletic department were also brought into fruition over the weekend. There are no confirmation on any of these reports, however.
But as he departed from the school, it seemed that even if he was displeased with the program, he never showed it.
He seemed to always be competing with his team this season, never shying away from competition and encouraging his teammates and fan base. When his former players at Fresno State were interviewed yesterday, all had nothing but great things to say about their former coach.
For the first time in years, excitement seems to be coming back to the fans in March. Like the hire or disagree with the choice, one thing is for sure: UTEP men’s basketball got that much more interesting.
Similarly to Dana Dimel in football, one can expect a culture change under Senter and Terry working together for the program. One can also expect more fan involvement for the next season, as it seems like Terry is engaging with supporters.
Here’s what he had to say about the hiring, “I’m super excited about an unbelievable opportunity at the University of Texas at El Paso,” Terry said in a release. “It’s a program that has experienced a very high level of success and has a great basketball tradition that I’m looking forward to building upon.”