Floyd Determined to Make Hunter a UTEP Star Without Inflated Ego
UTEP hasn’t had a Vince Hunter-type talent since … well, since Coach Emeritus Don Haskins tried to downplay the talent of Tim Hardaway prior to Hardaway’s junior season. That was a quarter century ago.
UTEP has had some top players, but not an offensive do-everything like Hunter.
Bottom line: Sophomore Hunter is a really big-time player, as was Hardaway (1985-89).
Here’s what we’re seeing here. We’re talking coaches’ downplay. Neither Hall-of-Fame Haskins or now-UTEP Coach Tim Floyd are about to publicly proclaim a big-timer is on their team.
Recall at the pre-season WAC Media Days of yore when Haskins told reporters that he wasn’t sure he had a point guard to run his offense. Virtually everyone snickered. He had junior-to-be (All-NBA pro-to-be) Hardaway. Haskins was being Haskins. That’s why Hunter, a can-do-everything 6-foot-8 scorer and rebounder gets kinda of a “pfft” from Floyd in media talks.
Nobody can be a star on a Haskins or Floyd team. Recall the Haskins yarn about when he played for Hank Iba at Oklahoma A&M (now Oklahoma State). He said he’d just made an all-tournament team … and the next game he wasn’t even in the starting lineup. Iba found some reason to bench him.
As most here are aware, Floyd is a Haskins coaching pupil. Floyd was a Haskins assistant during those 1980 glory years (no, it was Rus Bradburd who recruited Hardaway). Floyd, though, is in the Iba-Haskins bloodline when it comes to basketball, and the way it should be coached. That’s why Miner fans won’t be seeing Vince Hunter be treated as a … say a Kentucky star … in the Floyd regime.
Vince Hunter is a 6-foot-8 leaper who averages double figures in scoring and rebounding (16.7, 10.3). Yet he’s being held in check. He averages only 28 minutes of playing time per game. Games are 40 minutes. Floyd finds reasons to keep Hunter on the team and not off in “Star World.” Hunter didn’t even play in a recent exhibition game.
Bottom line: Vince Hunter is going to prove himself a national superstar. And Floyd is going to make sure he gets to that echelon without getting too big for his UTEP britches.