Tim Floyd Blames Attrition for UTEP’s Struggles
The UTEP men’s basketball team began the week with a 2-13 record and they have lost 12 games in a row for the first time since the 1934-35 season. Head coach Tim Floyd appeared on the radio postgame show following the Miners’ 73-65 loss to Southern Miss Saturday afternoon. During the interview, he elaborated on why his team has struggled so much this season.
“We understand that we’re not a quality product right now,” Floyd said. “I want to remind everybody that there’s not a team in the country can withstand the attrition that we’ve had. Injury to Matt, two guys going into the NBA Draft, McSwiggan being declared ineligible a year ago and he decided to leave us. That’s a helluva problem. Then, a discipline situation with Terry Winn. If you want to blame all of that on me, then go ahead but you don’t get it.”
UTEP junior center Matt Willms has been battling injuries for much of his collegiate career. The latest injury is a sprained ankle he suffered against Louisiana Tech last Thursday. Despite the injury, he played 24 minutes two days later against Southern Miss and scored six points and grabbed seven rebounds. The Miners need Willms on the floor to have any chance at assembling a low post threat. However, the team is vulnerable when Willms is less than 100 percent.
In the last two years, Coach Floyd lost forward Vince Hunter and guard Lee Moore to the pros. Both were impact scorers and have been difficult to replace. Josh McSwiggan was supposed to be one of UTEP’s top newcomers last season, but he was not cleared to play by the NCAA. After sitting out the season, McSwiggan decided to leave El Paso and play this season at Casper College where he is averaging 14 points per game. Terry Winn began the season with the Miners, but he was sent home early from the Charleston Classic and chose to leave the team. Winn announced last month that he will be transferring to UT Rio Grande Valley, where former UTEP teammate Lew Stallworth is playing.
In other recent interviews, Coach Floyd has mentioned that the "cavalry" will be coming next season. The Miners have six newcomers for the class of 2017-18. Four of them are freshmen (Evan Gilyard, Kobe Magee, Tirus Smith, and Trey Wade) and two are sophomores (Isiah Osborne and Roderick Williams). I cannot tell you that these players will be instant difference makers and help UTEP turn around their men's basketball program overnight. When Billy Gillispie went from six wins during his first season as head coach to 24 wins and the NCAA Tournament in year two, he had the two best junior college players in the nation to help him. Floyd does not have a Fili Rivera and Omar Thomas to help him next season. However, his recruiting class appears to have an impact point guard in Gilyard and much needed size down low in Williams and Smith. If everything pans out, basketball fans can hope that the next few years will be much better than the current situation at UTEP.