Tim Hardaway Wins Greatest UTEP Basketball Player in Fan Vote
It started with 64 players and finished with just one. Over the last three weeks, fans have had the opportunity to vote on our all-time TWC/UTEP basketball bracket. This morning, a total of 155 people cast their vote on the greatest Miner basketball player. Tim Hardaway and Bobby Joe Hill went head-to-head in the final round and 56-percent of the votes were in favor of the man credited for the creation of the Killer Crossover. The former captain of the 1965-66 TWC team had a terrific run into the finals, including wins over fellow Miners legends David Lattin in the semis and Jim "Bad News" Barnes in the quarterfinals. Hardaway's toughest match-up came in the semifinals, where he was able to get by one of his heroes growing up, Nate "Tiny" Archibald to advance into the championship round.
The Bear Region
Texas Western Region
Memorial Gym Region
Glory Road Region
This project was a lot of fun to watch, since so many people voted throughout the process. It was not without controversy either, since some fans were upset that Archibald did not get by Hardaway and win the tournament.
Here are some other observations:
1. Three of the four Miners who were voted into the Final Four played for Don Haskins in the 1960s. Hardaway was the only contemporary player to advance into the semifinals.
2. Barnes was arguably the most dominant player who ever wore a TWC uniform, but he received just 36% of the fans vote when he lost to Hill in the quarterfinals. He was the first #1 seed to lose.
3. Antonio Davis also had a strong run into the Elite Eight as a 6-seed, but he was no match for Hardaway, losing to his former teammate and getting just 11% of the vote.
4. The official UTEP men's basketball Twitter account held a bracket for the second best team in program history. The 1991-92 team edged out the 2009-10 squad for the honors. Marlon Maxey from that '92 team did advance to the Sweet 16 of our bracket but he lost to Randy Culpepper who played on the 2010 team.
5. Former UTEP great Fred Reynolds spoke with many of his Miners teammates during the bracket contest and they were either not happy with their seeding or being left out of the 64-man list. Reynolds advised me to stay home for awhile because if any former players saw me out, I might not make it back in one piece.
My final takeaway is that although UTEP has not won an NCAA Tournament game since 1992, there has been a staggering amount of talented players to wear a Miners uniform over the years. The men's basketball program has been filled with tradition and fans want to see it return to the arena named after the Hall of Fame coach. I hope that UTEP can start hanging banners again from the Don Haskins Center rafters sooner rather than later.