Like many El Pasoans, I grew up in an era when sellout crowds at the Don Haskins Center (then the Special Events Center) were the norm. In fact, I have so many great memories of Miner Ball, that they stand out more than the last 25 years of mostly mediocre performances on the sacred court that The Bear once roamed.

I am also more excited about this season's UTEP men's basketball team than I have been in the last decade. The Don Haskins Center has a chance to roar again when the Miners take the court for their home schedule beginning next Tuesday night. The University is also aware of this and trying to help build the excitement level before their first huge home game on November 12th against NMSU. In fact, the school announced today that they created a new microsite to track the progress of tickets sold as they gear up for a packed DHC against the rival Aggies. #DEFENDTHEDON is a sweet looking website that includes a commercial for the Battle of I-10 on their YouTube channel.

I love the fact that it also shows the number of tickets which remain for the game. As I'm writing this article, 6,461 tickets are left for the NMSU game. This home and home should easily be the most hotly contested rivalry between the two programs in years. The Battle of I-10 showdown at the DHC is being billed as an "orange out". Maybe the best news for Miners fans is that UTEP has teamed up with Nike to produce both long and short-sleeve orange #DEFENDTHEDON t-shirts featuring Don Haskins and fans can purchase the shirts from a Nike Team Store web link which was announced today.

You can say what you want about UTEP marketing in past years, and most of the criticism is justified. However, the current athletic administration "gets it" and they are doing everything they can to create excitement about the men's basketball team before the start of Conference USA play. The Miners already defeated Texas Tech and Grand Canyon University in an exhibition game and "not so secret" scrimmage. I have been hyping this team up for more than a year now and the time has come for UTEP to finally bring back the glory of those great Miners teams. #DEFENDTHEDON is a step in the right direction and fans can hop back on this bandwagon before it's too late.

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