Aug 28, 2013
UTEP Coach Tim Floyd met with the media on Wednesday afternoon at the Foster Stevens Center and discussed the Miners' 2013-14 schedule, roster and other items. Here is a transcript of the press conference.
On the 2013-14 Schedule
"The highlight of our schedule is we're probably playing in the highest ranked multi-team holiday event in the country out in the Bahamas. We will open with Tennessee and then play the winner or loser of Xavier and Iowa. On the other side of the bracket you have USC, Wake Forest, Villanova and Kansas. So if people are sitting around thinking about what they want to do for Thanksgiving, maybe they want to plug in and try to get to the Bahamas and watch a great, great tournament."
On Other Elements of the Schedule
"We have a new Pac-12 opponent on the schedule. We're replacing Oregon with Washington State. We signed a new four-year contract with Washington State. We're going to open in Pullman this year. They'll be back in El Paso the following year when Arizona will return to El Paso. And the following year we will probably be in Seattle playing Washington State, then they will return here for the fourth year. Colorado State, a team that has been to back-to-back NCAA Tournaments, will be in El Paso next year along with New Mexico State who is going to have another very fine team, probably another NCAA Tournament team. They have a lot of their guys back from a tremendous team a year ago. And then there are the new teams in our conference. And who knows what those teams bring. I'm not as familiar with them as I'd like to be. We've tried to spend some time in preparation this summer on some of the new opponents we're going to be seeing. I think it's always interesting to bring new teams into a league. We'll have an opportunity to play in the only 16-team league in the country and see all those teams one time. It should make for an interesting race."
On the Conference USA Tournament Returning to El Paso
"I think the best event in college basketball often times isn't the NCAA Tournament in terms of excitement, but conference tournaments. We're going to host the conference tournament in El Paso this year. We're excited about hosting it because it gives our city a chance to put its best face forward."
On the Early Part of the Schedule
"I think six of our first eight opponents should be very, very difficult. I thought we played the strongest non-conference schedule in the country a year ago where we had 19 teams that were ranked in the top 100 the previous year. The problem with that is we had a lot of young freshmen like Twymond Howard who did not get many minutes. This year six of the first eight games are going to be severe tests early, but we do hope to get some of our freshmen extended minutes in some of these games because we are counting on a lot of these freshmen to improve."
On Facing New Orleans, Where He Used to Coach
"I have done that before when we were at Iowa State and we stopped in and played UNO. One of my former assistants is the head coach at Loyola, and I'll look forward to seeing Mike Giorlando and his team when they roll in here as well. It's always fun to travel down memory lane again. The UNO coach, Mark Slessinger, has done a great job post-Katrina where they had to reshuffle the deck."
On the New-Look Conference USA
"Coaches are creatures of habit for the most part. When you have a lot of returning coaches and teams in a league it makes for a smoother road in terms of preparation. This year it's going to be completely different. We have so many new teams coming in here, new logos, new mascots, new colors. And I think that will be exciting for our fans."
On Playing 21 Home Games
"I would rather have 21 home games than 21 road games. Let's see if we can't get our head up this year and get it going. Let's see if we can carve our way into getting back into national prominence, which is always our goal. We don't know what our shortcomings are at this point. I guess if you had to look at it, it would probably be the backcourt with the loss of Konner Tucker and Jacques Streeter. We're still looking for reinforcements with eight days left before guys can enroll. We'll see what happens."
On When the Team Will Start Practicing
"They're giving us some leeway with that this year. We really have not discussed it as a staff yet. My guess is it won't be Oct. 15. It will be earlier than that. What the NCAA has done is given us 30 days to practice prior to the start of our season, and you can carve those days out however you want after Oct. 1. The idea is to give guys and players more of a break and more free time and not cram it all into a tight schedule."
On How Challenging this Summer Has Been With Roster Turnover
"I think it has become the norm in college basketball. Tulsa lost five players a year ago. Rice lost six players a year ago. Tulane lost six players this year. Texas, I think lost five players this year. DePaul lost six. It's just the norm. It has really become an epidemic and it's sad. But I'll tell you one thing, I like the players that we have and the character of the players we have. I think that can carry you a long way. We'll have a 12-man roster. All you can carry is 13. The 12 that we have, we have a nice blend of experience and youth. I like the youth that we have. I really like the incoming freshmen that are here. They have really had a great summer. They have had a great fall already in terms of their work ethic. And who knows, maybe we're going to surprise some people this year."
On Which Freshmen Have Stood Out
"I would not exclude any of them. I really like Matt Willms who was here a year ago. He's 25 pounds stronger than he was last year. He's 7-1 and that's a great place to start. We have Vince Hunter at 6-8 who was ranked in everybody's top 25 in the country. He has had an outstanding preseason. Probably the guy I have seen in the gym more than anybody else is Jake Flaggert. I don't know how many lists he was on. All I know is he can shoot it, he's 6-6 and he's an athlete. He loves basketball and he's in the gym. Josh Brown is our other freshman, a little 5-10 guy out of Los Angeles. They're all going to have a wonderful opportunity. We've got some nice experienced players coming back. I think the loss of a couple of these recruits will provide opportunities for other players."
On Which Players Will Be Leaders This Season
"I think you get out to practice and you figure that out. We'll start practice in October and we'll probably have a better idea about that after we've gone through some adversity over the course of the season. I think that's when some of those things tend to play out."