One of the two or three best basketball teams in Texas, the UTEP Miners are on CBS now playing against Tom Pender's Houston Cougars. With John Calipari disciple Tony Barbee manning the opposing bench, the coaching mismatch in this game is stark, and eventhough UH is only down three as I type, so is the talent disparity. Other than Baylor this UTEP squad has more talent one through five than any other team in Texas.
This Miner backcourt of Randy Culpepper and Christian Polk is better than any combination of guards any University of Texas school has rolled out in the last two seasons. Randy Culpepper is the best guard to come out of El Paso since Tim Hardaway. His presence on the 2010 Texas Longhorn team would make Texas an instant top 10 club. I take him over Tweetie Carter based on hair style alone.
Culpepper's backcourt mate Christian Polk is a nice complement to what Culpepper does. Imagine that, players with skillsets that mesh. Both can shoot the ball from deep, and they're capable ballhandlers that can break down a defense.
In the frontcourt, the UTEP Miners have a couple talented players to finish what Polk and Culpepper start. Louisville transfer Derrick Caracter is a big body, but he also has a credible face up game from 15 feet out. The other post, Arnette Moultrie is a long forward that is a threat at the arc and a solid wing defender. They are plus rebounders that get the job done with different styles. Caracter is the bruiser inside that bangs his way to double digits rebounds. If you need a guy to carve out space and board he's your guy. He's Perfect weakside rebounder for the college game.
Moultrie is built like Anthony Jones of Baylor but he's stronger at this point in his career. He's also the perfect high/low complement for Caracter. The dude can ball.
If UTEP needs instant offense, the face up skills of the Miner frontcourt along with the ballhandling and terrific decision making of the backcourt allow Tony Barbee to go to the ballscreen game for easy offense. If they switched to the random screening offense, however, the Miners would be a solid favorite to take over the world and rule like Greek gods from the Franklin Mountains.
Speaking of Barbee and Greek gods, he's one of the games up and coming superstar coaches who won't be long for El Paso with this kind of career trajectory. But for now, don't bet against Barbee's Miners having a pretty long stay in the tournament. That's good news if you were counting on rooting for a team in Orange representing the University of Texas system.