EDINBURG — He might not get the attention of a Brandon Provost or an Aaron Urbanus, but Jesus Delgado is still awfully important to what the UTPA Broncs do.
“I just try to do little parts of everything, whatever I can,” said Delgado, a senior guard, who is in his second season with the Broncs. “I just don’t like to do one thing.”
Delgado came to the Broncs last season after two years at Cochise Community College in Arizona. UTPA was the lone Division I school to offer him a scholarship, and despite the fact that he could never play in the NCAA Tournament, Delgado wanted to go D-I. He didn’t want to go D-II or D-III.
That’s why he’s at UTPA, and coach Ryan Marks is happy he’s here.
“He was like this on his junior college team and he’s really developed into this for us,” Marks said. “He’s a guy who helps you find ways to win.”
Delgado, who’s started all 19 games this year, is averaging 8.6 points per game. He often gets saddled with the toughest defensive assignment, and on offense, has improved his play on the perimeter — both as a shooter and a penetrater.
“My strength is getting to the basket,” Delgado explained. “I’m playing with a lot more confidence.”
Earlier in the season, Marks was consistently tinkering with his frontcourt lineup, trying to see what combination worked.
At this point, he’s got his answer.
“I think it makes it a little more easier for the players,” the fourth-year coach said. “They’ve each found their niche or their role with this particular team.”
Since Dec. 13, that’s meant Justin Leathers and Lauri Toivonen start the game in the frontcourt and Rueben Cabrera comes off the bench.
Cabrera, who started some games earlier this season and last season, has embraced the role as a not-your-typical-sixth man.
“He’s really found a comfortability in that role,” Marks said. “He’s a great mismatch guy.”
The rest of the pack — which includes Hurley Johnson, Shaquille Hines, Jamal Dantzler, Josh Cleveland and DeMarko Nash — each get about a five minute run per half. Sometimes more, sometimes less. But they all know where they stand on the team and what their role is by now.
So does Toivonen. But that doesn’t seem to affect him.
“I don’t think it makes a lot of difference,” said Toivonen on whether he starts or comes off the bench. “Not for me. For me, it’s not a big deal.”
BACK AT HOME
“Well first, it’s tough being on the road,” Delgado said.
That it is.
After about a month of playing mostly on the road, the Broncs are finally back home and can finally get on some kind of a normal schedule and normal routine.
That, more importantly, means more practice time and more time in the weight room. Also, classes started again this week. So there’s that.
“At least for me, I have classes where I have to be present,” Toivonen said. “It’s pretty important for me.”
The Broncs can now get in the routine of playing one or two games per week, with Great West Conference games coming generally on the weekend and whatever non-conference game they can find coming at some point during the week.
Things will be much more consistent next year in the Western Athletic Conference, but for now, considering the depleted state of the GWC, the Broncs will take what they can get.
“We have about the volume of games we would like over the next two months,” Marks said.
Todd Orodenker covers UTPA Athletics for The Monitor. You can reach him at (956) 683-4431 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.