UTPA’s offense on the upswing - The Monitor: Sports

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UTPA’s offense on the upswing

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Posted: Monday, January 27, 2014 9:07 pm

The UTPA men’s basketball team has finally built a foundation for a successful offense. After weeks of poor execution and a lack of shot making, it appears the Broncs offense will be guided by the trio of Javorn Farrell, Shaquille Hines and Shaquille Boga.

Those three are the only Broncs to average double-figures in scoring, with Farrell leading the way at 16.1, Boga at 13.6 and Hines at 12.2 per game.

In the first few weeks of the season, it was Farrell and Boga doing most of the heavy lifting. Broncs coach Dan Hipsher knew he needed a third guy and Hines has delivered in conference play, averaging 15.3 points per game in WAC games.

Being able to finally have three guys he can trust to score the ball is a big relief for Hipsher and the Broncs. UTPA can now carve out an identity behind the trio.

“He’s getting tougher and better,” Hipsher said of Hines. “When you get good play out of those three guys that gives us enough to play through if they show up every night.”

The Broncs offense has been on the upswing, scoring over 70 points in their last three games after only reaching that mark once in the past month. Even in a loss to New Mexico State on Saturday, UTPA shot 45.8 percent from the field and hit 8-of-15 3-pointers.

Scoring against the Aggies in the loss has to be a good sign, considering the Broncs offense usually struggles against teams with size. Hipsher said he was hoping that his team would be able to knock down some outside shots against some bigger teams like New Mexico State.

Now it’s just a matter of doing that consistently. Even with the better offense, the Broncs are still 2-4 in the WAC and face an uphill battle in the standings.

“All these other teams have been playing together for a couple of years,” Farrell said. “This is our first year together. I feel like we’re clicking at the right time to make a good push.”

UTPA WOMEN KEEP ROLLING

A program that has been stuck in mediocrity since its existence is finally seeing some signs of life. UTPA women’s basketball isn’t known for winning, but coach Larry Tidwell is doing his best to buck the trend.

The Broncs have never had a winning season in the program’s history. After a win on Saturday against New Mexico State, the Broncs have their best 19-game start in school history. UTPA is 10-9 and 4-2 in the WAC.

UTPA has 10 games left and at least one WAC tournament game on its schedule. If the Broncs win six of those, UTPA will have its first winning season. Now tied for third-place in the WAC, just having a winning program might not be all the Broncs want. The ultimate goal is a conference championship, despite the past.

“This team has a chance,” Tidwell said after the win on Saturday. “If we play together, play smart and play defense we have a chance.”

BIG CHALLENGES

There’s no secret the UTPA men’s basketball team lacks size inside. The coaches and the players both readily admit it.

The key for the Broncs is overcoming that size disadvantage. That’s been hard for the Broncs so far, with two of their WAC losses being against two of the bigger teams in the conference in New Mexico State and Seattle.

Against New Mexico State on Saturday, the Aggies outrebounded the Broncs 36-25, including 10 offensive rebounds for New Mexico State. The Aggies also scored 38 points in the paint and had 14 second-chance points. That all added up to a 90-78 loss.

It isn’t anything new, Farrell said, and it’s just a matter of having the right mindset to attack and play with the bigger teams.

“It starts on defense and rebounding,” Farrell said. “We’ve got to play defense and crash the boards. Everything else will take care of itself. Making shots will be easier.”

jbowe@themonitor.com

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