While trying to gather as much information on the Butler-UTEP matchup I turned to a man who knows a thing or two about the Miners. Bill Knight, a writer for the El Paso Times, kindly took some time out of his busy schedule to answer some questions about the Miners and Bulldogs.
What's the feeling in El Paso on drawing Butler in the first round?
UTEP, first and foremost, is just excited to be in the tournament. UTEP coach Tony Barbee grew up in Indianapolis and is obviously very familiar with the long history of Butler basketball. Certainly, UTEP is expecting a very difficult game and the Miners know Butler is a good basketball team. The UTEP group has been a very confident group all year, winning 16 straight before losing to Houston in the tournament finals and winning seven straight on the road.
When the Miners are playing their best basketball how would you describe them?
When UTEP is playing its best basketball game, it is a very fast-paced, scrambling team. Like Butler, UTEP has four players averaging in double figure scoring and the Miners have a fifth player averaging over nine points a game. UTEP is big — Derrick Caracter, 6-foot-9, Arnett Moultrie 6-11 — start and 6-11 Claude Britten and occasionally 6-11 Wayne Portalatin come off the bench. They occasionally press and love to get up and down the floor offensively.
When the Miners are struggling how would you describe them?
When UTEP is struggling, they are turning the ball over and not rebounding well. The Miners are also not a good free throw shooting team — even though they are a very good shooting team.
How would you describe Randy Culpepper's offensive game?
Randy Culpepper is one of the best athletes to play at UTEP in recent years. He is 6-feet tall (many say he is shorter, but I think that is because he has a slight frame; think he really is 6-feet) and lightning quick. He has great explosions, great leaping ability. He has been on Sports Center's Top 10 plays five times over the last two seasons with his huge, tomahawk dunks. He is a scorer. When he gets going, he can make 3's from NBA range. I have seen him make 10 or 12 3-pointers in a row in shooting drills, miss one and then make another 10 in a row. Great stroke.
How much does Derrick Caracter weigh REALLY?
I always list Derrick Caracter at 280 and I think that might be pretty close. He weighed a little more last spring when he was sitting out but worked hard in the summer and off-season, spending time in the weight room and conditioning. He weighs almost as much as he weighed last spring but it is muscle weight now. Let's just say he is a big, big individual and when he walks up behind you he brings shade; like an eclipse.
How do you see this game playing out?
Should be a great basketball game. A lot of talented players on the floor. Butler was 12-1 on the road and UTEP won its last seven on the road so a neutral setting should not bother anyone. There is a question mark on NCAA Tournament experience. But, in the end, it will come down to the usual basics — whoever makes shots, whoever rebounds, whoever takes care of the basketball.
We'd like to thank Bill for taking time out of his schedule to answer these questions. To read more from Bill Knight and get a better view from the West-Texas seats visit www.elpasotimes.com/sports