Because of final exams, UTEP hadn't been able to practice with a full team for about a week before the Georgetown game.
"I might not hold another full scrimmage the rest of the season," Haskins says. "We spent a lot of time doing two-on-two and three-on-three drills, and that might be a better way to practice, anyway."
Swingman Johnny Melvin (14 points, 11 rebounds, six assists and three steals) and forward David Van Dyke (11 points, eight rebounds, four blocks and three steals) made major contributions against Georgetown, but the victory probably meant more to UTEP's Henry Hall, a 6'1" sophomore guard from Washington, D.C., who originally committed to Georgetown.
After signing with Georgetown, Hall decided he didn't want to attend school so close to home. He took a year off and worked with his father in the trucking business. Former UTEP player Jim (Bad News) Barnes saw him at a summer-league game and encouraged him to consider the Miners. "I went for a visit, and the first day I was there, I knew it was the place for me," Hall said. Against the Hoyas on Saturday, he was a big reason for the Miners' success, scoring 12 points and dishing out six assists.
One of the best Christmas tournaments in the country is the women's Super Shootout, to be played Dec. 29 and 30 in Hilton Head, S.C. It features defending NCAA champion Stanford, as well as Texas and Tennessee—Top 25 squads—and Ohio State. That's a group even the women's Final Four will be hard-pressed to match.
But though the competition promises to be topflight, the tournament location is curious. The games will be played at the Hilton Head Island Recreation Center, a tiny gym that seats about 450 and has an 84-foot court, 10 feet shorter than the standard recommended by the NCAA. The teams receive very little for showing up, aside from the chance to play each other. There are no financial guarantees, no travel or hotel expenses, not even complimentary tickets for the players and coaches. Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer estimates it will cost her school at least $10,000 to participate. And that doesn't include $160 from her own pocket for tickets for her family.
"I've never had to pay to get tickets to an event I was coaching in," VanDerveer said. "This isn't meant to be critical of the tournament, but this whole thing is really frustrating. [The women's] game is growing in attention and popularity, and this tournament has some of the teams that draw the best crowds, yet here we are playing in a crackerbox gym. In some respects I feel like we're taking a step in the wrong direction."
So why did the teams agree to play? "The [island] is wonderful, and the competition couldn't be better," said Texas coach Jody Conradt. "When you're invited to a party and the company is good, you don't complain about the food. And it's not like there are that many options, if you want to play on a neutral floor. We haven't reached the point yet where we can easily attract a sponsor or get a great financial deal to put on a tournament."
The desirability of a neutral court notwithstanding, the Shootout's field would probably have drawn crowds of 7,000 to 25,000 at Tennessee, Texas or Stanford. Instead, the Super Shootout will be the best tournament that hardly anyone saw, evidence that the women's game still doesn't command the attention it deserves. It should also be a reminder to the women that if they don't do a better job of packaging and promoting their best teams, things are going to stay that way.