Joe Golding has been putting his fingerprints all over the men’s basketball team and Dinner at the Don is a creation of Joe’s work. This was a nice evening getting know the players, listening to Jim Senter, Joe Golding and the special guest speaker, Tim Floyd.
The evening began with visiting with supporters of the men’s basketball program. As the evening progressed, players sat at each table and for 30 minutes, players were spending a few minutes at the tables while the supporters was getting to know players and coaches. Asking questions, lots of laughter, fun and some bonding were part of this event. 15 players, 9 returning players, 6 new players and new coaches were part of this met and greet.
Tim Floyd, ex-coach, friend of Don Haskins and one of the biggest El Paso fans, got up and shared his thoughts. Tim shared stories of Don and his early life at UTEP…. I cannot do the story justice to share in this article. To say the least, it was a classic Don Haskins Story.
Tim did share that is he not a fan of the “portal”. I am not sure that any coach loves the portal. He asked the players, “How many of the top NBA players changed schools during their college years?” None of the players nor the fans knew the answer. The only player to change teams was Larry Bird. This was because of helping his family through a tough time and he went to Indiana State when he went back to school. Tim shared that the coaches #1 job was to get players to do what they don’t want to do…. But this gets them where they want to go. Quitting and going to another team does not solve all issues. No one wants to dive on the floor for a loose ball, but to win, it has to be done.
“Listen to your coaches because they give a damn, they actually care.” Tim stated. Tim warns player not to listen to those around them. Go to class, be in the stands and dive for the lose balls is more advise Tim gave to the players.
Tim went to practice and he loved what he saw. Tim got really serious and state, “What I saw was the players were listening to the coaches. They were focused. Great teams have an identity and I saw that today in practice. Guard the basketball and do not beat yourself is what this team’s identity is.”
El Paso fans understand basketball. They will not like the players that are full of themselves. The fans in El Paso will give you a standing ovation if you dive on the floor for a lose ball. El Paso is a hard-working community and expect the players to work just as hard. They know the game. They have seen the best. They expect you to be the best.
Tim finished with gratitude for being invited. “If I was not here, I would be at home watching the Weather Channel. The other day I went to Wal-Mart and walked around for about 30 minutes. The next day, I went to Target and walked around.” Although Tim may be retired, I do not see him being bored at home.
UTEP Men begins their season on November 9. This year will be exciting as Joe Golding begins his rein.
Article by Bill Coon