COLLEGE NOTEBOOK: Falcons regroup after road trip

UTPB men’s basketball coach Josh Newman said that things weren’t going to be any easier prior to his team’s trip last weekend to Texas A&M-Kingsville.

The doubleheader against the Javelinas marked the beginning of an eight-game stretch straight against Lone Star Conference teams that are either ranked or receiving votes in the Division II coaches poll.

And after getting swept by Texas A&M-Kingsville, Newman said that there’s plenty of things to address.

“I felt like we packed everything but our offense and we left it in Odessa,” Newman said during Monday’s virtual press conference. “Unfortunately, when your offense isn’t going, the defense has got to be a little more tight and we just weren’t tight at certain times.”

Newman said that he believed his team played well enough defensively at times against the Javelinas and attributed that to still not being at full strength at point guard.

The Falcons did get a bit of help in that regard, though, as freshman Zack Selvage made his season debut Friday. He played 15 minutes Friday and 17 Saturday and the next steps are about getting him up to speed despite his limited practice time

“He did show that he is quicker than quick and that he can get by guys,” he said. “As time goes on, I think he’s going to develop into a really good player.”

Newman also got to see what players like freshman forward Quinntez Grimes can do in a different spot. Grimes finished with 17 points and nine rebounds over the span of two games and played extended time in the low post, something that Newman said was effective even though it hadn’t been practiced much.

“I think we’re just polishing it and still trying to figure it out, honestly,” he said. “We’re getting close but we’re still looking back in the mirror and it’s giving us different images right now.”

The next matchup isn’t any easier for UTPB as it plays West Texas A&M this week. The teams will meet Thursday in Odessa before traveling to Canyon Saturday.

And after a 6-0 start, the Falcons are looking to snap a three-game losing streak.

 “Outside of those elite teams, every team goes through a phase where they have to figure out some things that are really hard,” Newman said.  “The teams that figure it out faster come out of that valley and those don’t that don’t stay there. The question for us is how soon can we crawl out of that valley.”

>> MOVING FORWARD: The UTPB women’s basketball team now has a chance to catch its breath after a busy stretch of five games in eight days.

The good news for the Falcons is that they picked up their first conference win of the season Friday.

For head coach Rae Boothe, the most encouraging takeaway was that her team answered the challenge with playing with more consistent effort “significantly.”

“I would describe us prior to Friday as a lazy team,” Boothe said. “I’m always honest with the girls and I think they can look in the mirror and say that we’re not playing very hard.

“We had a great film session on the way to Kingsville and I think we learned a lot there where we can see that this is not the identity that we want to have.”

That was the sentiment that Nokoia White echoed as well.

“After the losses that we did take and we did take a look back at what we did, I think we know what it feels like when those puzzle pieces come together and that everybody has something to give,” White said.

Junior forward Kim Best added: “After Friday’s win, I think we kind pieced more of it together and we got more confidence into giving our full effort.”

Up next for UTPB is a weekend series against a top opponent in West Texas A&M. The series begins at 5 p.m. Thursday at the Falcon Dome before traveling to Canyon Saturday.

 The Falcons have not defeated the Lady Buffs since 2014 but Boothe said that she is confident that her team will be up to the challenge presented ahead of them.

“This group of young women is really strong and I know I’m fully confident that they’re ready for to see what we look like now that we have a little bit of confidence and I feel like we learned a lot over the last eight days.”

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