The start to the 2020-2021 basketball season went about as well as the UTPB men’s basketball team could have hoped. The Falcons are 2-0 thanks to a pair of victories over UT-Tyler to open Lone Star Conference play over the weekend.
Head coach Josh Newman highlighted the unique circumstances of playing the same team on consecutive days and credited the Falcons for coming out and taking care of business.
“It’s never easy to go on the road, particularly right now with not as much practice and preparation time,” Newman said during a Zoom press conference Monday. “But it was great to go and pull out two big wins.”
Among the biggest takeaways that Newman had regarding his team was the team’s defensive effort and balance.
The Falcons combined for 17 steals over the span of the two games, able to make some important plays in the 76-68 victory Friday and the come-from-behind 82-80 win Saturday.
“I thought our defense was fantastic in the first game,” Newman said. “In the second game, we really needed to some key stops and our defense was right where it needed to be and that allowed us to squeak out a victory on the second night.
UTPB also got strong efforts from guards Trevion Lamar, Jordan Horn and Jay Workman, along with others, in the victories. Having that depth and multiple options step up helped put Newman’s mind at ease.
He also credited Lamar and Workman as they get back up to game speed after coming out of quarantine. He said that he hopes to be back to full strength after Christmas break.
The Falcons have a busy week ahead, with home games against Western New Mexico on Tuesday followed by a doubleheader against Cameron on Friday and Saturday at the Falcon Dome. All games this weekend will be played without fans and Newman said that just provides another challenge to his team to be ready for whatever comes its way.
“We have to create our own energy,” Newman said. “We’re going to miss having all the Falcons fans, cheerleaders, the pom squad and The Flock. They really do impact the game and we’re going to have to bring that energy ourselves.”
>> MILESTONE VICTORY: Saturday’s victory over the Patriots was also a milestone moment for Newman. The victory gave Newman his 200th NCAA victory as a head coach and 270th overall at the collegiate level. When asked about the keys to his success, Newman said it was a “home run” question for him to answer.
“It takes really good players and assistant coaches,” he said. “In time, you start winning a lot of games and putting zeros behind them and I appreciate them more and know that they’ve impacted our program every step of the way.
>> TAKE TWO: The UTPB women’s basketball team will finally get its chance to open the regular season at 2 p.m. Tuesday against Western New Mexico after the Falcons’ scheduled series with UT-Tyler was postponed due to COVID-19 concerns.
Head coach Rae Boothe said that playing the game Tuesday against the Mustangs is exactly what she was hoping for so that her team can get game experience.
“I think it’s a challenge that we’re going to have to embrace,” Boothe said. “Hopefully, it only happens to us once but the likelihood is it’s probably going to happen repeatedly.
“I’m just grateful that we were able to find another game to play before we open with Cameron.”
Boothe added that the team had a productive weekend with practice and by scouting Cameron in its first two games of the season. She’s also looking forward to opening the season at home and being at full strength.
Boothe said Monday that sophomore forward Alexus Quaadman has been cleared to play in this week’s games and added that she would have not been available if the Falcons played this past weekend.
“We’re happy to be home and we’re undefeated right now and we love that,” Boothe said. “We have three games at home before the break so we couldn’t ask for a better situation this week with what we have.”
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