Cowboys Hoops Returns to El Paso for 2018 Sun Bowl Invitational
EL PASO, Texas – Rodney Terry bid farewell to the Mountain West Conference, resigning as the head basketball coach at Fresno State recently to take over the job at UTEP.
He will, however, still have an opportunity to matchup with Wyoming in the coming season.
The Cowboys will join UTEP, East Tennessee State and Norfolk State in the 57th Annual WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational Dec. 21-22.
The four-team tournament includes two top-100 (RPI) teams from last season -- Wyoming (98) and East Tennessee (92). The Cowboys also have a strong history with UTEP when the two teams were rivals in the Western Athletic Conference.
East Tennessee State is making its first appearance in the oldest collegiate holiday basketball tournament in the nation. Wyoming is making its second appearance. The Cowboys played in the touranment in 2007, splitting two games. Norfolk State returns for a third time, having advanced to the title game in 2015. UTEP has hosted the tournament since it's inception in 1961.
The North Dakota State Bison defeated the UTEP Miners 63-51 in the championship game of the 2017 WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational.
“This tournament has become a tradition and the history of teams and players that have come through El Paso is tremendous,” Sun Bowl Association Executive Director Bernie Olivas said. “Our basketball committee, which is led by Barry Kobren, continues to seek out and work towards bringing quality teams to the Don Haskins Center and El Paso.”
The tournament was renamed to honor former UTEP head coach and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer Don Haskins in 2009. “The Bear” coached at UTEP from 1961 to 1999, winning 719 games and making 14 post-season appearances. Haskins famously led the Miners to victory in the 1966 National Championship game over Adolph Rupp and the heavily favored Kentucky Wildcats.
ABOUT THE 2018 TEAMS
East Tennessee State
Head coach Steve Forbes enters his fourth season with the Buccaneers. East Tennessee State has won 76 games and compiled a .724 win percentage in his first three seasons. Forbes holds the 14th highest win percentage among current NCAADivision I head coaches.
ETSU is a member of the Southern Conference and has made 10 trips to the NCAA Tournament, and won 22 conference championships in program history.
The Buccaneers are coming off a 25-win campaign in 2017-18, including a 16-game win streak, which tied a program record. The Blue and Gold also tied a program record with 11 true road wins a year ago.
ETSU boasts one of the nation’s longest three-point streaks, making at least one three-pointer in 963 consecutive games, the seventh-longest active streak.
Norfolk State Spartans
Head Coach Robert Jones is preparing for his sixth season. The team is 87-82 in his five seasons as head coach, including 58-22 in the MEAC.
Norfolk State was 14-19 overall last year, 11-5 in the MEAC.
The Spartans tied for 4th in the league standings in 2017-18, the first time in 7 years they did not finish 3rd or better.
The Spartans set school records last year for 3-pointers (254) and 3-point field goal % (35.9)
The Spartans ranked in the top 60 in the nation last year in turnovers forced, rebounds per game and field goal % defense.
Head Coach Rodney Terry was appointed the 19th head coach in program history on March 12.
Terry posted four 20-win seasons in the last five years as head coach at Fresno State, leading the Bulldogs to the 2016 NCAA Tournament.
The Miners return four key players from the 2017-18 season:senior forward Paul Thomas (8.1 ppg/5.4 rpg), junior guard Isiah Osborne (9.4 ppg), and sophomore guards Evan Gilyard (9.1 ppg) and Kobe Magee (4.5 ppg). UTEP also introduces a talented group of incoming freshmen including forward Kaosi Ezeagu, guard Nigel Hawkins and center Efe Odigie.
Head Coach Allen Edwards (Third Season) has won 20 or more games in his first two seasons as head coach.
Wyoming is led by First Team All-Mountain West Player Justin James.
The Pokes will play their first game in El Paso since 2008 when UW played in the Sun Bowl Invitational.
The Cowboys have hit over 300 three pointers in each of the last three seasons.
Wyoming has had two of its all-time top three scoring seasons in two seasons under Edwards.