Home » Columns » Currently Reading:

El Paso

November 7, 2002 Columns No Comments

A Mess for the Miners

by Kevin Reilly

A coach resigns five days into the preseason. The basketball program at a major school left leaderless mere weeks before opening night. How do things play out? Can there possibly be a happy ending?

Coach Jason Rabedeaux has left The University of Texas- El Paso claiming personal and family issues. He came to El Paso three years ago replacing the legendary Don Haskins.
Haskins coached 38 years at UTEP and won a national championship at the school when it was known as Texas Western.

His first season was a smashing success winning 23 ballgames and garnering a post season bid. The honeymoon ended quickly and in his third campaign just last winter the Miners stumbled and finished with a school record 22 losses.

“When you replace a legend, you are usually getting a pretty good job” stated Rabedeaux upon his hiring three years ago. I am not sure that he would share that same opinion now.
In addition to losing games , he lost players from his squad as well as a key recruit.
UTEP was picked last in this year’s preseason conference coaches poll.

The departing mentor has a young family. As a former coach and a family man myself,
I can feel for him but the timing of such a move is very poor. Why couldn’t this announcement have come a month or so earlier at least? Rabedeaux himself was hired in September 1999 and had only 6 weeks till the preseason commenced.

In defending his former protege Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson stated, “There are a lot more important things than college basketball.” I agree with Sampson one-hundred percent, but trying telling that to the disgruntled UTEP faithful.

After the ill-timed departure, The UTEP administration scrambled and has now settled
on Billy Gillespie, a 43 year old, University of Illinois assistant.

They had pursued famed alum Nolan Richardson, among others, but why would a big timer step in now? This will be a tough run for Gillespie but as a first time Division I
head coach his motivation can not be questioned.

The school’s hierarchy has to be complimented for giving Gillespie a multi-year deal
on hopes of solidifying the future, and most importantly displaying strength for it’s
recruiting efforts. An interim tag on one of the assistants would not have gotten it done.
Reportedly there are five scholarships available at season’s end.

Gillespie is Texas though and through. He played college ball at Southwest Texas State, was a high school coach in central Texas and was an assistant at Baylor.

The new coach has said all the right things, so far. He has given the current assistants a vote of confidence to continue on. His former boss Bill Self, the head man at Illinois, has unselfishly backed his candidacy. Self and Gillespie worked together at WAC rival Tulsa.

So far so good…Right?

How about the players? How do they fit in? That remains to be seen as the year unwinds.
Will the old assistants be team players? Only time will tell.

There is one issue keeps popping up in these situations. A coach can up and leave at any time without any penalty but if a player seeks to leave a program, he will have to sit out a year before playing at another D-I school. These players were recruited by Rabedeaux and now must play for Gillespie. Upon his hiring Gillespie stated, “We are going to have so much fun.”

Let’s hope so, for him and most importantly his players. But remember, at this level Fun is all about Winning .


Comment on this Article:

Subscribe to Hoopville

Enter your email address to subscribe to Hoopville


Hoopville Archives

College Basketball Tonight

We hope you enjoyed COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT during the 2016 NCAA Tournament. COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT is a comprehensive look at the NCAA Tournament hosted by veteran college basketball broadcaster Ted Sarandis, along with co-hosts Mike Jarvis and Terry O'Connor, both former Division I coaches. It also included many great guests, including Hoopville's own Phil Kasiecki.

The show aired on AM 710 WOR in New York City on Sunday evenings starting with Selection Sunday and running through the NCAA Tournament.

Here are links to the shows:

March 13, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 20, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 27, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

April 3, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

Coaching Changes

The coaching carousel is moving. Keep track of the latest coaching changes right here on Hoopville.

Everybody Needs a Head Coach

Former college basketball coach Mike Jarvis has a new book out, Everybody Needs a Head Coach.

"As you read this book, I hope that Coach Jarvis' experiences inspire you to find your purpose in life."
-Patrick Ewing, NBA Hall of Fame center

"Mike Jarvis' is one of my special friends. I am so pleased that he has taken the time to write this fabulous book."
-Mike Krzyzewski, Five-time NCAA championship head coach, Duke Blue Devils

"In reading this book, I can see that Mike hasn't lost his edge or his purpose. Readers should take a look at what he has to say."
-Jim Calhoun, Three-time NCAA champion, UConn Men's basketball

Review on Hoopville coming soon!

Hoopville Podcasts

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – April 26, 2018

April 27, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, we spend a lot of time looking at what the Commission on College Basketball came up with, as their report was just produced. We also look at the NBA Draft and transfers, which have many rosters potentially in flux for next season.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – April 6, 2018

April 6, 2018 by

In our first podcast in the postseason, we look back one more time on the NCAA Tournament, which was just what we needed at this time. We also look at the NIT, CBI and CIT, as well as important transactions with players leaving early for the NBA Draft and coaching changes.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – April 3, 2018

April 3, 2018 by

The 2018 national championship is in the books, and with it another season of college basketball. We break down the national championship game and some of its implications to wrap up the season.

College Basketball Tonight – April 1, 2018

April 2, 2018 by

Welcome to our Final Four edition of College Basketball Tonight. In this edition, we look ahead to Monday’s national championship game, and bring on two guests – long-time Villanova radio play-by-play broadcaster Ryan Fannon and Radford head coach Mike Jones – to get their thoughts and insights on the game.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – April 1, 2018

April 1, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, we break d own the national semifinals, where one game went back and forth while the other was never really a ballgame thanks to an impressive performance for the ages by the winning team.

Phil Kasiecki on Twitter

Recruiting Coverage

Lincoln captures Hamilton Park title

August 15, 2017 by

For the first time, a public school won the Hamilton Park Summer League, and they were led by a big effort from a junior point guard in the title game.

Notes from a day at the 2017 Boston Shootout

June 12, 2017 by

Some news and notes coming from the second and final day of action at the 2017 Boston Shootout, where the host program provided plenty of talent, but so did a program that produced a team that beat them.

Notes from a day at the 2017 Northeast Hoops Festival

April 11, 2017 by

The Northeast Hoops Festival helped bring in the new spring travel season in New England, and we have notes from some of Saturday’s action.

2016 Boston Back to School Showcase notes

September 12, 2016 by

We look back at the 2016 Boston Back to School Showcase, where a couple of Boston City League teams were among the most impressive on the day.

2016 Hoopville Spring Finale championship recap

June 28, 2016 by

We look back at the championship games of the 2016 Hoopville Spring Finale, which had a big local flavor as one might have expected.