Team preview: UTEP

Blue Ribbon Illustrated previews the 2004-05 college basketball season, exclusively on Insider.

Updated: October 20, 2004, 5:30 PM ET
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COACH AND PROGRAM

Don't be surprised if the red phone in Doc Sadler's new UTEP office is a direct line to Nevada coach Mark Fox.

Talk about landing in no-win situations, these guys are living proof.

Last year, under the direction of current Stanford head coach Trent Johnson, Nevada went where no Wolf Pack team had gone before – into the Sweet 16.

Not to be outdone, current Texas A&M head coach Billy Gillispie guided the Miners on the single-best turnaround in NCAA history.

With an RPI number of 301 and six victories to his credit in his first tour of duty, last year Gillispie led UTEP to 24 victories, an RPI of 46 and a first-round berth in the NCAA Tournament.

The Miners lost to ACC Tournament champion Maryland by a scant three points, leaving Sadler in a nasty fox hole – so to speak.

The former assistant to Gillispie beat out two other UTEP coaches for the coveted position. Once the head coach and athletic director at Arkansas-Fort Smith, Sadler inherits three starters from what many think is the best team in the WAC.

And the Miner faithful wouldn't have it any other way.

"Doc is a perfect fit for this basketball team,'' Gillispie said before departing for A&M.

"The kids love him because he puts his heart and soul into the job. He makes it fun for them. I believe he will take things to the next level and reestablish this program as one of the best in the country. Things are in good hands.''

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