Behind the Scene
by Randy Limbird
Editor & Publisher, El Paso Scene
As I write this, college basketball’s March Madness is reaching its Final Four weekend. The best part is all the stories of players and teams, especially the underdogs who beat the odds busting their way through the bracket.
But then there are the teams that didn’t make it, including the UTEP Miners. The men’s basketball team ended the season with a 15-17 record, but their story was dramatic as any team in the country. In early January they had sunk to a 2-13 record, having lost 12 in a row, including defeats by schools such as Northern Arizona and Northwestern (La.) State. Fans were waving “Fire Floyd” signs and ripping up their season tickets.
Then something happened. UTEP was playing at home Jan 12, falling behind at the half to Florida International, a team that shared the cellar in the Conference USA standings. The Miners tied it up at the end of regulation and two overtime periods later won by one point.
The Miners went on to win ten more conference games, climbing to third place in conference then beating Rice in the first round of the Conference USA Tournament. Their last game of this turnaround season was their second-round loss to Middle Tennessee — a team whose only conference defeat was by UTEP. Middle Tennessee went on to pull off a first-round upset in the NCAA Tournament before losing to Butler.
Congratulations to Coach Tim Floyd and all the Miners, especially Dominic Artis, the lone senior of the starting five. Thanks for giving us a great story this season — a story we hope will pick up where it left off when next season begins.
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The Men’s Basketball Team was just one of two El Paso feel-good stories I frequently shared this past month with my out-of-town family and friends. The other was the “Congressional Cannonball Run” road trip of U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke and his neighboring colleague, U.S. Rep. Will Hurd. An East Coast snowstorm cancelled flights to D.C., so the two West Texas congressmen from opposite sides of the aisle jumped into a rental car for a 1,600-mile race to get to the U.S. Capitol in time for the opening votes after spring break.
All 30 hours of the driving were streamed live via Facebook as the two young congressmen shared views ranging from healthcare and immigration to favorite music and fast food. The Facebook feed went viral, with as many as 7,000 people watching at any one time. The story made news across Texas, then spread to national media and even the BBC reported on it.
Why? Because despite their political differences, O’Rourke the Democrat and Hurd the Republican shared their cramped quarters inside the Chevy Impala with non-stop humor, respect and a common commitment to reach out to the public. It was the exact opposite of every story that’s been coming out of Washington politics. Maybe there was hope of bipartisanship after all — maybe not now, but eventually if politicians like O’Rourke and Hurd succeed in raising the standard of how to get along.
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Reader Pilar Munoz noticed a familiar mural we used in last month’s feature story about the Segundo Barrio. It’s titled the “Aztec Mask Mural,” she wrote in an email. The mural was created in 1975 by 17-year-old Arturo Avalos, with a crew of three other young artists. Avalos returned to El Paso a few years ago from California and now displays his artwork at the Pena Art Gallery in San Elizario.
Here's the Ticket
Southwest Art Scene
At the Museum
Keep on Bookin'
Copyright 2017 by Cristo Rey Communications.