April 23rd, 2013
Andy Hipsher, son of head coach Dan Hipsher, is the new Broncs men’s basketball associate head coach, according to an announcement made Tuesday by the University of Texas – Pan American Department of Intercollegiate Athletics.
Andy Hipsher was previously part of the University of South Florida staff for the last four seasons. Hipsher spent the last two seasons as an assistant coach for USF and Director of Operations for two years before that.
Hipsher has experience as an assistant coach, having worked on staff with Hall of Famer Bob Knight and former UTPA and current Oklahoma University coach Lon Kruger.
“It’s an extremely unique opportunity to get to work with family in the profession that you love. It’s an opportunity that not too many people are fortunate enough to have,” Hipsher said in a statement released by the Athletic Department. “To go along with that, I think I’m working for one of the best coaches in the business. It’s a great situation, especially with UTPA joining the WAC and having the ability to make the NCAA Tournament.”
Hipsher’s teams have gone 153-137 (.528) in his nine seasons on coaching staffs.
Hipsher earned his bachelor’s degree in business management with a minor in entrepreneurship from Akron University in Ohio in 2003, where he also played basketball for his father. He went on to complete his master’s in business administration with a concentration in marketing in 2005 from Akron by way of Texas Tech.
“It’s always special to be able to work with family, but more importantly, Andy’s not just family, he has been fortunate to work for great mentors like Bob Knight, Lon Kruger and Stan Heath and has grown greatly from his experience,” Dan Hipsher said in a statement for the Athletic Department.
March 21st, 2013
Note: This story was edited post-production to correct factual errors
Former women’s basketball head coach Denny Downing was in Chicago for the Great West Conference basketball tournaments when he received a text message Saturday from Athletic Director Chris King. It asked the coach to return to campus for a meeting regarding the just completed season and the future of the program.
Downing said he felt uneasy because he believes a coach shouldn’t leave the road during recruiting season, and he planned on visiting Salina, Kan. for the women’s NJCAA tournament.
Come 8 a.m. Monday, Downing arrived at King’s office. King told him there was no easy way to do this, broke the news to him and handed over an envelope. The news inside was that Downing’s contract was not being renewed. After four years as women’s coach, he was out, and so was men’s coach Ryan Marks.
Downing was very unhappy with the decision, taken a week after the Broncs finished a 12-16 campaign with a semifinal loss to New Jersey Institute of Technology in their final GWC tournament.
“He said, ‘There’s no easy way to do this,’ but yes there is, just be a stand-up guy,” Downing said of the meeting with the Pan Am AD.
King held a press conference March 18 to address his decision to not renew the contracts.
“I want to wish both Coach Marks and Coach Downing the best wishes. I want to thank them for their efforts the past four years, as well as their assistant coaches,” King said. “Their hard work and dedication is appreciated, but at this time I felt as if after the Great West basketball conference championships it was time for a little interruption, pertaining to leadership…and move in a different direction in both basketball programs.”
The meeting Monday morning had been short and to the point. According to King, now is the best time to make the transition as the University moves to the more prestigious Western Athletic Conference July 1. The athletic director had the full support of the president, it appears.
“It’s was a very hard decision to make,” University President Robert Nelsen said about King’s decision. “I admire the coaches and what they have done and I have respect for King.”
Marks waited outside of the press conference Monday afternoon to give his thoughts on the situation.
“My math is not great, but I had a four-year contract and I knew it was ending,” said Marks, who won 39 games in four seasons after replacing Tom Schuberth in 2009; his club took 16 victories this season, an improvement of five wins over 2011-12. Of the 16-player roster, eight made the AD Honor Roll and four also earned Dean’s List honors, based on fall grades. “Again, if you look at our body of work on the court, what our kids have done academically, in my mind, it does seem like a bit of an odd decision.”
Marks also said King, who arrived in 2009, is a strong-willed AD who came to UTPA with an agenda. He and Nelsen facilitated the move to the WAC and have a vision for how they want the future to go.
“So I think more than anything, our vision of where we both wanted to go was very similar,” Marks said, speaking of King in particular. “But I think the paths and maybe the way we thought we would get there was different, and obviously he’s certainly entitled to have someone that he is comfortable with in the way they are going to reach those goals.”
However, Downing is concerned that the Athletic Department may be blinded by the WAC name, forgetting that it’s not the brand it used to be. It was a conference that used to be known for football before all the conference realignments, and is now reeling from the massive loss of most of its old schools.
“We still don’t have football, there isn’t a fraternity/sorority street row and we don’t have a marching band,” he explained. “Just because it’s the WAC and they can pay people lots of money, the pool of candidates is going to grow, but who knows if they’re going to like it here and enjoy it here. I hope they thought of that.”
PLAYING THE GAME
Downing claims he’s had a strained relationship with King for years now, even calling the AD a bully, and said he was surprised at Monday morning’s meeting because he said he still had one more year. And he thought he understood the situation between the AD and himself.
After completing his first season as the women’s head coach in 2010, Downing received a phone call from King, during which they discussed adding another year to the contract, according to the coach. But nothing was ever written or signed: it was just a verbal agreement, Downing said.
“We had a gentleman’s agreement and now he’s denying it. I’m even willing to take a lie detector test,” Downing said. “I was really surprised.”
Although King doesn’t deny that a conversation occurred with Downing, he added that the contract is still set to expire at the end of March and will not be renewed.
“I did look to add an extra year on to each contract a few years ago, but Dr. Nelsen said no because he wanted to familiarize himself with the personnel and the University before agreeing to any changes in contracts,” King said. “Dr. Nelsen said it could be considered in the future, but we never revisited the topic.”
On the other side of the spectrum, Jim Board is an active Bronc Athletics supporter and UTPA alum/fundraiser who said contracts are just part of the game. Although Board didn’t really know details about the decision, he said he was disappointed a little.
“It is what it is. There must be something that we don’t know about, behind the curtain,” Board said about King’s decision.
Board, a member of Pan Am’s 1964 NAIA runner-up team, understands that these types of decisions aren’t necessarily personal; it’s business, what the admins feel is best for the program. And he knows the coaches will do well wherever they go next and the University will move on to someone new, having to live with the decision.
As of now, Tim Anderson and LaToya Howell have become the interim men’s and women’s basketball coaches until replacements are found. However, the assistants’ positions are not guaranteed, according to King.
“It’s up to the next head coach whether they retain them,” King explained. “Most of the time head coaches want to bring their own assistant coaches in, but they do have the opportunity to try, and I will ask the head coach to interview each one of them.”
The search began immediately and King hopes it takes no longer than 30 days. The WAC will definitely be the selling point for candidates. The department will be unavailable for further comment until the new coaches are chosen.
“I really want to see us have what I would consider a CEO of a program,” King said. “Someone who’s a right fit to this department, the University, as well as this community.”
THEN AND NOW
Downing, who came to the area from Texas A&M-Commerce, stated that he has come to love the Valley. He said that the new Bronc coaches will face a drastically different situation than he and Marks did when they began.
UTPA has had trouble following the rules in the past, and is one of just four schools nationwide that have been on probation five separate times, three times since the 1990s. The latest stint of sanctions ended summer 2012. King knows that the job was tough for anyone to do.
“Particularly Ryan (Marks), with the probation that he inherited back in 2009 when he arrived as well, that was a tough situation so I commend him for that,” King added.
Marks said he believes in the old saying that one must leave the campsite better than he found it. He was aware of what he was getting himself into then and is proud for what he has been able to accomplish with the program.
Marks’ record has steadily improved since his first season at the University. His Broncs finished 2009-10 with a 6-27 record (.182), the 2010-11 season 6-25 (.194), the 2011-12 season 11-21 record (.344) and the 2012-13 season 16-16 (.500). This was the first time the men’s basketball program was at .500 or better since 2007-08. Overall, Marks’ record at UTPA was 39-89 (.304).
Downing’s overall mark to UTPA was 51-68 (.429), making him the winningest among current head coaches in all sports. His teams played .500 basketball in the GWC over that span.
“I was obviously hired by one group of administrators to meet those challenges and hopefully, I feel strongly, we did a good job of that. Now we have a new set of challenges,” Marks said about inheriting the suspension. “Obviously Chris King and Dr. Nelsen want to move in a different direction for that and I have to respect their wishes.”
March 18th, 2013
UTPA Director of Athletics Chris King announced Monday that neither men’s Head Coach Ryan Marks or women’s Head Coach Denny Downing will have their contracts renewed.
March 12th, 2013
Both the men’s and women’s basketball teams celebrated Senior Night, the last home game, and final regular-season game with wins.
The women kicked off the double header at 4:30 p.m. against conference rivals Chicago State University, winning 71-61 and clinched the No. 3 seed to advance directly to the semifinals of the Great West Conference Tournament against New Jersey Institute of Technology Friday.
The men went up against NJIT and, although the Highlanders had the early lead, the Broncs took it back going into the half and never let go. The men clinched the No. 2 seed going into the GWC Tournament and go up against No. 3 seed Chicago State Friday.
“Of course we want to win the conference – that’s our goal – and continue into the CIT tournament,” senior Ruben Delgado said. “As a team, we collectively executed offensively and played good defense.”
Leading the Lady Broncs was Cassandra Moody with a career-high tying 20 points on 9-of-14 shooting. Following her was Bianca Torre, with 18 points. KaeLynn Boyd scored 13 points while getting five assists and three steals, Joyea Marshall scored eight points with 11 rebounds and a career-high seven assists and Jasmine Gordon scored eight points with five rebounds.
From the men, three seniors had double-figure scores. Brandon Provost led with a game-high 24 points and was named GWC Player of the Week Monday. Aaron Urbanus followed with 18 points, six rebounds and seven assists. Jesus Delgado scored 10 points with three rebounds and three assists.
“You’re always going to set your goals high…but I felt we were successful at home,” Urbanus said about only losing two of the 13 home games.
Although it was Senior Night, there wasn’t an outstanding number of fans in the stands.
“It was tough because it’s spring break and everyone’s leaving,” said Urbanus. “I was glad my family was able to come out.”
Both teams will travel to Chicago to compete in the GWC Tournament Friday and Saturday in hopes of winning their final chance of being GWC Champions as they prepare to move over to the Western Athletic Conference.
“All the seniors played pretty well, so it’s pretty satisfying,” said Urbanus. “But we’re not done.”
December 6th, 2012
Last season’s second matchup against North Dakota Feb. 27 was broadcast on cable so fans could see the Broncs clinch the No. 2 seed for the Great West Conference Tournament.
Those who tuned in saw senior guard Aaron Urbanus getting pushed, trampled and even hit in the face with the basketball, but time and time again he got up and pushed through.
Being on the shorter end of the height spectrum in a sport known for its taller people doesn’t phase senior Urbanus much. In fact, he likes it.
“I’ve used (my height) to my advantage and when other people see me, they don’t think I should be playing,” the Bowie High grad said. And that just makes it easier for me because they underestimate me and then I can surprise them.”
During his Bronc career, Urbanus has started 70 of the 103 games he played in, totaling 2,737 minutes, as he has become a consistent team leader and sparkplug. But he still gets underestimated.
“(Players) probably don’t even mess with me in warm-ups because they don’t think I’m going to play, and then I wind up being the one starting, and then they start messing with me,” the 22-year-old kinesiology major said. “I like when people mess with me about (my height). It’s an extra little motivator, it’s fun.”
Urbanus may enjoy getting picked on, on the court; but Winter Texans who come out to the games during the holiday season take joy in rooting for the little guy.
“I get that a lot. I get the older group,” he explained. “They like to see the smaller guy, who doesn’t have much of an advantage go out there and, I guess, go against the
Senior guard Aaron Urbanus became the 22nd Bronc to join the 1,000-point club Nov. 24 during the home opener against Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville. Urbanus, 23, was able to reach the record with his first basket of the game, a three-pointer.
The coaches first told Urbanus how close he was to attaining the milestone while the team was playing the last game of the Eastern Michigan University “Ice Man” Classic in Michigan a week before the SIUE game. He started as a freshman and has been a productive part of the offense for four seasons now.
“Since we won, it’s easier for me to say it felt good. Even when they announced it, I couldn’t help but feel good about it,” Urbanus said after the SIUE game. “My coaches had told me during the tournament that I was close and a couple of them are actually happy that I didn’t get it then, so I could get it at home.”
LIVING IN THE VALLEY
When he arrived from the Capital City four years back, Urabus did not have to make that big of an adjustment. Having lived his childhood years in a predominantly Hispanic and African-American area of town, Urbanus recalled not feeling a sense of culture shock upon the transition to the Valley.
“Yeah I love (the culture), besides the fact that I can’t understand half the things a lot of the people are saying,” Urbanus joked. “I know when they’re talking about me – when they say güero or gringo.”
Although Urbanus may have trouble communicating in Spanish, his stomach doesn’t have any issues understanding the food here.
“There’s Tex-Mex and then there’s Mexican food,” Urbanus explained as freshman Noe Espericueta, an Edinburg High graduate, offered him a bite of bean, cheese, chorizo and egg tacos. “That’s good.”
Even though Urbanus loves the food from this area, the self-proclaimed taco fan hasn’t been able to experience many restaurants from the region. A lack of transportation causes him to spend more nights at home, cooking for himself and his girlfriend, one of his favorite hobbies.
When Urbanus first heard about the University all he knew and cared about it was that it was a Division 1 school.
According to him, basketball is his life and his one and only job at the moment. It’s what he’s been playing since he could walk and a sport he’s been working at for years.
“I mean, I’ve grown up and never really had a job and everybody always said, ‘Well, you don’t work,’” Urbanus said. “I had to work to get a scholarship, so my parents don’t have to pay for my college.”
At the start of his freshman year, Urbanus wasn’t the only new face. There were 10 new players, brand-new coach (Ryan Marks) and a new system.
“It was a bunch of people just trying to learn; learn a new offense, learn how we’re going to play and it was definitely tough,” he recalled. “Now being one of the people who’s experienced and having experienced people on the team, the coaches don’t have to do all the coaching. We can do it ourselves. It’s definitely made a difference and you can tell how much we’ve grown.”
Urbanus knows the Broncs will face some tough teams this season and shared the team’s goal of a 13-0 record at home and win as many games on the road and ultimately get the conference tournament ring. The first part of the goal is now unrealistic as the Broncs fell to UT Arlington 60-51 Dec. 3; their overall record is 2-6. Urbanus, averaging 12.6 points per game in his final go around, still has other big matchups and games to look forward to this season.
“I don’t think anything is going to be better than Senior Night,” he said about finishing his time here as a Bronc March 9 against New Jersey Institute of Technology. “Obviously I haven’t experienced it yet. I experienced it in high school, so I can imagine it’s going to be really fun, really emotional.”
December 6th, 2012
Career-high scoring by freshman forward Joyea Marshall and sophomore guard Jasmine Thompson carried the Broncs to a win against UT Arlington 59-57 Tuesday.
The Broncs (4-6) were led by Marshall, with a career-high17 points on a career-best 8-of-16 shooting with eight rebounds. Thompson also recorded double figures, 13 points, a career-high seven rebounds and a career-high tying three assists.
The Broncs struggled at the beginning of the game as the Mavericks took an 8-0 lead and kept the Broncs from scoring until the 16:12 mark.
UTPA rallied at the beginning of the second half, coming within 29-27. The Broncs later got their first lead, 37-35, with 13:24 left on the clock.
Bianca Torre sealed the deal with a three-pointer for the Broncs to take the win.
December 4th, 2012
Although the Bronc men’s basketball team left it all out on the court, they eventually lost to the UT Arlington Mavericks 60-51 Monday night.
Brandon Provost, senior guard, scored a game-high 18 points, hitting 5-of-11 shots, including 2-of-5 from behind the arc and 6-of-6 free throws.
After the Mavericks started on a 9-2 lead, Provost responded with two three-pointers and a jumper. After a Bronc 8-2 run, UTPA came within 11-10.
The Mavericks led by 14 twice and the Broncs got as close as five a few times, the last one at 3:35 remaining after Provost hit a pair of free throws.
The Broncs (2-6) will return to action Saturday at 2 p.m. against the Bobcats at Texas State.
November 22nd, 2012
Two weeks into the UTPA Men’s Basketball season, the Broncs will host the highly anticipated season home opener this weekend, Nov. 24, at 2 p.m. in the Field House against Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.
The University’s Department of Intercollegiate Athletics announced on Monday that fans who purchase a ticket for the Broncs game will be able to get a free ticket with a purchase of a ticket of equal or greater value to Saturday night’s Viper game. The same can be done with Vipers fans with tickets who would like to buy a ticket to the Broncs game and get one free.
This promotion will only be good for Saturday’s game and there will be no limit to the amount of free tickets that can be used to get into the Broncs game, granted the same amount is purchased.
The first 250 fans in attendance will receive free popcorn.
The Broncs (1-5) will also play home Monday against University of Texas at Arlington.