Category: Men’s Basketball

Espinosa reflects on season

Espinosa reflects on season

By Julynne da Silva Sa
Bridge contributing writer
Published Monday, April 27, 2020

Coach Jeremy Espinosa took over coaching responsibilities for the men’s basketball team, following the absence of coach Joel Taylor. On the transition from assistant coach to calling the shots, he talks about the challenges he overcame in order to be seen differently by his players.

“The biggest challenge was changing the vibe of the team in a positive way,” Espinosa said. “At the same time not being too soft on the players. Creating that balance took time, but now it’s at a place where I can have fun with the players off the court and be strictly business once it’s time to get to work.” 

Before he started coaching, Espinosa played junior college ball in Oklahoma and finished his career at Newman University, in Wichita, Kansas. He described his coaching career as a “roller coaster,” moving through winning and losing seasons. It also took him places where those experiences helped expand his coaching knowledge.

“I have learned to take losses as opportunities to grow and be better,” he said. “I have also learned how to be a professional in winning.”

Since he took the reins, the team dynamics changed. He thinks the team adapted well and shows it through hard work as they transform efforts into wins. 

“I felt like it took the guys a little bit to get used to a different dominant voice,” Espinosa said. “In games, I see that they really want to play hard for me, which means a lot. Now we have to translate playing hard into winning games and figuring out how to win games together.”

Calvin Fugett, a junior from Denver, says Espinosa’s character helped the team build chemistry and learn how to work together. He thinks this opportunity showed the coach’s passion for the game but also his care for his players.

“Coach E is a very caring and hard-working coach,” Fugett said. “We can see that he wants the best for his players on and off the court. He’s a fun guy, and a very family oriented person.” 

He is not the only teammate with a positive opinion on Espinosa’s work. Freshman Adrian Nosa of Madrid, Spain, also feels confident about his coaching performance.

“Coach Espinosa works really, really hard and really cares about us,” Nosa said. “He always makes sure that we all feel good with whatever situation we are in. He’s definitely made me feel more comfortable playing basketball and he brings confidence to the team.”

The Dustdevils experienced a season of ups and downs. They continued working and making adjustments as the season continued on. Espinosa believes even though they won few of their games, the season was full of learning experiences for the team.

“It’s been a great year even though the scoreboard doesn’t always show [that],” he said prior to the end of the season. “I appreciate the hard work that the guys bring to the table. I plan on finishing this season strong and build some great chemistry leading into next season.”

The 2019-2020 season ended for both men’s and women’s basketball teams during the annual Senior Night event. With Taylor’s resignation from coaching at TAMIU, the spot opened up for applicants.


Dustdevils fall to Rattlers

Dustdevils fall to Rattlers
Espinoza: ‘It’s all about heart’

By Angela Carranza
Bridge Staff Writer
Published March 30, 2020

The Dustdevils men’s basketball team came up short against the Rattlers on Feb. 8, after losing 70-77 in overtime. Despite losing, the team holds optimism.

Texas A&M International University started the game on a high note against St. Mary’s University. The first half of the game was undeniably close with neither team obtaining a two-possession lead.

After the intermission, the score between both teams stayed close. Shortly after, the Dustdevils began to build points and took their first lead since the early half with the scoreboard at 43-41 and 12 minutes left in the game. Slowly, they began to build the lead to 60-53 with only 6:44 left to spare.

Matthew Balderas | TAMIU Athletics File
Tom Higgins drives the ball in this undated file photo. He scored 14 points against the Rattlers.

St. Mary’s rebuked the thought of losing, so they tied the game at 65-65 with 25 seconds to spare, causing the game to go into overtime.

In overtime the Rattlers scored 7, which placed them in the lead at 72-65. The Dustdevils refused to fall without a fight, which proved difficult because foul trouble and free throws kept them from advancing points.

St. Mary’s ultimately took the win with a final score of 77-70.

After the game, there was a sense of defeat in the TAMIU bleachers and the basketball team, but assistant coach Jeremy Espinoza looked optimistic while talking about future games and about how he felt overall about the game.

“I’m just really proud of our guys overall,” Espinoza said. “…we’re going to focus on a lot of team building, team bonding and building chemistry [between] each other. At this point of the season, X’s and O’s don’t really matter. At the end of the day, it’s all about heart, it’s all about sacrifice and it’s all about mentality.”

Since that game, TAMIU athletics announced the new coach for 2020 to 2021: Rodney “Mac” McConnell.

McConnell will bring in almost two decades of experience to the basketball program next season.

TAMIU’s scoring leaders, tied with 14 points each, included: Tom Higgins, Jorge Mejias-Sanchez and Caleb Highley.