Tim Floyd

UTEP head basketball coach Tim Floyd watches his team during the second half of an NCAA basketball game against Arizona Friday, Dec. 19, 2014 in El Paso, Texas. (AP Photo/Victor Calzada)

Western Kentucky won't be the only basketball program in Conference USA working with a number of new pieces.

As Tuesday's first round of interviews from the C-USA basketball media days highlighted, many teams around the league are in the same boat as the Hilltoppers, who welcome 10 newcomers into the fold.

"We have a whole new roster," Charlotte first-year coach Mark Price said via teleconference. "We had to bring in eight new players this year. Trying to mix in that many new guys and learn a new system and a new coaching system, and everything that goes along with it, we're just day by day trying to improve as a team and develop some chemistry that will hopefully allow us to compete once we get out on the floor."

Price is one of two new coaches in Conference USA along with Louisiana Tech's Eric Konkol.

One of the league's second-year coaches, Marshall's Dan D'Antoni, has a major senior leader in all-conference forward Ryan Taylor.

But the Thundering Herd are still young with two seniors, three juniors and 11 underclassmen. They're trying to continue some momentum from the end of last season, which included six straight home wins in conference play.

"We have eight new players," D'Antoni said. "We have some leadership that we didn't have last year and a little bit of experience, but a lot of what Mark was talking about, we're still experiencing. We're very young. ... We're still putting a lot of it together, our ballclub here."

Another second-year coach in the league is Rice's Mike Rhoades.

The Owls were projected before last season to finish at the bottom of the conference, but they picked up the pace late in league play and salvaged an 8-10 C-USA record.

"I think your expectations always grow the longer you're at a place," Rhoades said. "Just knowing the environment, the players, how things work from the school to the athletic department to the conference, you just feel a little more familiar with everything and a little more confident."

A former VCU assistant under Shaka Smart, Rhoades came to Rice hoping to install a fast-paced approach similar to that of the Rams.

But Rhoades said the Owls still have to get deeper to play that way consistently, and that means getting his new players - including six freshmen - on board.

"Our freshmen, I'll be honest with you, were absolutely shellshocked about how hard it was to do that, but they've done a great job with the upperclassmen of buying into it," he said.

Most of the five coaches represented Tuesday struggled in conference action a season ago.

North Texas, Rice, Charlotte and Marshall finished ninth through 12th, respectively, in the league standings in 2014-15.

But the one coach who spoke during the first round of media days and didn't struggle last year was UTEP's Tim Floyd.

The Miners went 22-11 and 13-5 in C-USA. They finished third in the standings, directly ahead of WKU.

But as was Tuesday's theme, UTEP finds itself with more new players than returners.

"We had a rough offseason," Floyd said. "I've often said nothing good happens in the offseason."

In addition to graduating Julian Washburn and C.J. Cooper to graduation, UTEP star forward Vince Hunter declared for the NBA Draft after his sophomore season and was not selected.

The Miners also lost sophomore guard Omega Harris to a grades issue and junior center Matt Willms to a foot injury.

They'll be depleted in the post, but Floyd said he hopes he has enough firepower in the backcourt to make it work. That includes transfer guard Dominic Artis, a former starter for Oregon on the Ducks' 2012-13 Sweet 16 squad.

"If your backcourt is good, and we hope that it's going to be, it can certainly carry you a long way in this game," Floyd said. "For us to be a good team this year, our backcourt is going to have to be one of the top two or three backcourts in Conference USA."

Floyd was asked to pick a dark horse for the Conference USA race and struggled to land on just one team.

He noted that Middle Tennessee brings back a slew of players and suggested that Louisiana Tech's downswing has been exaggerated. He also said a team like Florida International could jump into the mix because of a great post player like center Adrian Diaz.

But more than anything, Floyd said it's difficult to predict who will "make that great jump with a brand-new team."

"The thing about our league is you really don't know," Floyd said.

The C-USA media days continue through Thursday. WKU coach Ray Harper will speak Wednesday afternoon.

The league's media days by teleconference are running concurrently with each school's official media day on campus.

— Follow Assistant Sports Editor Zach Greenwell on Twitter at twitter.com/zach_greenwell or visit bgdailynews.com.