ENMU guard: a coach on the floor

Dave Wagner

PORTALES — Eastern New Mexico University senior point guard Brent Cooper can think of no bigger assist than to pass along his knowledge of the game.
A two-year starter and steadying influence for the Greyhounds, Cooper said he’d like to be able to coach someday, probably at the high school level.
“I enjoy going to the sideline and talking to the coaches,” Cooper said. “I feel like it wouldn’t be right if I learned all this stuff and didn’t try to teach somebody else.
“I’ve been taught to know every aspect of the game, and the point guard should know every position. It’s like you have responsibilities — if the point guard plays hard, everybody else is going to play hard.”
ENMU (11-6, 1-1 South) begins a three-game homestand at 7:30 p.m. today against Abilene Christian at Greyhound Arena. Cooper believes Eastern has the talent to repeat as LSC South champs.
“Our potential is amazing, but it’s only potential,” the Mobile, Ala., native said. “To be a championship team, we need to get everything done. We’ve got to put it together now.”
Cooper spent two years in junior college at Faulkner State in Bayminette, Ala., about 30 miles north of Mobile, where he was a teammate of current ENMU post player Travazz Buckley. Although the team did well, reaching the regional semifinals his first year and the regional finals the next, Cooper wasn’t that heavily recruited.
ENMU coach Shawn Scanlan said he made contact with Cooper through a junior college scouting service.
“I think Brent was in a situation where he was a little overlooked,” Scanlan said. “Brent was going to give us a chance to have a point guard who had been coached and had played on a successful team (at the juco level). He was going to give us some experience and leadership.”
Scanlan said he has been pleased with Cooper’s progress. Although shooting a slightly lower percentage from the field than a year ago, Scanlan said Cooper’s overall performance has graded out higher.
Cooper has compiled a team-leading 63 assists with just 35 turnovers.
“He’s been exactly what he thought he could be,” Scanlan said. “He contributed to our success last year, and he’s given us a lot of stability at that position.”
One of ENMU’s priorities for next season will be finding at least one point guard. Since last year, Cooper and his backup, senior David Hamilton, have handled the position almost like a tag-team.
In fact, Hamilton has 41 assists and just 16 turnovers, giving the Hounds a 2-1 assist-to-turnover ratio for the season at the position.
“That’s the thing about Brent and David,” Scanlan said. “I think David’s got more quickness, and the pace of the game picks up when he comes in. But those two guys really complement each other.”
Cooper said Scanlan and ENMU assistant coach Mark Murdock have been good teachers.
“When I came here, I thought, ‘These people know what they’re talking about,’” he said. “They were talking championship, and that’s what I wanted to hear.”