By Dave Wagner
Shawn Scanlan figured that from a standpoint of possible injuries, his Eastern New Mexico University men’s basketball team had all its bases covered coming into the season.
But as the two-time defending Lone Star Conference South Division champion Greyhounds prepare to open their 2004-05 season with a 7 p.m. contest against Lubbock Christian today at Greyhound Arena, Scanlan left to ponder a rash of physical problems for his squad — particularly in the backcourt.
Junior point guards Reggie Wallace (sprained ankle) and Jolen Montoya (lower quad) and senior off-guards Irshaun Pinckney (ankle) and Jamal Washington (staph infection) are all listed as no better than questionable for the opener.
“We’ve just been hit pretty hard in one area of the floor,” said Scanlan, whose team went 20-9 (10-2 South) and lost to Northwest Missouri State in the opening round of NCAA Division II regional competition last March. “I thought we came in two-deep in just about every position, and that we could rotate people if we had to.”
Wallace, a 5-foot-9 transfer from Mt. San Antonio (Calif.) College, was listed as “questionable to doubtful” for tonight by Scanlan. He said Montoya, a 5-9 transfer from Neosho County (Kan.) CC, appeared to have a better chance of playing.
Pinckney, a 6-2 senior from Clovis entering his fourth season at ENMU, has been nursing ankle injuries during the season but should play. Washington, though, will probably be out for the early part of the season after developing the infection in his surgically-repaired ankle.
Junior college transfer Billy Austin, who played his high school ball in Hobbs, could be pressed into duty at point guard with the team’s injury situation, Scanlan said.
Meantime, LCU has traditionally been a solid NAIA team and usually provides a quality test for the Hounds.
“We’re fighting a lot of injuries,” said senior forward Edmound Elzy, one of four returning regulars from last year’s squad. “We’re just trying to work hard in practice until we can get people back.”
Along with Pinckney, Elzy and Washington, the Hounds return 6-foot-5 senior forward Jamaal Hunnicutt, who led the team in scoring (12.6) and rebounding (8.8) last season but is coming off a broken leg sustained in the regional tournament game.
Scanlan said Hunnicutt has returned to “about 80-85 percent” of his pre-injury capability.
“He’s not the athletic presence he was before,” said Scanlan, who has gone 59-51 in his first four seasons at ENMU. “I think he’ll get there, but he’s not there yet.”
Pinckney and Washington both averaged more than eight points last season, while Elzy averaged just over four.
Elzy, though, said he knows it’s not his offense which will get him court time.
“I know I can score,” he said. “I’m just going to have to play better defense than I did last season.
“We’ve got plenty of talent; we started out deep, so that’s what we can still handle (the injuries). We’ve got a lot of new players and we just have to get used to playing together.”
Newcomers who could help at the inside positions are juniors Jason Breland and Daniel Sherman, like Wallace transfers from Mt. San Antonio, and Mikal Monette, who transferred from the University of New Mexico after seeing limited duty in two seasons with the Lobos. Chad Donnell, a 6-4 sophomore who played sparingly last season, could add some depth.
The Hounds were picked to win the LSC South title again in the conference’s preseason poll, and Scanlan concurred with that assessment.
Of course, that was before the injuries hit. He said several teams are unknown commodities, and the race could be wide open.
“I think we’re potentially a pretty good team, but it’s a long ways from potential to actual performance,” he said. “I would say there are three or four teams in this (division) that are completely new.
“Preseason picks don’t really mean much. The only payoff is when the games are played.”
No. Name Pos. Ht. Yr. Hometown
4 Reggie Wallace G 5-9 Jr. Pasadena, Cal.
12 Jolen Montoya G 5-9 Jr. Cordova
20 Jamaine Francois G 6-3 Fr. Rio Rancho
21 Jamal Washington G 6-3 Sr. Pomona, Cal.
22 Irshaun Pinckney G 6-2 Sr. Clovis
23 Aaron Rodriguez G 6-1 So. Roswell
24 Billy Austin G 6-2 Jr. Hobbs
30 Jason Breland G 6-5 Jr. Los Angeles
32 Mikal Monette F 6-6 Jr. Albuquerque
34 Jamaal Hunnicutt F 6-5 Sr. Amarillo
40 Daniel Sherman F 6-7 Jr. Chino Hills, Cal.
42 Edmound Elzy F 6-5 So. Victorville, Cal.
44 Hunter Hise F 6-7 Fr. Kermit, Texas
54 Chad Donnell F 6-4 So. Frankston, Texas
RS Eric Sandoval G 5-9 Fr. Santa Rosa
RS Wade Elliott G 6-0 Fr. Moriarty
RS Ean Forrest G 6-0 Fr. Fort Worth, Texas
Head coach: Shawn Scanlan. Assistant coach: Mark Murdock. Graduate assistant: Omar Lowery. Student assistant: Brad Holland. 2003-04 record: 20-9 (10-2 Lone Star Conference South, 1st).
18 — Lubbock Christian, 7 p.m.; 20 — at Adams State, 7 p.m.; 26-27 — at Washburn tournament (26 vs. Fort Hays State, 5 p.m.; 27 vs. Washburn or Lincoln, 5 or 7 p.m.).
2 — Cameron, 7:30 p.m.-y; 4 — Southwestern Oklahoma, 4 p.m.-y; 8 — Oklahoma Panhandle State, 7 p.m.; 11 — at Tarleton State, 7 p.m.-y; 18-19 — at Las Vegas (Nev.) Invitational, TBA; 30 — at New Mexico State, 7 p.m.
6 — Central Oklahoma, 7:30 p.m.-y; 8 — Northeastern State, 4 p.m.-y; 13 — at Southeastern Oklahoma, 7 p.m.-y; 15 — at East Central, 3 p.m.-y; 20 — Texas A&M-Commerce, 7:30 p.m.-x; 22 — Midwestern State, 7 p.m.-x; 24 — at West Texas A&M, 7 p.m.-x; 29 — at Texas A&M-Kingsville, 3 p.m.-x.
3 — Abilene Christian, 7:30 p.m.-x; 5 — Angelo State, 7 p.m.-x; 10 — at Abilene Christian, 7 p.m.-x; 12 — at Angelo State, 7 p.m.-x; 17 — at Texas A&M-Commerce, 7 p.m.-x; 19 — at Midwestern State, 7 p.m.-x; 21 — West Texas A&M, 7 p.m.-x; 26 — Texas A&M-Kingsville, 7 p.m.-x.
All Times MST. x-Lone Star Conference South Division games. y-LSC crossover games.