ENMU squads battle East Central

Dave Wagner

Eastern New Mexico University’s basketball teams are glad to be home again, and they hope it helps them rediscover their winning ways.
Both teams are on losing streaks as they prepare for final crossover games against Lone Star Conference North teams at Greyhound Arena — tonight against East Central and Saturday against Southeastern Oklahoma.
Eastern’s men (4-9) bring a five-game losing streak — all away from home — into their clash with East Central (10-3), which may be one of the LSC’s most improved squads. Meantime, the Zias (6-7) have dropped six in a row dating to a 60-52 loss to St. Edward’s in their last home outing Dec. 10.
The Greyhounds and Zias have each played only three games at home, both going 2-1.
ENMU men’s coach Shawn Scanlan said the Hounds haven’t found a way to get a complete-game effort during their recent slide. In particular, he said, they’ve turned the ball over too much and haven’t defended well enough.
“We’re going to have to realize that we’re not a big-time scoring team,” Scanlan said. “Because of that, we have to defend well enough to make our offense work. We’re not keeping games manageable.”
ENMU has beaten East Central five times in a row, but the Tigers come in on a seven-game winning streak.
“I know that just from looking at their statistics they’re a vastly improved team,” Scanlan said. “It looks to me like the best team they’ve had, personnel-wise, in the six years I’ve been here.”
Meantime, Southeastern (8-4) is on a five-game winning streak.
“Most of their inside players return (from last year),” Scanlan said. “They’re a little different style of team (than East Central), but they’re a legitimately good team.”
The Zias have had chances to break through during their losing streak, but they’re finding it tough to come up with the necessary firepower.
ENMU led Central Oklahoma 29-15 in the first half on Saturday at Edmond, Okla., but eventually lost to the Bronchos 84-69.
“Hopefully, being back at home will give us a boost in energy,” Zias coach Dan Buzard said. “If we get a lead at home, maybe we can maintain it.”
He, too, is looking for a better defensive effort from his squad.
“We need to get better when it’s time to stop people,” Buzard said. “Eighty-four points is just too many (to give up).
“We’ve just got to be able to play 40 minutes. We’ve been playing in seven or eight-minute spurts, and that won’t win you games against quality people.”
Both Zias opponents come in just under the .500 mark, although Buzard noted that Southeastern in particular appears to be improved over recent seasons.
“We’re kind of looking forward to being at home this weekend,” he said. “Hopefully, it’ll be a little bit different story.”