Eastern New Mexico University men’s basketball coach Shawn Scanlan knows his team has work to do before the regular season opens next week, but he said the Greyhounds have a lot to build on from Monday’s exhibition against New Mexico State at the Lea County Events Center in Hobbs.
ENMU stayed close to the Division I Aggies much of the night before NMSU pulled away with a game-ending 12-1 run for an 87-65 victory.
“I was encouraged,” Scanlan said Tuesday. “Our energy level was good. We graded out pretty well in all the effort categories.
“I thought our effort was good enough to position us to have a chance (to win). There were technical aspects of the game that weren’t very good.”
ENMU trailed 42-33 at halftime and pulled to 54-48 with 14 minutes left. The Hounds outrebounded the Aggies in the second half after getting dominated on the glass in the opening 20 minutes.
Senior guard Tristan Largent scored 19 points for ENMU, while seniors Mikal Monette, Donald Young and Stephen Wilson added 10 points apiece.
Scanlan was concerned about his team’s 28 turnovers, compared with only five assists, and the fact the Hounds shot 36 percent from the field.
“We had pretty good (scoring) balance, but we shot the ball poorly,” he said.
Second-year NMSU coach Reggie Theus echoed Scanlan’s sentiments about his team. Of particular note, the Aggies had 25 turnovers — 20 of which the Hounds turned into points — and only 11 assists.
“Overall, I was pleased with the effort, (but) not so with some of the technical things,” Theus, a 13-year NBA standout primarily with the Chicago Bulls and Sacramento Kings, told the Las Cruces Sun-News. “The mistakes are correctable.
“I didn’t anticipate us playing well because this was our first game, (but) we’ll get better. We have an unselfish team.”
Both teams were without key players — forwards Tyrone Nelson (broken hand) and Hatilla Passos (knee) for the Aggies, and junior guard Dwight Collins (back spasms) and junior forwards Kendall Clark (broken leg) and Rece Hampton (ineligible) for ENMU.
Scanlan said he hopes Collins, who was injured on Sunday, will be available when the team opens Nov. 17 against Western State (Colo.) in a four-team weekend tournament at Greyhound Arena. Scanlan said Clark, injured last spring, is making progress and is “week-to-week” while Hampton, a transfer, is likely to miss seven games before becoming eligible next month at the semester break.