By Dave Wagner, Freedom New Mexico
Picked for sixth in the seven-team Lone Star Conference South Division, Eastern New Mexico University men’s basketball coach Shawn Scanlan was confident when school began that the Greyhounds had the team to easily exceed that lowly expectation.
Now, though, the Greyhounds are fighting injuries as they prepare for Thursday’s season opener at Emporia State (Kan.). Saturday, the Hounds face Western New Mexico in the second-half of a doubleheader at Laguna-Acoma H.S., with the first game pitting New Mexico Highlands against Grand Canyon.
Junior point guard Marquis Ruffin (separated shoulder) may be able to play this weekend, Scanlan said, while senior forward Kendall Clark (fractured cheekbone) returned to practice Saturday and is being fitted with a facemask.
Two of the team’s primary big men, 6-foot-5 junior Jerry Prudhomme and 6-8 junior Tommy York, have undergone surgeries and are expected to miss the entire season. At best, the Hounds will have 10 players available.
“It’s a brand new team,” Scanlan said. “We have a lot of raw, young, talented, athletic kids.
“At some level, they’ll all have the opportunity to contribute.”
Only senior guard Justin Redman-Trotter (10.9 ppg), a second-team All-South selection last season, and senior guard Kevin Davis (5.2 ppg) return from last year’s squad which went 12-14 overall and 6-6 in the Lone Star Conference South Division.
“I know we’re kind of undersized inside,” Davis said. “We just all have to come together and make it happen.
“If Justin and myself set good examples as leaders, I think everything else will fall into place.”
Davis and Redman-Trotter will play mainly at the wing positions, along with junior transfers Jamaal McCoy and Chad Johnson. Redman-Trotter and Johnson will also spend time at the point guard position until Ruffin is ready to take it over again, Scanlan said.
Junior guard Quintin Askew, another transfer and the son of former NBA player Vincent Askew, will also help in the backcourt, including the point.
The interior positions will be manned by Clark, juniors Travis Cooper and Kenneth Ward and freshman walk-on Matt Churchman.
Scanlan admits some people will have to play out of position a bit.
“That’s our problem now,” he said of the inside positions. “We don’t have any naturals down there.”
Emporia State, which is scheduled to return the game in Portales next year, is ranked 23rd in the preseason NCAA Division II poll and has won 58 of its last 70 home games. The Hornets are coached by David Moe, son of former longtime Denver Nuggets coach Doug Moe.
In preseason exhibition games, the Hornets played Gonzaga to within four points in the first half before losing 101-70 and also lost at Texas A&M 85-73.
Davis said the Hounds are ready for the challenge.
“We know what we’ve got to do,” he said. “If we rebound the basketball and play good defense, I think we’ll have a chance to come out on top.”
15 — at Emporia State, 6 p.m.; 17 — vs. Western New Mexico at Laguna-Acoma H.S., 7 p.m.; 20 — New Mexico Highlands, 7:30 p.m.; 23 — at Colorado School of Mines, 7 p.m.; 24 — at Regis, 7 p.m.; 28 — Oklahoma Panhandle State, 7 p.m.
1 — Texas A&M-Commerce, 7 p.m.-y; 6 — at Northeastern State, 7 p.m.-y; 8 — at Central Oklahoma, 3 p.m.-y; 17 — at New Mexico Highlands, 7:30 p.m.; 30 — at Lubbock Christian, 1 p.m.
3 — East Central, 7:30 p.m.-y; 5 — Souotheastern Oklahoma, 4 p.m.-y; 10 — at Southwestern Oklahoma, 7 p.m.-y; 12 — at Cameron, 3 p.m.-y; 16 — at Texas A&M-Kingsville, 7 p.m.-x; 19 — West Texas A&M, 7:30 p.m.-x; 23 — at Abilene Christian, 7 p.m.-x; 26 — Angelo State, 7 p.m.-x.
2 — at Midwestern State, 7 p.m.-x; 6 — Tarleton State, 7:30 p.m.-x; 9 — Texas A&M-Kingsville, 7 p.m.-x; 13 — Abilene Christian, 7:30 p.m.-x; 16 — at West Texas A&M, 7 p.m.-x; 23 — at Angelo State, 7 p.m.-x; 27 — at Tarleton State, 7 p.m.-x.
1 — Midwestern State, 7 p.m.-x.
All times MST. x-Denotes Lone Star Conference South Division games. y-Denotes Lone Star Conference crossover games.
No. Name Ht. Pos. Yr.
4 Quintin Askew 6-3 G Jr.
14 Matt Churchman 6-4 F Fr.
20 Justin Redman-Trotter 6-3 G Sr.
21 Chad Johnson 6-3 G Jr.
22 Kevin Davis 6-3 G Sr.
23 Jamaal McCoy 6-2 G Jr.
24 Marquis Ruffin 6-3 G Jr.
30 Travis Cooper 6-5 F Jr.
32 Kenneth Ward 6-5 F Jr.
34 Kendall Clark 6-5 F Sr.
40 Jerry Prudhomme 6-5 P Jr.
42 Bryant Thomas 6-5 F Fr.
44 Tommy York 6-8 P Jr.
Head coach: Shawn Scanlan (8th year). Assistant coach: Marcus King. Graduate assistant: Jevon Mamon. Student assistant: Aaron Rodriguez.