PORTALES — Travazz Buckley made a big impact in his Eastern New Mexico debut.
After not playing in a college basketball game for about a year, the ENMU junior learned Friday morning that he had gained his academic eligibility in time to make the trip with the Greyhounds for Saturday’s contest against Incarnate Word in San Antonio.
He responded with 21 points and a team-high 11 rebounds in Eastern’s 91-89, four-overtime victory over the Crusaders.
Despite picking up his fourth foul late in regulation, and the fact he was starting to run out of gas, Buckley was able help Eastern win its third-straight game.
“I was cramping up a little bit, but I didn’t say anything to coach (Shawn Scanlan),” Buckley said. “Jamaal (Hunnicutt) had fouled out, and I knew if I made a stupid foul we would probably lose the game.”
The 6-foot-6 forward transferred to ENMU at the semester a year ago after playing junior college ball at Faulkner State (Ala.). A native of Slidell, La., near New Orleans, Buckley had practiced with the Hounds most of the fall. But because of the Thanksgiving break and the fact the team had been on the road for several days in early December, he hadn’t practiced much in a couple of weeks.
“I was excited,” Buckley said. “When I first got in the game I had little butterflies, but once I made my first basket I was OK.”
Scanlan wasn’t sure he’d have Buckley for the game. While he completed his finals on Thursday, instructors were not required to post grades until Monday.
“I talked to all of my teachers, and they worked with me (to get grades officially posted),” he said.
Eastern (5-3) faces Oklahoma Panhandle State at 2 p.m. today (MST) in Goodwell, Okla., in its final outing before a short holiday break.
Prior to Saturday, Buckley’s claim to fame at ENMU was breaking a backboard with a resounding dunk in one of his first practices.
“That’s not the first time I’ve done that,” he admitted. “I did it once in high school.”
Scanlan hopes Buckley’s type of athleticism can make the Hounds a more explosive team. He was glad to have Buckley against UIW, especially with 6-5 junior Edmound Elzy sidelined with an ankle injury.
“There’s no question he has the potential to bring us a physical, athletic type of presence,” Scanlan said of Buckley. “Hopefully, he can do that on both ends of the court.
“He’s a different kind of player than anybody we’ve had since I’ve been here. The potential for him to give us those things is certainly there.”
Scanlan hopes Buckley’s physical style will provide a balance inside with the 6-5 Hunnicutt, who is more of a finesse player.
“I think the two of them can complement each other,” he said. “Because they have different styles, I think they can help make each other better.”
Buckley is anxious for that to happen.
“He (Scanlan) told me, ‘I understand that you have to get back into the game,’” Buckley said. “But he said, ‘You’re back now, so we’re just going to take it from there.’”