By Dave Wagner
Eastern New Mexico University men’s basketball coach Shawn Scanlan is trying to get the Greyhounds back to the form which has delivered back-to-back Lone Star Conference South Division championships.
They still have a ways to go, he said.
ENMU takes a 3-5 record into the High Desert Classic this weekend in the McDermott Physical Education Center, on the campus of the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. The Hounds meet Pittsburg State (7-0) on Saturday and St. Mary’s (7-3) on Sunday, with both games set for 3:15 p.m. (MST) starts.
While the Hounds expect to get senior Jamal Washington (staph infection) and junior Daniel Sherman (sprained ankle) back from injury, Scanlan said they should be challenged in both games.
He wasn’t pleased with his team’s overall play in Saturday’s 70-52 LSC crossover loss to Tarleton State at Stephenville, Texas, noting that the Hounds were outrebounded 37-26 and had problems with turnovers (17).
“We haven’t put together a full ballgame yet,” Scanlan said. “We don’t play hard enough for long periods of time to beat good teams.”
Senior guard Irshaun Pinckney, who led the Hounds at Tarleton with 16 points, said the team hasn’t meshed to this point.
“We’re far from where we want to be, but we’re getting closer,” he said. “I think it’s a matter of the new guys and the older guys getting used to playing together.”
The Hounds led Tarleton by four points early in the second half before the Texans took off on a 14-0 run. Guard Rich Francis sparked TSU (5-1) with 19 points off the bench, including 17 in the second half when he went 5-for-5 from 3-point range.
“We play like we practice, and we haven’t been a good practice team,” Scanlan said. “A lot of things which had caused us problems in recent games came up again (at Tarleton).”
Hopefully, the addition of Washington and Sherman will help. Washington, one of five players back from last year’s squad, has not played this season after contracting the staph infection following ankle surgery in early November, while Sherman has missed the last three games.
Pinckney said the size factor hurt against Tarleton.
“We were really undersized in the post,” he said. “The height was the big difference.
“There have been some games where we’ve been undersized in the paint, and Daniel’s a big space-eater. And J-Dub (Washington) is a very skilled player; his knowledge of the game will help a lot.”
Each team in this weekend’s 18-team event will play both Saturday and Sunday. Tarleton, West Texas A&M and Northeastern State will also represent the LSC in the event.
The Hounds will fly out of Amarillo on Thursday and return after Sunday’s game. Scanlan said family members of the team’s half-dozen California players will be able to drive in and see them play.
“It’s kind of a reward for the players,” Scanlan said. “It’s one of the nicest trips we’ll take, and we’re playing in a great field of teams.”