By Dave Wagner: Freedom Newspapers
Eastern New Mexico University men’s basketball coach Shawn Scanlan participates in the Lone Star Conference’s preseason poll every year, but he admittedly doesn’t put much stock in it.
“I couldn’t tell you a half-dozen names of players who’ve signed with other schools, with maybe one exception — Tarleton State,” said Scanlan, entering his sixth season at ENMU.
The Greyhounds were picked fifth in the seven-team South Division. After winning back-to-back titles in 2002-03 and 2003-04, ENMU struggled to a 9-18 record (2-10 South) last season.
Meantime, last year’s division champions on the men’s side — Texas A&M-Commerce in the South and Tarleton in the North — have switched divisions, and both are favored to captured division titles again.
“Truthfully, without much question, those two teams have the greatest number of returning players,” Scanlan said.
ENMU’s women were picked sixth in an eight-team South Division. Abilene Christian is favored over defending champion Angelo State in the South, while three-time defending champion Northeastern State earned the top spot for the North women.
Scanlan said he thought the Hounds, with a squad made of mostly new faces, were treated reasonably in the poll.
“You’re not happy to be ranked fifth,” he said. “But is it a reasonable place for us (to be picked)? I think it is.”
With practice having started Friday, the Hounds are trying to put things in place as they prepare for a preseason scrimmage against Midland (Texas) Junior College on Oct. 28 at Texas Tech’s United Spirit Arena in Lubbock.
“We’re still trying to learn about each other,” Scanlan said. “By the end of the first week we’ll have an idea, but it’s something that could change over time.”
ENMU women’s coach Dan Buzard also said his team was about where he expected in the poll. Of course, he’s hoping for better things with returning players from last year’s 13-14 squad (7-7 South) such as senior forward Tiana Bryant and junior guard Heather Brown along with the return of Texico junior Elizabeth Richards, who sat out last season.
“Elizabeth will make an impact,” Buzard said. “She’s working hard and playing well.
“I feel like we’ve got pretty good depth and a team that can compete with the top teams in our conference. We’ve got a deeper team than we’ve had in the past, and it’ll give us a little more of a chance to rest Heather instead of having to play her 38 minutes (a game).”
The Zias have a scrimmage Oct. 28 against Howard (Texas) Junior College — coached by former ENMU men’s coach Earl Diddle — at Lovington High School.