By Dave Wagner: Freedom Newspapers
It hasn’t been that long — 2003 — since Northeastern State won an NCAA Division II men’s basketball championship.
The Redmen have fallen on hard times the past couple of seasons, going 8-19 last year and are off to a 3-7 started this year. Still. Eastern New Mexico University men’s coach Shawn Scanlan isn’t about to discount them as the squads prepare for a 7:30 p.m. tipoff today at Greyhound Arena.
“They’ve got some tough losses,” he said. “I’d say Emporia State (which beat the Redmen twice) is at about the same level as Central Missouri (a team which thumped ENMU 92-65 in late November).”
Women’s teams clash in the 5:30 p.m. opener.
While the Hounds (5-6) will be facing a team playing a controlled style tonight, they will see more of an up-tempo opponent in Central Oklahoma (7-3) on Saturday. The Bronchos have scored more than 80 points in five of their last six outings.
Right now, Scanlan is more focused on his team. The Hounds (5-6) dropped a 73-64 decision Friday to Lubbock Christian at home and have been up-and-down all season.
“Before we become concerned with the teams we’re playing, we have to figure out what kind of team we are,” said Scanlan, disappointed with his team’s 27 turnovers and 40 percent field-goal shooting against the Chaparrals.
Possessions figure to be at a premium against Northeastern State, which typically plays a deliberate style that milks the shot clock. Northeastern has been outscored by just 20 points over 10 games, and five of its losses have been by five points or less or in overtime.
“They keep the game close because of the way they play,” Scanlan said. “The thing is you know what you’re going to get when you play them. They do a good job of protecting their basket.”
Coming off a solid 73-61 win over Lubbock Christian, the Zias (8-3) are also facing opponents with contrasting styles. Northeastern State (7-4) has been hot of late, winning five consecutive games, while Central Oklahoma (6-5) hasn’t scored less than 63 points in a game this season.
“They’re both pretty good basketball teams,” Zias coach Linden Weese said. “We’re going to have to play pretty well this weekend.”
Weese said the Lady Reds are a balanced team that can hurt an opponent from the perimeter.
“They run a real good motion offense,” he said. “And they can shoot the ball pretty well.”
After this weekend, both ENMU squads will spend a lot of time on the road for the next few weeks. The Zias play seven of their next eight on the road while the Hounds are out of town for seven of the next nine.