For the third year a row, Eastern New Mexico University plans to kick off the basketball season with its version of “Midnight Madness” tonight at Greyhound Arena.
ENMU assistant events director Jessica Robertson said the festivities will start around 11 p.m. She said activities include a 3-on-3 “tournament” of four teams representing ENMU football coaches, the Silverados dance team, the faculty and the women’s soccer program, plus an ice cream eating contest.
Robertson said a pizza party will be awarded to the largest spectator group attending the event.
The teams will be introduced around midnight. After a men’s slam dunk contest and 3-point shooting competition involving both teams, each squad will conduct a short intrasquad scrimmage.
Men’s coach Shawn Scanlan and women’s coach Dan Buzard think they’ve added some impact players.
“We’re looking forward to the start of the season,” said Scanlan, whose team was the surprise of the Lone Star Conference last season with a 20-8 record, including an 11-1 mark to win the South Division title. “The biggest void for us is that when you lose the (South) player of the year, and we don’t feel like there’s an automatic replacement for a Cedric Palmer.”
Scanlan said the team will also miss the graduated Kevin Iverson and Randy Johnson.
Johnson has continued his college athletic career this fall as a graduate student on the football team. “Randy Johnson was a great leader and gave us a certain mental toughness,” he said.
The Greyhounds have about a half-dozen players back, though, including South defensive player of the year Garland Coleman and second-team All-South selection Jamaal Hunnicutt. They’ve added three junior college players — wings Kennis Green and Jamal Washington and forward Edmound Elzy — who should step in and help, Scanlan said.
“We’ve put (the players) through the ringer in (preseason) conditioning,” Scanlan said. “All of us are ready to get down to starting the season. I think we have a good group.”
The women’s team is confident it will improve on last year’s 7-20 mark, Buzard said, although the Zias have already lost a couple of players.
Junior forward Tia Doss is likely out for the season after rupturing an Achilles tendon, while sophomore guard Jennifer (Roberts) Strebeck of Texico has opted not to continue playing. Buzard said freshman post Shani Rasco of Muleshoe, who has been dealing with diabetes, won’t play while 6-foot-5 freshman post Britni Rogers sustained a hip injury early in conditioning and may not be able to play.
Former ENMU volleyball player Courtney Wallenborn, who has used up her eligibility in that sport, is out for basketball and could give the Zias some additional help in the post.
Still, Buzard remains optimistic.
“We’re really ready to get started,” he said. “I think we’ve had a good preseason. We’re not as big as we thought we’d be, but as far as being competitive and having depth I think we’ll be all right.”