By Dave Wagner: Freedom Newspapers
PORTALES — Chad Donnell will likely see his role expand for the Eastern New Mexico University men’s basketball team.
Injuries to junior forward Daniel Sherman (back) and senior guard Irshaun Pinckney (hairline fracture in fibula), have left the Greyhounds (6-7) shorthanded heading into their final Lone Star Conference crossover games at Southeastern Oklahoma tonight and at East Central on Saturday.
The two-time Lone Star Conference South Division champions start division play next week.
In addition, senior guard Jamal Washington has been at less than 100 percent coming off a staph infection following ankle surgery in early November.
For Donnell, a 6-foot-4 redshirt sophomore who played a season-high 22 minutes in Saturday’s 65-62 win over Northeastern State at Greyhound Arena, the injuries will move him into a regular inside role in a seven-man rotation.
“I’m always ready, but I think the team really needs me now,” said Donnell, averaging 1.9 points, 1.3 rebounds and just under 12 minutes in 10 games off the bench. “I’ve got some big shoes to fill, but I think I’m ready.”
With senior Jamaal Hunnicutt, the LSC South’s player of the week, on the bench with four fouls, Donnell helped contain NSU’s leading scorer, 6-foot-8 senior Shiloh Shores, as the Hounds escaped despite the absence of Sherman, Hunnicutt’s foul trouble and Pinckney’s injury early in the second half.
Two nights earlier, against Central Oklahoma two nights earlier where, Donnell never got off the bench because of the up-tempo nature of the game.
“I just take it game for game,” Donnell said. “If he (Scanlan) needs me, he’s going to put me in. I’m not concerned about if I play or not; I just try to be ready.”
Southeastern and East Central, both 9-4, are having breakout years after recent struggles.
“Both of these teams are coming up,” Scanlan said. “In East Central’s case, they’ve got a couple of new players that have helped them.”
Meantime, the ENMU women (5-7) are hoping to shake a four-game losing streak — the last three games without senior guard Laci Lee (foot injury), who will not play again this weekend.
Southeastern (1-12) is going through a tough year, although the Lady Savages have only played at home four times. They’re being outscored by 16 points a game.
ECU (6-6) had a five-game winning streak snapped last weekend in crossover losses at Angelo State and Abilene Christian.