By Dave Wagner
PORTALES — Dan Buzard and Dustin Klafka have been named Eastern New Mexico University women’s basketball co-coaches for the 2005-06 school year, ENMU athletic director Mike Maguire said Wednesday.
Buzard was a longtime Zias assistant before taking over the program when Wayne Moore retired after the 2001-02 season. He coached the Zias for two seasons, but was sidelined last year after being hospitalized in July for a cancerous brain tumor.
Klafka stepped up from his assistant’s role to serve as acting head coach and guided the Zias to a 13-14 record, including a 7-7 record in the Lone Star Conference South Division.
Moore returned for one season to help out. Maguire said graduate assistant Haley Anderson will be back for a second season next fall.
“They had a good year considering they had some personnel losses,” Maguire said. “(Buzard and Klafka) seem to work well together, so we’ll see what happens.”
Buzard is still trying to regain most of his eyesight, but said other than that he feels pretty good.
“I’m still not seeing as good as I want to or need to, but it was improved the last time I went to the doctor so hopefully that’ll continue,” he said. “If I could see as good as I felt, there wouldn’t be any problems.”
They have somewhat different coaching styles — Buzard is more laid back, Klafka more vocal.
“I think it’s a good mix,” Buzard said. “You can’t have two or three coaches that act the same. I’m looking forward to getting back in the mix and putting my two cents in there.”
Maguire said if things work out and Buzard continues to regain his health, the school faces a decision after next season.
It depends on Buzard’s health.
“If Dan gets back to where he was before, it’ll be an easy decision,” Maguire said.
Klafka said the Zias are in a rebuilding mode. They return guard Heather Brown and forward Tiana Bryant to the starting lineup, plus off-the-bench players like Riikka Lehtonen and Erika Cook.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do to be competitive next year,” Klafka said. “We’ve got some (pieces) to build on, but we’re essentially recruiting a whole new team.”
The Zias recently signed two players — 5-foot-9 point guard Lindsey Wood of Muleshoe and 5-9 junior guard Megan Ratliff of Farmington, a transfer from Cochise Junior College in southeastern Arizona.
During the early signing period, they signed Laura Vote, a 5-7 shooting guard from Kingwood, Texas, in the Houston area.
Wood ran the offense for Muleshoe as the Lady Mules reached the Class 3A round of eight each of the last two seasons, losing both times to eventual 3A champion Canyon.
“They had a good year, and Lindsey was a big part of that,” Klafka said. “She was kind of the glue that held that team together.”
Ratliff, who helped Farmington to a Class 4A state title as a senior, spent her freshman year at Grayson County (Texas) JC before transferring to Cochise.
“She shoots well and defends well,” Klafka said. “She’s a solid, hard-nosed kind of kid.”