By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer
PORTALES — Fresh off scrimmage outings, Eastern New Mexico University’s basketball teams are preparing for exhibition games this weekend.
The ENMU men host Fort Lewis College of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference in a 7 p.m. contest on Friday at Greyhound Arena. The women face Division I foe Texas-El Paso for the third consecutive season at 2 p.m. on Sunday in El Paso.
ENMU men’s coach Shawn Scanlan said there is no admission to Friday’s game. He said donations will be taken for the Hurricane Katrina relief effort.
Scanlan said the Greyhounds, who struggled to a 9-18 record in 2004-05 after back-to-back Lone Star Conference South Division titles, should get a pretty good indication of where they stand against the Durango, Colo.-based Skyhawks. Fort Lewis returns just one starter — junior forward Tim Bieri — from a team which went 22-6 overall and tied for second in the RMAC at 16-3 under veteran coach Bob Hofman.
“They graduated pretty heavy,” Scanlan said. “They lost six of their top eight scorers. I think they’ll be a lot like us.
“Hofman’s a good coach. They’re well-coached, and they’ve always been a disciplined team.”
The Hounds scrimmaged Midland (Texas) College on Friday at Texas Tech’s United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, and Scanlan said it went fairly well.
He said the Chaparrals, members of the Western Junior College Athletic Conference, were a quality foe.
“Midland’s got a good team,” he said. “I figure that if you’re going to (scrimmage), you might as well play somebody good.”
Scanlan said the Hounds shot the ball better than he expected in the scrimmage, but added that their conditioning and overall defense need work.
“I knew going in we had a lot of things to work on, and the scrimmage exposed some of the things we’re not doing well,” he said.
ENMU’s women have competed reasonably well against UTEP the past two seasons, losing 70-55 in 2003 and 91-72 last year.
“They’re a pretty decent Division I team with some size and talent,” Zias coach Dan Buzard said. “We’re going to have to go in there with the idea that we have to rebound the basketball and be able to execute.”
The Zias also scrimmaged a Texas junior college opponent, Howard, on Saturday at Lovington. Buzard said the teams played six 10-minute quarters, with the Zias winning four of them.
Howard is coached by former ENMU men’s coach Earl Diddle.
Buzard said the Zias will take 13 players to UTEP.
“We’re probably going to be about 10 deep,” he said. “I think we’re a pretty well-rounded team. We’re not that big, but we’re pretty skilled.”
Both ENMU squads open the regular season with road outings on Nov. 15 — the men at Lubbock Christian and the women at Western New Mexico.