By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer
With his team striving to get back to the .500 mark and Lone Star Conference South Division play on the horizon, Eastern New Mexico University men’s basketball coach Shawn Scanlan isn’t about to take any opponent for granted — even a winless one.
He knows despite an 0-10 record, Oklahoma Panhandle State is a capable opponent. The Greyhounds (4-6) end a 12-day break from competition when they face the Aggies at 4 p.m. (MST) today in Goodwell, Okla.
“I don’t think we can overlook anybody,” Scanlan said. “For all the obvious reasons, a team like that is always dangerous. They’re certainly good enough to get (a win) somewhere.”
ENMU’s women return from a nine-day break when they open Lone Star Conference South Division play at rival West Texas A&M (8-1) at 5 p.m. (MST) today in Canyon, Texas.
Scanlan said his team, made up of primarily new players, is still trying to find the right chemistry.
“We’ve got to get some things ironed out,” he said. “Really, we’re struggling in all aspects of our game.
“We’ve played some of the better teams close and not won. And we’ve played teams that aren’t as good and made them look like they are (better).”
Of primary concern to Scanlan are turnovers (nearly 18 a game) and opponents’ shooting percentage (48 percent). Also, he noted the Hounds aren’t getting to the free throw line as much as he’d like, and when they do, they’re shooting just 62 percent.
After today’s game, ENMU has four LSC crossovers against North Division teams remaining before starting division play Jan. 19 at Angelo State.
ENMU’s women (6-4), coming off two disappointing losses at Alaska-Anchorage last week, figure to have their hands full against a potent WT squad ranked 15th in NCAA Division II and averaging 86 points a game — 15 more than anyone else in the LSC.
“They’re just a team that’s danged good,” ENMU women’s coach Dan Buzard said.
The Zias lost three players to season-ending knee injuries in a span of two weeks in late November and early December, and are trying to find a way to make up the firepower.
“It’s just going to take a lot of effort and hard work on both ends of the floor,” said Buzard, whose team has dropped its last three contests by a total of 14 points. “We’ve got to execute better because (WT’s) pressure is going to be hard.”
Buzard said the trip to Alaska was rewarding, but the losses were hard to take.
“It was a tough trip for our kids,” he said. “(Anchorage was) a quality basketball team.
“Our kids are continuing to prepare themselves for what we know is a tough (South Division schedule).”