ENMU grads to match wits in NCAA tourney game

By Mickey Winfield: Freedom Newspapers

PORTALES — Creighton’s Dana Altman and Nevada’s Mark Fox have more in common than leading their teams to the NCAA tournament.

They both played basketball for the Eastern New Mexico University Greyhounds.

Their teams will collide in the first round of the South Regional on Friday in New Orleans. Nevada (28-4) is the seventh seed in the region, while Creighton (22-10) is No. 10.

Now in his 13th season at Creighton, Altman was a guard for ENMU from 1978-80.

“I enjoyed my two years (in Portales),” Altman said. “I played for coach (Larry) Riley in two of his first years, and I’ve stayed in touch with him quite a bit over the years. I enjoyed the opportunity to play there.”

Before taking the job at Creighton, Altman made several coaching stops, including Southeast (Neb.) Junior College, Moberly (Mo.) Junior College, Kansas State and Marshall.

Altman has led the Omaha, Neb.-based Bluejays to six NCAA tournament appearances, including a stretch of five in a row from 1999-2003.

Fox, who played for Earl Diddle from 1989-91, could not be reached for comment.

Before making it to Nevada, Fox had stops as an assistant coach at Washington and Kansas State — Altman had already left K-State.

Fox has led the Reno-based Wolf Pack to three straight Western Athletic Conference titles and NCAA tournament appearances since taking over the program in 2004.

“I’ve known Mark for a long time,” Altman said. “I’m more worried about some of his players than I am about Mark. He does a great job with his team. They’ve won 28 ballgames, and they’ve been ranked in the Top 20 all year. It’ll be a big challenge for our team.”