By Dave Wagner: Freedom New Mexico
PORTALES — Eastern New Mexico University men’s basketball coach Shawn Scanlan and women’s coach Linden Weese don’t put a lot of stock in the Lone Star Conference South Division preseason polls.
“A lot of it’s based on reputation,” said Scanlan, whose team was picked for sixth out of seven teams.
Weese, meantime, enters his second season with 12 of his 17 players in the freshman class. The Zias were picked seventh out of eight teams, ahead of only Texas A&M-Kingsville.
“I think that’s fair,” Weese said. “Nobody knows anything about us.”
Both ENMU teams began preseason practice on Monday. The Hounds open the regular campaign on Nov. 15 at Emporia (Kan.) State, while the Zias’ first regular game is the same day against Fort Lewis in Durango, Colo.
The men, 12-16 (6-6 South) a year ago, just missed out on the program’s fifth berth in the LSC postseason tournament in six years.
Scanlan, entering his eighth season, has 11 scholarship players and three walk-ons, but only two who played last season in guards Justin Redman-Trotter and Kevin Davis.
He said the Hounds are nursing some early-season bumps and bruises.
“I like our incoming players and the overall makeup of our team,” Scanlan said. “This team has great potential if we can just get healthy.”
Kendall Clark, a 6-foot-5 guard who sat out last season due to a broken leg, is ready to contribute this year, Scanlan said.
The Hounds will probably have a couple of preseason scrimmages, Scanlan said. They have an exhibition game on tap at the University of New Mexico on Nov. 2.
The women — who coincidentally have an exhibition on tap Nov. 4 at UNM — will rely heavily on what Weese thinks is a talented freshman class. Sophomore guard-forward Megan Kabrick of Portales started every game on last year’s 14-12 (5-9) squad, while another Portales player is back in senior guard Erica Cook, who missed the 2006-07 campaign due to injury.
Weese said most of the players reported to preseason conditioning drills in good shape and the team had a lengthy first practice on Monday.
“I’ve been real pleased with these freshmen,” Weese said. “We’ve got some kids that are better than I thought they were.”