ENMU senior guard Justin Redman-Trotter defends against freshman Matt Churchman during the team’s practice on Tuesday afternoon in Greyhound Arena.
PORTALES — Picked for sixth in the seven-team Lone Star Conference South Division, Eastern New Mexico University men’s basketball coach Shawn Scanlan was confident when school began that the Greyhounds had the team to easily exceed that lowly expectation.
Now, though, the Greyhounds are fighting injuries as they prepare for Thursday’s season opener at Emporia State (Kan.). The Hounds face Western New Mexico in the second half of a doubleheader Saturday at Laguna-Acoma High School, with the first game pitting New Mexico Highlands against Grand Canyon.
Junior point guard Marquis Ruffin (separated shoulder) may be able to play this weekend, Scanlan said, while senior forward Kendall Clark (fractured cheekbone) returned to practice Saturday and is being fitted with a facemask.
Two of the team’s primary big men, 6-foot-5 junior Jerry Prudhomme and 6-8 junior Tommy York, have undergone surgeries and are expected to miss the entire season. At best, the Hounds will have 10 players available.
“It’s a brand new team,” Scanlan said. “We have a lot of raw, young, talented, athletic kids.
“At some level, they’ll all have the opportunity to contribute.”
Only senior guard Justin Redman-Trotter (10.9 ppg), a second-team All-South selection last season, and senior guard Kevin Davis (5.2 ppg) return from last year’s squad, which went 12-14 overall and 6-6 in the Lone Star Conference South Division.
“I know we’re kind of undersized inside,” Davis said. “We just all have to come together and make it happen.
“If Justin and myself set good examples as leaders, I think everything else will fall into place.”
Davis and Redman-Trotter will play mainly at the wing positions, along with junior transfers Jamaal McCoy and Chad Johnson. Redman-Trotter and Johnson will also spend time at the point guard position until Ruffin is ready to take it over again, Scanlan said.
Junior guard Quintin Askew, another transfer and the son of former NBA player Vincent Askew, will also help in the backcourt, including the point.
The interior positions will be manned by Clark, juniors Travis Cooper and Kenneth Ward and freshman walk-on Matt Churchman.
Emporia State, which is scheduled to return the game in Portales next year, is ranked 23rd in the preseason NCAA Division II poll and has won 58 of its last 70 home games. The Hornets are coached by David Moe, son of former longtime Denver Nuggets coach Doug Moe.