PORTALES — The popcorn machines will be working overtime and Greyhound Arena should be throbbing with enthusiastic fans this weekend when the Greyhounds men’s basketball team host their first Lone Star Conference Tournament, said Mike Maguire, the university’s athletic director.
“When you have some of the top teams in the country (NCAA Division II) coming in — two are ranked in the Top 10 — then it’s going to make for good basketball,” Maguire said. “It’s extremely exciting and (Tuesday) night’s crowd proved that they are very excited about the basketball here at Eastern.”
Five Greyhounds scored in double figures Tuesday night en route to a 112-79 spanking of the East Central (Okla.) Tigers.
Greyhound head coach Shawn Scanlan said the crowd on Tuesday night was a big factor in the victory, and his players respond well when fans energize them.
“We haven’t played in front of that many people for a long time,” Scanlan said. “That was a big crowd, an active crowd and a very supportive one.
“My team draws energy from the energy in the crowd, there’s no question about that — you’re just motivated to a greater extent,” he said.
The victory allowed ENMU to host the semifinal and final games.
Maguire said he is unaware how many visiting team fans will attend, but he is working on providing tickets for the all fans during the event.
“We want to make sure we can accommodate all our loyal Eastern fans and all our friends that are coming in,” Maguire said.
Home games have also helped business in a few local hotels and restaurants, Maguire added.
Management at the Cattle Baron Steak and Seafood Restaurant said home games typically increase business for the restaurant.
“Usually local people will come out a little bit more, dine before the game and if the team is victorious then people will dine after the game as well,” Cattle Baron Manager Zac Tischhauser said. “Most of the time the out-of-town teams need a quick place to stop and eat so they stop in a dine with us.”
Staff with ENMU’s athletic programs are doing all they can to avoid potential problems that may arise during tight games, Maguire added.
“There’s going to be some heated contests I’m sure, and you want to have control of your crowd and so forth,” Maguire said.
Maguire said if ENMU wins its semifinal game against Tarleton State Friday night fan support for the finals on Saturday should be very good.