ENMU senior guard Tristan Largent goes up for a layup during the Greyhounds’ final practice Thursday at Greyhound Arena before tonight’s season-opening Harry Miller/ENMU Shootout tournament. (CNJ staff photo: Andy DeLisle)
By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer
PORTALES — Shawn Scanlan, not unlike a lot of coaches this time of year, isn’t sure his Eastern New Mexico University men’s basketball squad is ready for the season to start.
Still, the Greyhounds don’t have any choice. They open the 2006-07 campaign tonight in the four-team Harry Miller/ENMU Shootout at Greyhound Arena.
“I wish we had a little more time,” said Scanlan, beginning his seventh season at the helm. “We haven’t had our whole team together for some of our practices.”
ENMU faces Western State (Colo.) in the nightcap after Kansas rivals Fort Hays State and Washburn clash in the 6 p.m. opener. Third-place and championship games are set for Saturday night.
The event has been named in honor of a former ENMU coach who posted a 104-35 record in his five seasons at the school (1965-70), including an NAIA national championship in 1969.
The Hounds will start the season without 6-foot-5 junior forward Kendall Clark, recovering from a broken leg last spring, and 6-5 junior forward Rece Hampton, a transfer who is expected to become eligible next month at semester. Dwight Collins, a 6-4 guard who transferred from South Plains College in Levelland, Texas, missed the team’s 87-65 exhibition loss to New Mexico State last week due to back spasms, but should be available tonight.
Scanlan, whose team went 12-16 (6-6 Lone Star Conference South) last season, has a mix of returning players and newcomers.
“The biggest thing is we have to be in a mode where we play hard,” he said. “If we do that, we can be in a position to overcome some of our mistakes.”
Last year’s top two scorers return in 5-11 senior point guard Tristan Largent (13.0 ppg, 3.4 apg) and 6-6 senior forward Mikal Monette (12.0 ppg, 7.0 rpg). Monette missed the last three games of the 2005-06 campaign with a knee injury, but appears to be back near 100 percent, Scanlan said.
“We’re in a lot better shape than we were (at this time) last year,” Largent said. “We’re playing harder, and if we’re playing hard I think it’s going to be hard for teams to beat us.”
Juniors Justin Redman-Trotter, a transfer, and Stephen Wilson are slated to start at the wings tonight, while Monette and fellow returning seniors Ira Cross (6.8 ppg last year) and Donald Young (3.6) will carry the load up front.
“I think Ira and Donald are improved versions of themselves, and Mikal is too,” Scanlan said. “I think we have the potential to be a better team, but we’ve been held back (in preseason) by all the peripheral things. But I don’t think it affects the guys that are on the court.”
Kevin Davis, a 6-3 junior guard who sat out last year after dislocating a shoulder in preseason, should supply backcourt help with Collins and junior Aaron Rodriguez.
The lanky (6-3, 175 pounds) Redman-Trotter, who averaged 17 points a year ago at North Iowa Community College, said things are starting to click.
“I think it’s getting better,” he said. “We still have to improve and play more together sometimes, but I think we’ve made a lot of improvement.
“I’m excited; offensively, we have a lot of players who can score, and defensively we just need to play hard.”
Scanlan is hoping Redman-Trotter can make an immediate impact for the Hounds.
“We’d love for Justin to come in here and be functional right away,” Scanlan said. “He has a good feel for the game, but Justin just needs to be a little more assertive.”
ENMU was picked fifth in the seven-team South in the preseason poll, something which didn’t sit that well with Largent.
“I think that made everybody a little uneasy,” he said. “It just makes everybody work harder.”
Scanlan agreed with the poll making Tarleton State and Texas A&M-Kingsville the teams to beat, but said that after that it’s wide open.
“From No. 3 on,” he said, “it’s a crapshoot.”
ENMU men’s basketball
17-18 — Harry Miller/ENMU Shootout (17 — Fort Hays State vs. Washburn, 6 p.m.; ENMU vs. Western State, Colo., 8 p.m.; 18 — third place, 6 p.m.; championship, 8 p.m.); 21 — New Mexico Highlands, 7:30 p.m.; 24-25 — at Central Missouri State Classic (24 — vs. Tabor, Kan., 4 p.m.; 25 — vs. Central Missouri State, 6 p.m.); 30 — Southwestern Oklahoma, 7:30 p.m.-y.
2 — Cameron, 4 p.m.-y; 5 — at Oklahoma Panhandle State, 6 p.m.; 9 — at Texas A&M-Commerce, 3 p.m.-y; 18 — at New Mexico Highlands, 8 p.m.; 29 — Lubbock Christian, 4 p.m.
4 — Northeastern State, 7:30 p.m.-y; 6 — Central Oklahoma, 4 p.m.-y; 11 — at East Central, 7 p.m.-y; 13 — at Southeastern Oklahoma, 7 p.m.-y; 18 — at Abilene Christian, 7 p.m.-x; 20 — Angelo State, 7 p.m.-x; 25 — at Midwestern State, 7 p.m.-x; 27 — at Tarleton State, 7 p.m.-x; 29 — West Texas A&M, 7 p.m.-x.
3 — at Texas A&M-Kingsville, 3 p.m.-x; 5 — at West Texas A&M, 7 p.m.-x; 10 — Texas A&M-Kingsville, 7 p.m.-x; 14 — Abilene Christian, 7:30 p.m.-x; 17 — at Angelo State, 7 p.m.-x; 22 — Midwestern State, 7:30 p.m.-x; 24 — at Tarleton State, 7 p.m.-x.
All Times MST. x-Denotes Lone Star Conference South Division games. y-Denotes Lone Star Conference crossover games.
No. Name Ht. Pos. Yr.
4 Tristan Largent 5-11 G Sr.
10 Earl Fortenberry 5-10 G Jr.
12 Lawrence Willis 5-11 G Fr.
20 Justin Redman-Trotter 6-3 G Jr.
21 Stephen Wilson 6-2 G Sr.
22 Kevin Davis 6-3 G Jr.
24 Aaron Rodriguez 6-1 G Sr.
30 Rece Hampton 6-5 F Jr.
32 Ira Cross 6-6 F Sr.
34 Mikal Monette 6-6 F Sr.
40 Donald Young 6-6 F Sr.
42 Dwight Collins 6-4 G Jr.
44 Kendall Clark 6-5 F Jr.
Head coach: Shawn Scanlan (7th year). Assistant coach: Mark Murdock. 2005-06 record: 12-16 (6-6, 4th, in Lone Star Conference South Division).