Hounds hope recruits can bolster defense

CNJ staff

PORTALES — Shawn Scanlan is hoping his Eastern New Mexico University men’s basketball team can get back to its defensive roots next season.

Scanlan said the Greyhounds won back-to-back Lone Star Conference South Division titles in 2003 and 2004 primarily because of defense. That element has been lacking since then, he said, and as a result the team has gone just 14-22 in division play.

The Hounds have added six junior college transfers for next season, to go with four returning players. Scanlan is hoping to sign two more players, and several walkons will also be in the program.

“I think this is going to be a much better defensive team,” said Scanlan, preparing for his eighth season at ENMU. “We scored enough points to win this past year, but we didn’t always keep the other team in check.”

The transfers are 6-foot-8 post Tommy York, 6-5 post Jerry Prudhomme, 6-2 guard Jamaal McCoy, 6-5 forward Travis Cooper, 6-3 junior point guard Marquis Ruffin and 6-4 junior combo guard Quintin Askew.

“All these guys have a defensive mentality and a toughness about them,” Scanlan said. “We’ve added some size. We’re going to be as big as we’ve ever been on the perimeter.”

Holdovers from last year’s 12-14 squad (6-6 South) are junior forward Kendall Clark, who missed the 2006-07 season with a broken leg, and senior guards Dwight Collins, Justin Redman-Trotter and Kevin Davis.

Scanlan said the Hounds have two spots left to fill in recruiting. He said he’d like to add a big man and a perimeter player.

“I think we’ve done well,” Scanlan said of recruiting. “We’ve filled some needs and we’ve gotten some good kids. The guys we’ve signed fit into what we’re doing.”

ENMU’s schedule is set for next season and includes the start of a two-year, home-and-home agreement with Emporia State. The Hounds travel to Emporia, Kan., to open the 2007-08 campaign on Nov. 15, with the Hornets returning the favor the following season.

The Hounds also face Western New Mexico as part of a Division II doubleheader scheduled for Nov. 17 at Laguna-Acoma High School, west of Albuquerque — New Mexico Highlands and Grand Canyon meet in the other tilt. In other non-LSC games, ENMU faces Highlands home-and-home, plays at Colorado School of Mines and Regis in the Denver area, hosts Oklahoma Panhandle State and travels to Lubbock Christian.

“I think our schedule is very good,” Scanlan said. “We’ve done what we could with what we have to work with. I think we’ve kept it fairly regional.”

Assistant coach Mark Murdock, who was at ENMU for five years, took the head coaching position at Adams State during the spring. Scanlan has promoted grad assistant Marcus King to fulltime assistant, and said he will add a grad assistant later.