By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer
When preseason conditioning began, eighth-year Eastern New Mexico University men’s basketball coach Shawn Scanlan was looking forward to tonight’s 7 p.m. exhibition game against the University of New Mexico at The Pit.
He’s still looking forward to it. He just wishes he had his whole squad.
Injuries to junior point guard Marquis Ruffin (separated shoulder), senior forward Kendall Clark (concussion and fractured cheekbone), junior post Tommy York (herniated disc) and junior post Jerry Prudhomme (tumor) leave the Greyhounds with just eight players for the game.
Ruffin and Clark could be back in relatively short order, while the others are probably done for the season and leave the Hounds hurting on the inside.
“If you took our team from the start of the year, we’ve essentially lost four of our top eight players,” Scanlan said. “We just have to try to make the most of it and learn from it what we can.”
ENMU’s women, meantime, are also scheduled for an exhibition at The Pit, set for 4 p.m. Sunday. The UNM women are coming off a Sweet 16 appearance last season.
New Mexico’s men are under the direction of one-time Indiana Final Four hero Steve Alford, who took over the program after Ritchie McKay’s contract was terminated at the end of last season when UNM finished with just its second losing record (15-17) since 1984.
Scanlan, whose team went 12-14 last season (6-6 Lone Star Conference South), said he anticipates an up-tempo, pressure style of game from the Lobos.
“I know they’ve got a lot of hard-nosed guys,” Scanlan said. “They’ll play a different style than they have.”
The ENMU women’s roster includes 12 of 17 players in the freshman class, but second-year coach Linden Weese has high hopes for the team.
While New Mexico lost a number of players off its 2006-07 squad and will also be young, Weese is fully aware of the challenge.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for our kids,” he said as he prepared to watch UNM’s exhibition against the Chinese National team Thursday night at The Pit. “A bunch of our kids have been here before (in state tournaments).
“It’s a situation where they should be better than us in every spot. I just want to see how well our kids can compete.”
Both ENMU squads open their regular seasons Nov. 15.