Andrew Helton would certainly like to have a better record than 5-6 at this point in the season, but he says it's all relative.
"We're better than our team was a year ago, and we were 9-4 (at this point)," the fourth-year Eastern New Mexico University men's basketball coach said. "It's a function of our schedule — we haven't played a bad team yet."
The Greyhounds resume their slate after a holiday break with a 4 p.m. Lone Star Conference clash against Midwestern State (7-3, 3-0 LSC) on Monday at Greyhound Arena. Women's teams collide in the first half of the doubleheader.
ENMU brings a three-game losing streak into the fray, but the last two were against NCAA Division I opponents — 60-57 at Cal Poly and, four nights later, 95-62 at BYU.
"We played pretty well against Cal Poly — not great, but we had a chance to beat a team that beat UCLA," Helton said.
He wasn't as happy with outing at BYU, although the Cougars clearly had a lot to do with that.
Midwestern State was picked second behind Tarleton State in the LSC this season, despite returning only one starter.
"They have a new team, but they've played better as the season has gone on," Helton said. "I think they'll be near the top (of the LSC when the season ends)."
The Hounds, meantime, currently stand 2-1 in the league, with a win over Angelo State and a two-point victory at Abilene Christian.
"To have played two road games and one home game, we're off to a decent start," Helton said.
The Hounds began the season without three players due to eligibility issues, but two of them have now been cleared. Senior center Greg McFarland has played the last three games, while senior guard Devone Davis will be redshirted.
Helton is still hoping to get senior guard Versia Hodges cleared and, if so, said he would likely join the active roster.
ENMU's women (1-10) finally broke into the win column in the last game of their three-day visit in mid-December to Anchorage, Alaska, blowing out BYU-Hawaii 66-45. Coach Lindsey Wilson is hoping the Zias can build on that.
"It was nice to end the first semester with a win," she said. "Midwestern will be a good team; they'll be a tough test for us."
She said things are slowly coming together for a team with a bunch of underclassmen.
"It's still taking us some time with so many new pieces, but I definitely think we're getting things together," she said. "I think we're still OK with what we're doing, especially with us being as young as we are."
She said beating the Seasiders was the boost the Zias were looking for.
"It came in the third game of the trip," she noted. "It was definitely a big one for us. It kind of gave us a little bit of confidence."
Midwestern State (7-3, 3-0 Lone Star Conference) at ENMU (5-6, 2-1)
• When: 4 p.m. Monday at Greyhound Arena
• Radio: KSEL-FM 105.9
• Last time out: The Mustangs won at home over Mid-Amrica Christian 81-73 on Dec. 17. The Greyhounds lost at BYU 95-62.
• Last year: The teams split the season series last season. ENMU handed the Mustangs their first loss of the season after 13 wins, an 80-72 decision at Greyhound Arena, while MSU won the rematch 79-64 at Wichita Falls, Texas.
• Of note: The Mustangs lead the all-time series 22-15 and had won eight in a row before last year's loss in Portales. … MSU leads the LSC by one-half game over Texas A&M-Commerce (9-3, 2-0) and by one game over the Hounds. The Mustangs have trailed at halftime in eight of their 10 games this season, including the last seven. … Leading scorers for Midwestern are 6-6 senior F Thomas Corbin (13.4), 6-2 sophomore G Keith Spellman (13.2), 6-2 senior G Kevin Grayer (11.5) and 6-0 junior G Monzaigo Williams (11.1). Corbin leads in rebounding (7.7 rpg) while Williams has 60 assists (6.0 apg). … Three players are scoring in double figures for ENMU — junior Gs Rodney Blackmon (17.0) and Reggie Love (13.1), and junior F Dennis Hardwell (10.3). … The Mustangs are outrebounding opponents by 9 1/2 per game, and have scored more than 20 percent of their points on offensive boards.
Midwestern State (7-2, 2-1 Lone Star Conference) at ENMU (1-10, 0-3)
• When: 2 p.m. today at Greyhound Arena
• Radio: KSEL-FM 105.9
• Last time out: Both teams last played on Dec. 19. The Mustangs lost at Central Oklahoma 72-53 while the Zias got into the victory column by blasting BYU-Hawaii 66-45 at Anchorage, Alaska.
• Last meeting: MSU swept last year's season series, winning close games at Portales (70-67) and Wichita Falls (64-55).
• Of note: MSU lost at Texas Tech 77-62 in an exhibition on Nov. 4. … The Mustangs' only other regular-season loss came in LSC play at Incarnate Word, an 82-81 decision in double overtime. … Leading scorers for Midwestern are 5-8 junor G Kirsti Degalia (15.1 ppg), 5-10 sophomore F Andrea Carter (13.4) and 5-8 sophomore G Shatoia Goher (10.7). Carter is averaging a double-double (11.7 rpg).
— Compiled by Dave Wagner