Hounds in San Antonio tourney action

By Dave Wagner, Freedom New Mexico

Four points.

That’s the difference between a 4-5 record and a 2-7 mark for the Eastern New Mexico University men’s basketball team. Well, sort of.

The Greyhounds dropped two-point road decisions to Lone Star Conference North Division members Southeastern Oklahoma and East Central last week. In the former, the Savage Storm was coming in on a 26-game losing streak; in the latter, the Hounds led by 14 points at halftime and by 10 with about eight minutes to go.

ENMU should face a stiff challenge in this weekend’s River City Classic in San Antonio, hosted by St. Mary’s. The Hounds have 9:30 a.m. (MST) games on tap against Arkansas Tech (7-2) today and against Northwest Missouri State (4-4) on Sunday.

ENMU coach Shawn Scanlan said his team, made up primarily of junior college transfers, remains a work in progress.

“Starting off (the season), we didn’t understand how hard you have to play,” Scanlan said. “I think we might’ve been taking possessions off — we might do something good one (possession), then cancel it out on the next.

“We’ve played of late like we’ve practiced. Until we get that changed, we can’t expect the games to be any different.”

Junior guard Aaron King said the Hounds aren’t far away from being a solid team.

“We’ve just had mental breakdowns on defense as well as offense,” said King, a 6-foot-1 junior guard from Los Angeles who averages 8.6 points. “It’s just little things that we practice every day.”

Admittedly, with only sophomore Matt Churchman returning from last year’s active roster, it figured to take some time for the Hounds to click.

ENMU has struggled on offense, averaging less than 62 points a game and shooting 42 percent from the field, including 25 percent from 3-point range.

For now, King said, defense may have to carry the Hounds as they try to get more comfortable in Scanlan’s structured offensive system.

“We have to jell on defense,” he said. “Once we get the offense down and know where our spots are on the court, I think our shooting percentage will go up.”

Scanlan said it’s been a combination of things holding the team back.

“Truthfully, I’m not concerned who we’re playing against,” he said. “I just want to get us to be the team we should be.”