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ENMU hoops to face tough tests

 

February 12, 2020

Kevin Wilson

Eastern New Mexico forward Jose Serrano goes up for the shot in the Greyhounds' home win over Texas-Permian Basin. The Greyhounds face Dallas Baptist Thursday and Tarleton State on Saturday.

As the games become fewer they get all the more important.

There are six games and less than three weeks left in the regular season for both the Eastern New Mexico University men’s and women’s basketball teams. As the Lone Star Conference tournament grows closer, the games that will help the Greyhounds get there are more crucial.

Especially for the Eastern men’s team, sitting squarely atop the LSC playoff bubble with a 6-15 overall record, 6-10 LSC, and currently on a three-game losing streak. So when the ENMU men host Dallas Baptist on Thursday (7:30 p.m.) and Tarleton State on Saturday (4 p.m.) at Greyhound Arena, it’s a huge two-game stretch against teams that are currently tied for fourth in the Lone Star.

“If we can win both these games it could be the difference in tiebreakers to get us into the tournament or to get us a better seed in the tournament,” Eastern men’s head coach Tres Segler said. “If you have that tiebreaker when it all shakes out, it’s possible that they would be our first-round game. Obviously a win and playing well against them would give us the confidence when it really mattered in that tournament setting.”

ENMU’s women are in a bit better position with their 16-6 overall and 10-6 conference marks. They too, though, want to keep playing well during this last stretch, which begins for them on Thursday against Texas Woman’s (5:30 p.m.) and continues Saturday against Tarleton (2 p.m.).

Those are teams that will offer different challenges for the Eastern women, starting with Texas Woman’s (7-13, 5-11 conference).

“TWU is a team that’s going to play the half-court game,” ENMU head coach Josh Prock said. “They’re going to really try to get the game they want — a lower-scoring game rather than a higher-scoring game. We’re going to try to push the tempo against them. ... We just want to get the tempo in our favor, and obviously we want to get stops. And if we can get stops we can get out on the break and run.”

The Greyhounds’ tougher test this week will likely be Saturday, hosting a Tarleton State team that will be 17-5, 11-5 conference, and on a five-game win streak heading into Thursday’s game against No. 20 West Texas A&M, and still pretty good by Saturday, win or lose Thursday.

“Tarleton’s a team that’s really been playing well lately,” Prock said. “They’re in some ways similar to TWU, but they have one of the best posts in the conference.”

Prock was referring to 6-2 Tarleton senior forward Mackenzie Hailey.

“She’s very crafty around the basket,” Prock said, “and can step out and shoot the three as well.”

Prock noted Tarleton’s versatility. Aside from Hailey, there’s 5-9 junior guard Alexa Hoy. “She can shoot the ball and attack the basket,” Prock said. “She’s a very, very good player.”

So is 5-6 senior point guard Kylie Collins. “She does as good a job as anyone in the conference of running her team,” Prock said.

That will be a lot for Eastern to handle.

“Absolutely,” Prock said. “It will be a very big challenge for sure. We’ve just got to be solid defensively. You can’t take chances, and you’ve got to do your assignments and play good team defense.”

Eastern’s men are also in for a variety this week when facing Dallas Baptist (17-5, 11-5) and Tarleton State (14-8, 10-6 prior to Thursday’s game against No. 3 West Texas A&M).

“They’re two different teams,” Segler said. “Dallas Baptist is going to be a little bit more motion-offense-based, so they’re going to have a lot more freedom. Obviously with that freedom to shoot wherever, whenever, we’re really going to have to guard the three-point line well.

“They’re not as big as Tarelton,” Segler continued. “Tarleton’s definitely a bigger team with their forwards.”

Most notably 210-pound power forward Josh Hawley, the LSC’s Preseason Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year last season. “He’s a real big 6-7 bouncey, athletic 4-man,” Segler said. “He can shoot, he can pass.

“I think we match up with Tarleton position by position. ... Their playing style is a little bit more regimented. Their coach (Chris Reisman) is going to call sets down the floor. If you know what they’re going to do before they do it you at least have a chance to stop it. We will have a chance to counter-attack what they run. If we can take away their first punch, they’re trying to beat you with something else than their best punch.”

Eastern hopes to out-punch, strategically, Tarleton in Saturday’s wrap of the mini-homestand. In Thursday’s opener of the two-game set, ball screens will be on the agenda.

“Dallas Baptist switches ball screens,” Segler said, “so that’s kind of the way they tend to guard. If we can take advantage against those matchups we can maybe punish them a little bit. Basically every time we screen there’s an opportunity for a mismatch. You don’t want to spend too much time to look for that because that stalls your offense, but if we can take advantage of those when they come ... get an easy mismatch, we can put ourselves in position to win.”

 
 

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