LSC poll motivates Hounds

ENMU picked 14th in preseason rankins


Last updated 11/9/2021 at 5:38pm

PORTALES — First-year Eastern New Mexico University men’s basketball coach Brent Owen made no bones about the fact that the Greyhounds were picked for 14th place in the 17-team Lone Star Conference preseason poll.

“That’s definitely locker room material,” Owen said Monday as the Hounds prepare to open the 2021-22 campaign against Fort Lewis on Saturday and New Mexico Highlands on Sunday, both set for 1 p.m., in the LSC/RMAC Conference Challenge at The Pit in Albuquerque. “That’s where they think we’re at, and it’s up to us to show them differently.

“We’ve got a lot to prove.”

Owen, in his first head coaching position, was hired in May 2020 to replace Tres Segler, who moved on to other business opportunities. The Hounds have not played since going 8-19 (8-14 Lone Star Conference) in the 2019-20 season.

Five players return from that squad, four of whom were active in Segler’s final year. Senior Jose Serrano was second on the team that season in scoring (10.6 ppg) and fourth in rebounding (4.0 rpg) two years ago.

“We had a lot of close games,” said Serrano, a 6-foot-7 guard/forward from Barinas, Venezuela. “We had a really talented team, but it didn’t work out for us.”

He said Owen, who spent the past nine years as an assistant at his alma mater, Division II Southern Indiana, brings a simplified, more laid-back style to the program. Instead of running more than 50 different sets, Owen has the team focusing on about 10.

“It’s a good thing to be able to just play,” he said. “We’re going to depend on mainly a motion offense. I think it’s going to be a good thing for us.”

Other players back are 5-10 senior guard Garrick Sherrod, 6-7 senior posts Marvin Mapaga and Yosnier Cobas and 6-7 junior forward Isaac Maldonado, who was a redshirt two years ago.

Owen said his primary goal in recruiting was to bring in more shooting, and he believes he’s accomplished that.

“We’ve got multiple guys who can shoot well,” he said. “And we added more length on defense.”

Among the players he brought in are Division I transfers in 6-6 sophomore guard Adam Hess (Texas-El Paso), 6-6 junior guard James Jordan (Kent State), and junior college pickups in 6-4 junior guard JaQuan Morris (Blinn CC), 6-7 sophomore forward Jared Perry (Butler CC) and 6-2 junior guard Cornell Greenwood (Yuba College, Calif.).

Freshmen on the squad are 6-0 guard Kentrell Pullium and 6-4 guard Niko Bossinakis.

The Hounds tested the waters on Nov. 1 at Pac-12 power Arizona, and played competitively at times in a 96-50 loss to the Wildcats in front of more than 10,000 fans. It was their first game action since February 2020.

“I felt like it was good to get under the lights with fans in the stands,” Owen said. “I was pleased with how hard we played, but I was not pleased with our execution.”

Serrano said it was a learning experience.

“We knew it was going to be a tough game,” he said. “But it’s something that’s going to help us.”

No question, the Hounds are in a process of trying to mesh all the pieces.

“It takes time,” Serrano said. “The first half (of the season) will be an adjustment, but by January we should be looking a lot better.”

Owen noted that three LSC teams were ranked in the D-II Top 25 in preseason, and three others were receiving votes. He said his teams at Southern Indiana have played LSC squads such as West Texas A&M and Midwestern State.

“I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to coach in the Lone Star Conference,” he said. “I think the league is going to be really strong. A lot of the top players in the league have transferred, but it seems like everyone just reloaded.”


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