CAA Preview: Hofstra Pride

hofstra

Coach: Joe Mihalich (4th Year)

Last Season: 24-10 (14-4, 1st in CAA)

Additions:

  • G Deron Powers (Hampton/Williamsburg, VA)
  • G Elijah Pemberton (Cheshire Academy/Middletown, CT)
  • F Ty Greer (Daytona State/ Chicago, IL)
  • F Stafford Trueheart II (Canisius HS/Lancaster, NY)

Losses:

  • G Juan’ya Green  (17.8 ppg, 7.1 apg, 4.4 rpg, CAA Player of the Year)
  • G Ameen Tanksley (15.9 ppg, 5.2 rpg)
  • F Denton Koon (11.4 ppg, 6.6 rpg)

By: Kyle Williams

Picked to win the conference and represent the CAA in the tournament, Hofstra made it all the way to the final before losing a heartbreaker in overtime to UNCW. Still, by many measures they had a fantastic season. They won 24 games, including wins over Florida State and St. Bonaventure. They tied for first in the CAA during the regular season, and got invited to the NIT. They averaged almost 80 points per game while running a fun, up-tempo offense that featured two of the more dynamic guards in mid major basketball in Juan’ya Green and Ameen Tanksley. And beyond all that, they were just a really fun team to watch.

This season, Hofstra is a prime candidate to regress: losing the reigning conference player of the year will do that to you. Both Green and Tanksley were huge parts of this team, representing their two leading scorers, two of their three leading three-point shooters, and their leading assist man in Green. Beyond that, this offense ran on the ability of those two to get to the rim and either finish, find open shooters, or draw fouls (Green alone took 240(!) free throws). Another loss is Denton Koon, a key role player who averaged 11-6 and could knock down outside shots (35% from deep last year). All together, these three represent a large chunk of Hofstra’s offensive production that will have to be replaced.

The good news for the Pride is that they have some talented recruits coming to help shore up the ranks. Deron Powers is eligible to play this year after transferring from Hampton after the 2014-2015 season; he average 10 points and 4 assists in his last season there. He should be able to come in right away and be effective in Mihalich’s system. Also joining the team are freshmen Eli Pemberton and Stafford Trueheart II. Pemberton is a 6’4 combo guard who can finish at the rim and has some ups. He has a little bit of a jump shot, but he’ll have to hit it consistently to find a bigger role in this offense. Stafford Trueheart II is a 6’6 PF who averaged a 20-10 with 3 blocks while leading Canisius HS to a state championship; he looks like more of a SF at the college level, but he has good touch around the rim and some range, and could eventually fill the opening left by Koon. Hofstra is also bringing in Ty Greer, a JUCO transfer who has one of the better stories in college basketball, hitting a game winning three pointer days after being shot in the leg.

Joining the new recruits are returning starters Rokas Gustys and Brian Bernardi. If I had less self-control, this preview would have just been ROKAS GUSTYS typed over and over again like I was Jack Nicholson in The Shining. Gustys is a monster, a double-double machine who averaged a 13-13 with a block per game, and had multiple 20-20 games last year. He’s big (6’9, 260 lbs), but athletic enough to run the floor, and has a soft touch around the rim. While the new guards are getting used to Mihalich’s system, expect the Hofstra offense to be centered around Gustys. Bernardi is another reliable senior that the team will rely on; he was third in the conference last year in three-point shooting, and provides a nice target on the wings for kick-outs.

Bottom Line: Expectations will be lower for the Pride this year, given what they lost. However, this has the makings of a good team, starting with Gustys, Powers, and Bernardi. There will be growing pains with the freshman, and they won’t be a 1st place team again. But, this is a Joe Mihalich team; they’re going to run, they’re going to score points, and they’re going to give the other CAA teams trouble every night. The conference is in a bit of a talent dearth right now, and Hofstra will ride a POY-caliber season from Gustys to a 4th place finish.

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