CAA Preview: Hofstra Pride

Last season: 27–8 (15–3 CAA, first place), lost in CAA final

Coach: Joe Mihalich (seventh season)

CAA Preseason Poll Finish: First

Losses

  • G Justin Wright-Foreman
  • G Kenny Wormley
  • F Jacquil Taylor
  • F Dan Dwyer
  • F Matija Radovic

Additions

  • G Caleb Burgess
  • G Omar Silverio
  • G Jermaine Miranda
  • F Kvonn Cramer

By Matt Neiser

Led by Justin Wright-Foreman and his second-straight CAA Player of the Year season, the Hofstra Pride were a force to be reckoned with in 2018–19. A 16-game winning streak — the longest in the nation before Northeastern ended it on February 2 — helped Hofstra secure the CAA regular season crown before a loss to the Huskies in the CAA Championship game ended their season.

Wright-Foreman has carried the Pride the past few seasons, but he’s gone — off to compete in the NBA and G-League on a two-way contract after being drafted 53rd overall by the Utah Jazz. Now, reigning CAA Coach of the Year Joe Mihalich faces the challenge of replacing 27 ppg (second in the nation) of scoring and the bevy of other contributions the lethal lefty brought to his squad. Hofstra is also losing grad transfer Jacquil Taylor, their starting center and defensive anchor.

Despite the major losses, the Pride still have plenty of talent. Headlining their 2019–20 crew is All-CAA second team senior guard Eli Pemberton, who averaged 15 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per game on 45 percent shooting (35 percent from three) last season. The 6’5” guard has been a consistent scoring option behind Wright-Foreman throughout his career and finally has the chance to be top dog. An all-around scorer with playmaking upside, Pemberton will be the key to Hofstra’s success.

Also returning is senior guard Desure Buie, the reigning CAA Defensive Player of the Year. Buie’s 82 steals last season led the CAA, and it wasn’t even close; the next highest in the conference was JMU’s Darius Banks with 56. His defense will be invaluable for the Pride in a conference full of dynamic guards.

Other notable returnees include senior Tareq Coburn and junior Jalen Ray, a pair of sharpshooting guards. Coburn started 25 games last season and shot 43 percent from behind the arc on 3.4 attempts per game, while Ray came off the bench and contributed his own 39 percent from three on 3.7 attempts. The two combined for 16 points per game and are poised to build on those numbers with Wright-Foreman’s departure.

The big question mark for the Pride is their frontcourt. After losing Taylor (6’10”), Dan Dwyer (6’8”), and Matija Radovic (6’7”), they’re left with little experience at the four and five spots. Of the four players on their current roster over 6’6” tall, 6’8” Stafford Trueheart’s 11 minutes per game in 2018 lead the way.

Bottom Line: Losing Wright-Foreman is going to hurt. It’ll take some time for Hofstra to adjust, but the Pride still have more than enough talent to compete in the CAA. If Pemberton rises to the challenge as their primary option and they can scavenge serviceable minutes from their big men, there’s no reason to think Hofstra won’t be back in the title hunt this season.

Men’s Basketball Finishes Third in Preseason Poll

Image credit: nuhuskies.com

By Milton Posner

Ahh, the CAA Preseason Poll. That wonderful time of year when the conference’s coaches, media relations directors, and media members (including a few from your favorite Northeastern student radio station) gaze deep into their crystal balls and relay the results of the upcoming season. The results of this annual divination ritual, released Wednesday, were among the closest ever, with five teams receiving first-place votes.

TeamPoints (First-Place Votes
Hofstra Pride331 (14)
Charleston Cougars323 (18)
Northeastern Huskies291 (4)
James Madison Dukes253 (3)
Delaware Blue Hens241 (2)
Towson Tigers194
William & Mary Tribe131
Drexel Dragons125
UNCW Seahawks118
Elon Phoenix48

Hofstra, the defending regular-season titleholder, narrowly topped Charleston despite receiving fewer first-place votes. Northeastern finished third without immediate neighbors, and James Madison squeaked ahead of Delaware.

Charleston senior guard Grant Riller took home Preseason Player of the Year Honors and headlined the All-CAA First Team.

First TeamGrant Riller, Charleston
Nathan Knight, William & Mary
Brian Fobbs, Towson
Eli Pemberton, Hofstra
Matt Lewis, James Madison
Second TeamJordan Roland, Northeastern
Ryan Allen, Delaware
Camren Wynter, Drexel
Desure Buie, Hofstra
Darius Banks, James Madison
Honorable MentionBolden Brace, Northeastern
Kai Toews, UNCW
Kevin Anderson, Delaware
James Butler, Drexel
Marcus Sheffield II, Elon

Hofstra, Charleston, and Northeastern, the top three finishers in the poll, were the top three finishers in the regular season last year, albeit in a different order. All three lost major contributors — Justin Wright-Foreman, Jarrell Brantley, and Vasa Pusica, respectively — to graduation. They, along with fellow first-teamer Devontae Cacok of UNCW, signed pro contracts. This was a familiar theme during the CAA offseason; many of the conference’s most talented players graduated or transferred, including William & Mary’s Justin Pierce, Drexel’s Alihan Demir, and Northeastern’s Shawn Occeus.

Hofstra will look to defend its regular-season crown behind a trio of guards: second-teamer Eli Pemberton, third-teamer and Defensive Player of the Year Desure Buie, and the sweet-shooting Tareq Coburn. Charleston will lean heavily on Riller and hope for increased contributions from their maturing role players, namely Brevin Galloway. Northeastern, the defending CAA champion, offers second-teamer Jordan Roland, versatile guard/forward Bolden Brace, and a mix of returning role players and freshman recruits. James Madison and Delaware look to rebound from losing years behind star guards and, in Delaware’s case, two high-powered transfers in Dylan Painter and Nate Darling.

WRBB will post detailed previews for each CAA team the week before Northeastern’s November 5 opening again Boston University. Michael Petillo and Milton Posner will be on the call; coverage begins at 6:45 PM ET.