January 1, 2017
Thanksgiving and Christmas is now a near distant memory. What’s the significance? It primarily means one thing for basketball buffs in the Nassau County area: the 2016-17 Hofstra basketball season is now in full swing.
Every year, at about this time, I introduce the readers to Hofstra’s men’s basketball team and start the prediction process for the season. This year is no different – so here goes…
I begin with some comments about last year’s team. There were concerns, hopes, and expectations: third year Coach Joe Mihalich was back with a team that featured Juan‘ya Green and Ameen Tanksley – the two Niagara University transfers and Brian Bernardi, plus power forward Princeton transferee Denton Koon and second year center Rokas Gustys. So what happened? They had a great season, winning the CAA (Colonial Athletic Association). The CAA tournament was up for grabs and I felt they had a chance to win it and earn a berth in the NCAA tournament. We were at the CAA tournament during March 4 -7 at the Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore when they ran out of gas (as I had predicted earlier) in the championship game. Nonetheless, it was a pleasant vacation and an exciting four days. This year’s tournament is scheduled in Charleston, S.C., and it is currently on our radar screen.
Three of last year’s super starting five are gone. As a former educator, I’m always interested in the disposition of the players once they graduate. It was tough getting straight answers this year but this is what I know at this point in time: Koon is playing somewhere in Europe, with Green and Tanksley playing (I hope) in the NBA Developmental League.
This year’s team? Here is my analysis at the time of the posting of this article (December 25). The loss of last year’s BIG three was indeed BIG – the two top scorers (including Player of the Year Green) and the power forward. The team had a decent recruiting year. (Note: Every team claims they had a great recruiting year, so I no longer believe these press releases.) Notable additions include Deron Power (Hampton transfer), Eli Pemberton (freshman), Hunter Sabety (Tufts transfer), and Ty Greer (Daytona State transfer). Notable returnees – in addition to Gustys and Bernardi – include Desure Buie (out for year), Justin Wright-Foreman, and Jamall Robinson. Are there any concerns? Should there be concerns? The answer is YES. The team is presently in a developmental stage and only time will tell to what degree they will develop and improve. They have demonstrated an ability to score – sometime almost at will, 8but the defense is still somewhat porous. For example, they were unable to adjust and negate St. Bonaventure’s two excellent guards during an earlier loss. And, to compound this problem, the team continues to primarily play zone defense. On the positive side is that Coach Mihalich is playing 8 players, so fatigue will not be a problem this season.
More on this year’s personnel. All the noise is about freshman Eli Pemberton. Mihalich claims he will have a super career at Hofstra. An NBA scout told me that Pemberton’s number will be hanging from the rafters at the end of his collegiate career. He is a great scorer but (contrary to Mihalich’s comments) is short on speed and defense–but I have been wrong many times in the past. I believe that Hofstra’s hopes this year lie with two others. Powers is the fastest guard I have seen in years–he is grease lightening. What an absolute great addition to the backcourt. Ty Greer is listed at 6’6” but I think is 6’8” tall (and growing?) with a long wingspan and tremendous leaping ability. He’s the sleeper. However, I have repeatedly claimed that it is great guards that get a team to a championship game, but it is great defensive guards that get you to the Promised Land; i.e., win a championship. I’m not sure that Mihalich has someone to fill that role. Bottom line: this may be Hofstra’s year. Then again, it may turn out to be a rebuilding season for a host of reasons.
Attending Hofstra games for me still remains the best sports buy in the New York Metropolitan area; its’s even cheaper than going to the movies. There is ample free parking, easy access in and out of the Mack Sports Complex, the concession stands are not a rip-off ($3.50 for a dog, $3.00 for a soda, etc.), and there isn’t a bad seat in the house. Did I mention that its $6 for seniors and children, and the whole exciting atmosphere is conducive to family attendance? I don’t think this is an exaggeration, but almost every home game last year turned out to be a thriller. It was raw excitement. Share it with someone you care about.
In the meantime, my Basketball Coaching 101 book is still out in the marketplace at either amazon.com or createspace.com for $17.95. It makes an excellent New Year’s/post-Christmas gift. Consider buying the book – I really do need the royalty money to help subsidize my gambling habits.
Visit the author at:
www.theodorenewsletter.com or on his Facebook page at Basketball Coaching 101
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