Hofstra Pride (20-14 overall, 10-8 conference)
Projected starting five:
Sr. G Juan’ya Green
Jr. G Brian Bernardi
Sr. F Ameen Tanksley
Sr. F Denton Koon
Sr. F Malik Nichols
G Dion Nesmith and F Moussa Kone are the key departures from last season’s team.
76.1 percent of scoring and 79.1 percent of rebounding
Fr. G Desure Buie
Sr. F-C Ibrahim Djanbo (transfer from Clemson)
Sr. F Denton Koon (transfer from Princeton)
Fr. G Justin Wright-Foreman
The Pride’s non-conference schedule isn’t bad, but it’s not loaded with chances for quality wins to increase an NCAA Tournament profile. They have four home games, headlined by a visit from America East contender Stony Brook. They play in the Paradise Jam, opening with Florida State, then have trips to St. Bonaventure, La Salle and Siena. In CAA play, they open at Delaware, then get three straight at home against teams picked in the lower half of the conference, so they could get some early momentum going. In February, they have a big three-game homestand with visits from James Madison, William & Mary and Delaware.
Projected finish and outlook:
As soon as Joe Mihalich took the job and transfers started pouring in, this season was what they were especially gearing up for. The Pride have the team to beat with their star power, experience and depth, especially with the additions of Djanbo and Koon up front to complement the best perimeter unit in the conference. Green and Tanksley are two of the conference’s best players and have played together for years. Bernardi was deadly behind the arc last season and should be once again, and Koon should help as a glue guy. Indicative of how deep they are is that it’s easy to forget the presence of Jamall Robinson, an All-Rookie selection two years ago, but he’s very capable off the bench and has played a key role in the past. The Pride led the conference in scoring last season, and there’s every reason to expect a repeat of that with so much of the personnel returning. They’ll need to maintain their level of play a bit longer, as they were hot coming into CAA play and started 4-0 before cooling off after losing an early showdown at Northeastern. Hofstra lost a heart-breaker in the CAA Tournament semifinals last season, a game for the ages. This year there’s every reason to expect they’ll get a little further and win it all.