CAA Preview: Hofstra Pride

By Dan McLoone

Head Coach – Joe Mihalich (2nd Season)

Last Season – 10-23 (5-11, Colonial Athletic Association)

Losses – G Zeke Upshaw, F Jordan Allen, F Darren Payen, F Dan Steinberg, G Chris Jenkins, G Adam Savion, F Stephen Nwaukoni

Newcomers – G Malik Nichols, G Juan’ya Green, G Ameen Tanksley, F Rokas Gustys, F Andre Walker, F Ibrahim Djambo, G Brian Bernardi

Just one year after being picked to finish last in the CAA, the Hofstra Pride find themselves in a completely different position. With a major roster overhaul that includes the addition of five transfer players who are now eligible to play, Joe Mihalichs’s squad is now projected to finish third in the CAA and have a realistic shot at making some big noise in the conference.

Key to the Pride’s resurgence will be redshirt junior guard Juan’ya Green, who sat out last season after transferring from Niagara. Without even playing a game in the CAA, Green has been named to the preseason All-CAA First Team. In his last season of action at Niagara, he averaged 16.5 points and 4.0 rebounds per game. Coming along with Green from Niagara is fellow redshirt junior guard Ameen Tanksley, who averaged 11.3 points per game in his last season. The two transfers will look to reestablish the chemistry they had with Mihalich, who was their head coach at Niagara for their first two seasons in college.

Just as crucial to the success of the Pride will be redshirt senior guard Dion Nesmith, a preseason All-CAA Second Team selection. Nesmith is the team’s best returning player and will be expected to up his scoring production from last year’s 13.3 per game to make up for the graduation of guard Zeke Upshaw (19.8 points per game in 2013-2014).

Also returning from last year’s starting five are senior forward Moussa Kone and sophomore forward Jamall Robinson. Kone is the teams default rim protector and rebounder, and will look to improve on his averages of 7.1 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game from last year as the graduation of Stephen Nwaukoni frees up more minutes in the post.  The 6’5” Robinson will improve on last year’s 9.5 points per game thanks to the transfer of the similarly built forward Jordan Allen to Sacred Heart University.

The Pride will offset their losses with three other transfers: junior guard Malik Nichols from South Plains, sophomore guard Brian Bernardi from Southern Methodist University and senior forward Ibrahim Djambo from Clemson. Hofstra will also boast a tall two-man freshmen class comprised of 6’9” forward Rokas Gustys and 6’10” forward Andre Walker.

Bottom Line – The Pride will be led by the dynamic backcourt of Nesmith and Green, who have the talent to give opposing defenses headaches. The development of Robinson and Kone into dominant post players could push Hofstra past the likes of Northeastern or William & Mary. The worst case scenario sees the team fail to gel in their first year and finish in the middle of the pack, but Hofstra has the talent to be serious contenders for the CAA title.