By: Dan McLoone
Head Coach: Joe Mihalich (3rd Season)
Last Season: 20-14 (10-8, 5th in Colonial Athletic Association)
Losses: G Daryl Fowlkes, G Eliel Gonzalez, F Moussa Kone, G Dion Nesmith
Newcomers: G Desure Buie, F Ibrahim Djambo, F Denton Koon, G Justin Wright-Foreman
Hofstra managed to pull a complete turnaround within just one season, doubling their win total from 2013-2014 and coming just a heartbreaking three in double overtime away from a CAA Finals appearance. Returning four of their five starters from a squad that led the CAA in scoring with 78.5 points per game, the Pride are poised to continue off of last year’s success.
Most of that success can be handed to transfer guard Juan’ya Green, who averaged an impressive 17.1 points (3rd in the CAA) and 6.5 assists (1st in the CAA) while racking up an All-CAA First Team spot. Now a senior, Green will be one of the favorites to win player of the year. Fellow Niagara transfer and senior guard Ameen Tanksley played an excellent Robin to Green’s Batman, averaging 16.2 points (4th in CAA) and 5.5 rebounds. Joining them in the backcourt is junior guard Brian Bernardi, one of the top deep threats in the conference. Bernardi shot .404 from 3-point range last season, good for fourth in the CAA, while averaging 11.6 points.
Senior forward Malik Nichols is the last returning starter, but he will miss the defensive presence of graduated forward Moussa Kone. Sophomore Rokas Gustys will likely step into that starting role after emerging down the stretch as the team’s leading rebounder (5.7 per game) and a reliable interior defender. Two veteran newcomers could see significant minutes in the post, as well. 6’10” senior Clemson transfer Ibrahim Djambo and 6’8” graduate Princeton transfer Denton Koon will be key pieces for Mihalich, and Koon could step into a starting spot if the younger Gustys struggles to adapt to the role change.
After graduate guard Dion Nesmith left, junior Jamall Robinson will try to step into his spot as a sixth man after playing in every game last season. The Pride’s two freshmen guards, Desure Buie and Justin Wright-Foreman will also look to bring a change of pace off the bench when Green, Bernardi and Tanksley need rests.
Bottom Line: With Green and Tanksley ready for their senior year, Hofstra will once again be a guard-oriented team that takes a lot of jumpers. Losing Kone in the post stings defensively, but the newcomers should bring enough to the table to make Hofsta a top offensive rebounding team once again. With a strong starting lineup and energy players coming off of the bench, the Pride are one of the favorites to win the CAA. Expect no worse than a top-3 finish, and look for Mihalich’s team to be vying for a spot in March Madness at the end of the year.