If you were to have taken a look at the college basketball schedule at the beginning of the season, find Dec. 1, and run down the slate of games, I doubt you would have batted an eye at Southern Methodist-Hofstra.
On its surface, there isn’t much there. SMU, coming off a 13-19 season, travels to Long Island to take on a mid-major who also struggled last year.
But developments over the past week have made for a few interesting storylines as the Mustangs get ready to tip off against the Pride Saturday afternoon.
For SMU, first-year coach Larry Brown has accomplished the unlikely: leading his team to a 7-1 start. We saw on the recruiting trail this summer that SMU is finding small ways to insert itself into the national conversation.
Before the 2013 stars Harrison twins, Andrew and Aaron, chose Kentucky, SMU found its way into the final three candidates for the players’ services, though considered a longshot. Much of that credit likely goes to Brown, who has helped to change the culture in his short time with the program.
The questions arose, though, as to whether he could translate some of that momentum into wins with the players he inherited. With a small sample size so far, Brown seems to be able to have a workable group.
As for Hofstra, the Pride finds itself in the news for something it would likely rather not. No “new coach optimism” here.
Instead, four players were arrested on burglary charges this week and subsequently suspended from the team. Coach Mo Cassara announced the suspensions of Shaquille Stokes, Dallas Anglin, Kentrell Washington, and Jimmy Hall after police reported that the thefts included items totaling close to $10,000.
So the question Saturday is, how will Hofstra respond after losing two of its top four leading scorers and without the depth on the bench that they previously had?
It might be a reason to tune in to what would have otherwise been a run-of-the-mill early December game.