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Per Jeff Goodman of CBSSports.com, Hofstra University has fired head basketball coach Mo Cassara.
The only thing odd about this firing is that it wasn’t announced immediately at season’s end. We all know a coach can be fired for losing games, and Hofstra did that recently, losing 47 games in the two seasons since super-stud Charles Jenkins graduated and left the Pride.
Cassara might have survived even that if he had been given another year, but Hofstra administrators could not ignore the off-court turmoil that engulfed the program this season. The first bombshell hit at the beginning of the season, when sophomore Shaquille Stokes and three freshmen accomplices were arrested for stealing over $10,000 worth of laptop computers.
Cassara might have breathed a sigh of relief, as the rest of his season was relatively quiet on the crime front, but then came a nice little package of flaming poo to end the season, as UConn transfer Jamal Coombs-McDaniel was arrested for marijuana possession. Coombs-McDaniel was pulled over and cited for not wearing his seatbelt, and, coincidentally, for having several blunts sitting in the cup-holder of his vehicle.
Hofstra AD Jeff Hathaway saw Cassara off with the usual platitudes in a Friday morning press release:
“We are very thankful to Mo Cassara for his hard work and dedication to the Hofstra Basketball program over the last three years,” commented Hathaway. “Mo is a tireless worker and has tremendous passion for the game and the students that he coached. I personally want to thank him for his commitment to Hofstra Athletics and the University community during his tenure. We wish him the very best.”
So, Hofstra parts ways with Mo Cassara, in a way that seems almost pre-ordained. After all, Cassara got his chance when the school’s original choice for a new head coach, Tim Welsh, was arrested for driving under the influence shortly after being hired to replace Tom Pecora in 2010.
For a knowledgeable fan response to the firing, read this article by Defiantly Dutch.
Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.
Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.
After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.
Video credit: Wyoming Athletics
Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.
Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.
Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.
Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.
Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.
But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.