Colonial Athletic Association

(AP)
AP Photo/Gail Burton

CAA moving conference tournament to North Charleston in 2017

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In March the Colonial Athletic Association’s three-year agreement with the Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore comes to an end, meaning that the league and its members were in search of a new home for the men’s basketball tournament. Thursday afternoon the CAA made official news that made the rounds earlier in the week, as the 2017-19 editions of the tournament will be played at the North Charleston Coliseum in North Charleston, South Carolina.

The arena seats some 11,000 spectators, and the move places the men’s tournament closest to the CAA’s southernmost member. That could result in some travel issues, as Baltimore was a location to which many fan bases could travel by car or bus.

With the move south, those treks for fans of programs such as Northeastern, Hofstra and Drexel get even longer unless they’re willing to spring for a round-trip flight. But even with that option, you’re essentially committing to the entire weekend whether your team advances or not as it’s tough (and expensive) to change flights in such a scenario.

According to the CAA the move to the North Charleston Coliseum was unanimously approved by the member schools.

Hofstra’s rise close to being complete

Joe Mihalich
Associated Press
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HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (AP) Joe Mihalich didn’t show up on Hofstra’s campus three years ago riding a white horse. He did arrive and turn around a basketball program saddled with off-the-court issues that left the roster depleted and the image in tatters.

The Pride finished 7-25 in 2012-13 and four players were arrested on burglary charges stemming from dormitory room break-ins.

This season, the attitude is as far as it can get from that year. The Pride are picked as the preseason favorite to win the Colonial Athletic Conference.

Mihalich gives the credit to his staff and the players. He didn’t know if the third season would be the one that saw such expectations.

“I don’t know if you ever put a number on it but I knew we could turn it around because this is a great place with great leadership,” Mihalich said Thursday at the team’s media day. “Everything was in place to turn it around and I wouldn’t have come (from Niagara) if it wasn’t. I believe Hofstra can be a special place for basketball.”

The optimism for this season comes from the three leading scorers returning off a team that went 20-14 and played in the CBI. All three, however, are guards, giving the Pride one of the better backcourts in the nation.

“It’s humbling,” senior guard Juan’ya Green said of the attention the backcourt has received. “It just tells us how hard we worked and we pushed each other to be the best we could.”

Green is the point guard. He averaged 6.5 assists last season and will again be the director of the offense.

“My teammates trust me and Coach Mihalich trusts me and he knows I’ll pick out the right play at the right time,” Green said.

The 3-point specialist is junior Brian Bernardi, who made 95 3-pointers last season, shooting 40.4 percent from beyond the arc.

“My whole life I’ve always been able to shoot the 3,” he said, standing just behind the 3-point line for an interview. “I practice and prepare and I shoot every day. I made four 3s at the Nets’ arena when I was in sixth grade so I knew I was supposed to be a shooter.”

The third member of the backcourt is 6-foot-5 senior Ameen Tanksley, the team’s true swingman who helps with the rebounding. He averaged 16.2 points and 5.5 rebounds last season while making 74 3s.

“There’s no pressure for one player to be the big scorer,” Bernardi said. “We share the ball and that makes it hard for our opponent.”

Mihalich knows everyone points to his backcourt and that could cause problems if the Pride were to face a team with size up front.

“One of our challenges is to figure out a way to defend really big frontcourts but they have to defend us too,” Mihalich said. “That’s the great cat and mouse game of basketball. We’re small and quick. You’re big and strong let’s see who wins.”

The Hofstra players all break into big smiles when this season’s schedule is brought up. There is a trip to the Virgin Islands for the Paradise Jam in November and a game against Appalachian State on Dec. 6, at Madison Square Garden. It will be the Pride’s first appearance at the Garden in six years.

“It’s been one of my dreams to play in Madison Square Garden,” Bernardi said. “And the Virgin Islands, that’s just great.”

Mihalich is looking at a different part of the schedule – the CAA Tournament with an NCAA Tournament bid on the line.

“It’s all about three days in March,” he said.

WATCH LIVE: Drexel hosts College of Charleston on NBCSN

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Saturday afternoon’s contest between Drexel and College of Charleston features two teams looking to make a move up the Colonial Athletic Association standings. Both the host Dragons and Cougars have struggled for consistency this season but will play each other for the first of two scheduled contests.

Drexel (4-14, 2-5) will be led by high-scoring and productive guard Damion Lee. The 6-foot-6 junior rarely leaves the floor and is averaging 20.6 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game for the Dragons. College of Charleston (6-14, 1-6) relies on more of a balanced approach to get it done and the Cougars are led by sophomore guards Canyon Barry and Joe Chealey.

You can see the game at 12:00 p.m. on NBCSN. It will also be streamed on NBC Sports Live Extra.