Hofstra Pride

Joe Mihalich
Associated Press

Hofstra’s rise close to being complete

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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.

Daniel Dixon’s three-pointer pushes William & Mary into second consecutive CAA title game (VIDEO)

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After falling in the CAA tournament title game a season ago, William & Mary will make its second consecutive appearance in the game Monday night. Their path to the CAA final wasn’t an easy one either, as they needed a Daniel Dixon three-pointer with eight tenths of a second remaining in double overtime to beat Hofstra 92-91 on Sunday.

CAA Player of the Year Marcus Thornton, who assisted on Dixon’s game-winning three, scored a CAA tournament single-game record 37 points to lead the way for the Tribe with Omar Prewitt adding 33 points. Juan’ya Green, the CAA Newcomer of the Year, led Hofstra with 26 points to go along with seven assists and four steals. Dion Nesmith added 21 points and Brian Bernardi 17 for the Pride, who drop to 20-13 on the season.

William & Mary will play either UNCW or Northeastern in Monday’s title game, which can be seen on NBCSN at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

2014-2015 Season Preview: This the year for William & Mary, or do new contenders emerge in the CAA?

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Beginning on October 3rd and running up until November 14th, the first day of the season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2014-2015 NBCSports.com college hoops preview package.

MORE: 2014-2015 Season Preview Coverage | Conference Previews | Preview Schedule

The Colonial Athletic Association ended in dramatic fashion last season as Delaware defeated William & Mary, 75-74, in the final seconds of the conference title game in Baltimore. There will be plenty of turnover in the CAA heading into this season, as many star players have moved on from their collegiate careers and several programs from the bottom half of the conference standings in previous years look to make the jump into the NCAA tournament conversation.

William & Mary guard Marcus Thornton is the only returning first-team all-conference selection and is the league’s best player. The Tribe also return Omar Prewitt, the CAA 2013-2014 Rookie of the Year, giving W&M one of the best perimeters in the conference. Chasing the Tribe will be two teams that finished below .500, but have the tools to be serious contenders this season. Northeastern returns six of its top seven scorers, including second-teamer Scott Eatherton and Quincy Ford, who was sidelined all but two games with a back injury. The two 6-foot-8 forwards give the Huskies the CAA’s best frontline. Hofstra head coach Joe Mihalich is equipped with some offensive firepower to account for the graduation of CAA top scorer Zeke Upshaw. Juan’ya Green and Ameen Tanksley, both of whom followed Mihalich from Niagara in 2013, are now eligible, as is SMU transfer Brian Bernardi. That trio joins senior guard Dion Nesmith.

Drexel, Delaware, James Madison and Towson have all lost significant contributions, but could still pieces to offset the lost production. Damion Lee has recovered from last December’s ACL tear. He averaged 17.1 points per game for Drexel as a sophomore in 2012-2013. Gone from Delaware are four double-digit scorers, but Kyle Anderson remains, as the Blue Hens will shift to a strong defensive-minded team in 2013-2014. Two-time player of the year Jerrelle Benimon graduated last spring, but Towson does bring back Timajh Parker-Rivera and Four McGlynn while James Madison won’t have its full roster until late November.

The Dukes suspended talented scorer Andre Nation for the first five games. He missed 15 games last season due to violation of the athletic department. Northeastern has also dealt with personnel issues as starting guard Demetrius Pollard left the program earlier this month, although he remains enrolled at the university.

The CAA welcomes Elon from the Southern Conference. Elon’s Matt Matheny is one of three new CAA head coaches. Rick Pitino’s former assistant Kevin Keatts takes over at UNC-Wilmington while former Clemson assistant Earl Grant got a late start to his first season on the College of Charleston bench after the school fired Doug Wojick in early August.


In: Elon
Out: None

PRESEASON CAA PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Marcus Thornton, William & Mary

The 6-foot-4 two-guard is the conference’s top returning scorer, averaging 18.7 points per game, going for 20 or more 14 times during his junior campaign that ended with first-team all-CAA honors. Thornton back-rimmed what would have been a game-winning, buzzer-beater in the CAA championship game against Delaware; a missed shot that likely fueled his offseason workouts this summer.


  • Kyle Anderson, Delaware: The Blue Hens lost four of five double-digit scorers. Anderson, the only one to start all 35 games, should see an increase in production this season for the reigning CAA champion.
  • Scott Eatherton, Northeastern: The 6-foot-8 forward averaged a double-double last season, posting 15.9 points and 10.2 boards per game.
  • Juan’ya Green, Hofstra: One of three transfers eligible this season for a revamped roster. The 6-foot-2 guard averaged 16.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 4.9 assists a game for Niagara in 2012-2013.
  • Damion Lee, Drexel: Missed all but five games last year due to an ACL tear. When Lee is healthy, Drexel is a contender and he is a player of the year candidate.



1. William & Mary
2. Northeastern
3. Hofstra
4. Drexel
5. Delaware
6. James Madison
7. Towson
8. College of Charleston
9. Elon

Reports: Former Clemson forward Ibrahim Djambo transferring to Hofstra

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After posting averages of 17.7 points and 9.2 rebounds per game during his sophomore season at Three Rivers CC in Missouri, 6-foot-10 forward Ibrahim Djambo was expected to be one of the players competing for significant minutes at the power forward position at Clemson last season. Things didn’t work out that way for Djambo however, as he averaged 1.9 points and 1.4 rebounds just over nine minutes per game for the Tigers.

Djambo made the decision to transfer in late June, and according to multiple reports he’ll be joining Joe Mihalich’s Hofstra program. Djambo has one season of eligibility remaining, and it’s expected that he’ll have to sit out the 2014-15 season per NCAA transfer rules.

Djambo’s addition adds some size to a program that has just two players 6-foot-7 or taller who will have eligibility remaining during the 2015-16 season: 6-foot-9 forward Rokas Gustys and 6-foot-10 forward/center Andre Walker. Hofstra’s most experienced front court returnee is 6-foot-7 forward/center Moussa Kone, who will be a senior next season.

Hofstra, which finished the 2013-14 season with a 10-23 overall record (5-11 CAA), will have to account for the loss of high-scoring forward Zeke Upshaw (19.8 ppg) but they return graduate guard Dion Nesmith and transfers Juan’ya Green and Ameen Tanksley (both played for Mihalich at Niagara) will be eligible to play after sitting out all of last season.

Report: Hofstra transfer Jordan Allen to Sacred Heart, eligible immediately

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It was known that Jordan Allen, the former Hofstra forward, was heading to the Northeast Conference. However, it’s a different NEC program than the one he initially transferred to.

Allen announced that he would leave Hofstra after two seasons in March. It had previously been reported that he was heading to LIU-Brooklyn. On Tuesday, Adam Finkelstein of ESPN reported that Allen would enroll at Sacred Heart. The 6-foot-6 forward graduated from Hofstra this spring, and has immediate eligibility.

The redshirt sophomore averaged 6.6 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game for the Pride. In both seasons, he logged more than 22 minutes per game. He will be joining a Pioneers team that finished last in the NEC in 2013-2014 with a 5-26 (2-14 NEC) record, one spot below LIU-Brooklyn, which had its streak of three NCAA tournament appearances snapped.

Allen joins guards Cane Broome and Chris Robinson in Sacred Heart’s incoming class.

Mid-Major Catchup: Who are the best teams from outside the top conferences?

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Gonzaga: The Zags are going to have one of their best teams in recent memory next season, at least on paper. Kevin Pangos is back and healthy, teaming up in the back court with Gary Bell and USC transfer Byron Wesley. The front court will feature Kentucky transfer Kyle Wiltjer, seven-foot mountain Przemek Karnowski, Lithuanian star Domantas Sabonis and former Louisville forward Angel Nunez. This group is as talented and as versatile as anyone on the west coast not named Arizona. They will be a borderline top ten team entering the season and should be a contender to reach the Final Four if they can find a way to once again be a consistently good defensive team.

RELATEDRead through all of our Conference Catchups here

Wichita State: The Shockers may lose Cleanthony Early, but don’t expect this group to suffer too much of a drop next season. Fred Van Vleet, Ron Baker and Tekele Cotton will once again be one of the nation’s best back courts, and while Early absence will cost the Shockers an elite level athlete and a matchup nightmare at the four, they should still have enough depth in their front court to be the best team in the Missouri Valley and a top 15 team nationally. Don’t expect another undefeated run from Gregg Marshall’s club, but don’t be surprised if they advance further in the tournament next season than they did last season.


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Harvard: If the Crimson are ever going to be a team that makes a run in the NCAA tournament, the 2014-2015 season may be their final chance. Wesley Saunders, Kenyatta Smith, Steve Moundou-Missi and Jonah Travis will all be seniors. Siyani Chambers will be a junior. That’s quite a bit of talent and experience for a team in the Ivy League, especially when you consider that the Crimson won a game in the 2013 tournament and led Michigan State late in the second half of the 2014 tournament.

Georgia State: Ryan Harrow and R.J. Hunter are back for another run, forming one of the nation’s most talented back courts regardless of level. There are going to be some holes to fill along the front line, but if Louisville transfer Kevin Ware gets a waiver to be eligible immediately, the Panthers are looking at winning a second straight Sun Belt conference title.

Saint Mary’s: The Gaels lose Stephen Holt, but they should be able to replace him with Stanford transfer Aaron Bright, who will be eligible to play in 2014-2015. Throw in Washington transfer Desmond Simmons and the return of the underrated Brad Waldow, and St. Mary’s will have quite a bit of experienced, high-major talent.

Toledo: The Rockets are coming off of a season where they won the MAC regular season title, but after losing in the conference tournament, they were bounced out in the first round of the NIT. Even with those postseason struggles, they finished the season with a 27-7 record and will return five of their top six players, including star point guard Juice Brown. Toledo will be the favorite to win the always-competitive MAC.

UC Santa Barbara: The Gauchos are coming off of a 21-9 season where they will return Alan Williams, one of the nation’s most underrated players. Williams averaged 21.4 points, 11.5 boards and 2.4 blocks a season ago. UCSB also returns the majority of their rotation players, and while the Big West looks like it will be pretty tough at the top next season, the Gauchos should be in the mix for the title.


  • Green Bay: The Phoenix lose Alec Brown to graduation, but they return the majority of their rotation players, including star point guard Kiefer Sykes, who is back for his senior season
  • Hofstra: This pick may seem weird on paper, but the Pride have a shot at being the best team in the CAA next year. Juan’ya Green, Brian Bernardi and Ameen Tanksley will all be eligible after transferring in and Joe Mihalich adds a solid recruiting class.
  • Louisiana Tech: Mike White will once again have a team capable of winning Conference USA, as he will bring back most of his rotation, including Alex Hamilton and a healthy Raheem Appleby.
  • Murray State: The Racers won 23 games last season and finished 13-3 in the Ohio Valley despite having a freshman (Cam Payne) lead them in scoring. The better news? Five of their top six players will be back for the 2014-2015 season.
  • Northern Iowa: The Panthers bring back their top six players from last season while adding Wyatt Haus and Virginia transfer Paul Jesperson to the mix.
  • Stephen F. Austin: At this point, you bet on Stephen F. Austin to win, regardless of the situation. They lose three of their top six, but they return their best players — Thomas Walkup — and, most importantly, head coach Brad Underwood.
  • UC Irvine: The Anteaters won 23 games last season and were the Big West champions. The league returns quite a bit of talent next year, but UCI will have four of their top five scorers back, including Mamadou N’Diaye and Luke Nelson, who will both be sophomores.
  • Wofford: The Terriers are coming off of a trip to the NCAA tournament and return their top eight players. Throw in the fact that Davidson is not in the SoCon anymore, and Wofford should enter the season as the favorites to win the league.
  • Yale: The Elis may have lost a part-time starter to an a cappella group, but they will bring back the majority of their rotation, including star forward Justin Sears. Yale has the size and athleticism to allow them to compete with Harvard.