2016-2017 Overall Rank: #125
Conference Rank: #5 CAA
The 2015-2016 season was the year for Hofstra to make some serious noise on a national level. The Pride returned a bevy of talent and were among the favorites to win the CAA title. And they did that part, tying UNC Wilmington with a 14-4 conference record. It was in the CAA title game with a trip to the NCAA Tournament on the line where Hofstra’s season turned from a great year into a disappointment. UNCW knocked off Hofstra in a thrilling overtime game to relegate the Pride to the NIT. And in the NIT Hofstra fell in similar heartbreaking fashion, losing to George Washington 82-80.
2015-16 Record: 24-10, 14-4
2015-16 Postseason: NIT
Coach: Joe Mihalich
Coach Record: 54-47 at Hofstra, 264-203 overall
The expectations for this season are taking a big step back with Juan’ya Green and Ameen Tanksley gone. Green was a big time scorer and averaged 17.8 points and 7.1 assists during his senior season. He was a leader for the Pride in so many ways and on so many levels. His production alone will be nearly impossible to replace, but replacing those intangibles will be impossible. Tanksley was a big, versatile 6-5 wing who could back down smaller defenders in the paint or step outside and consistently hit three-pointers. He was not far behind Green in the scoring department with 15.9 points per game. Coach Joe Mihalich used the same starting five in all 34 games and Denton Koon joined Green and Tanksley in the starting lineup. Koon was the least effective scorer among the group, but still managed 11.4 points per game. The power forward was also second on the team with 6.6 rebounds per contest. As if losing three starters is not enough, Malik Nichols is also gone after spending part of the year as the main forward off of the bench.
With only seven players who saw any significant playing time last year and four of them now gone, Coach Mihalich will need his group of newcomers to be productive from day one. Deron Powers and Hunter Sabety are eligible after redshirting last year and it is Powers who is expected to do big things right away. The transfer from Hampton averaged 10.1 points and 3.8 assists during his junior season with the Pirates back in 2014-2015. He is a proven playmaker and has plenty of Division I experience. That is exactly what Hofstra needs. Sabety spent a couple very productive seasons at Tufts, but transitioning to the DI level could prove difficult. At the least, Sabety is a big body who can help replace Koon and Nichols. The frontcourt will also benefit from the addition of 6-6 junior college transfer Tyquone Greer. The Chicago native was a pretty big recruit coming out of high school, but an unfortunate gunshot wound forced him to the junior college ranks. At Daytona State College last year, he averaged 12.4 points and 7.1 rebounds. Combo guard Elijah Pemberton is the lone incoming freshman, but he is a good one. Pemberton can handle the ball and use his 6-4, 200 pound frame to attack the basket. If he is not starting from day one, Pemberton will be ready to compete for quality minutes off of the bench.
Who to Watch:
Rokas Gustys and Brian Bernardi are the two returning starters and those are two great players to build around. Gustys is the big man in the paint who can beat anybody to a rebound. He is a pretty good scorer too. As a sophomore last season, the 6-9 Lithuanian averaged 13.5 points and 13.0 rebounds. Those are impressive numbers and they could get even better now that the offense will run through him even more. Bernardi is the shooter on the team. He knocked down a team high 87 three-pointers at a 38.8 percent clip. The newcomers could fill in the rest of the starting five with Powers at the point, Pemberton on the wing and Greer at the power forward spot, but there is some other returning talent that will not be ready to give away those starting spots. Desure Buie was the backup point guard last season and showed plenty of promise as a freshman. Jamall Robinson is also back after missing last season. Back in 2013-2014, Robinson was a first-team All-CAA freshman and averaged 9.5 points and 4.2 rebounds. In 2014-2015 his numbers dipped, but the opportunity is there for him to regain his earlier form and turn into a big time scorer for the Pride.
Coach Mihalich did a great job filling in the pieces on this team. He does not need 13 players who can make an impact right now; he needs seven or eight and he has that. Certainly this team is going to be a lot different without Green and Tanksley, but they still have their experienced big man and a great outside shooter. Powers and Buie can handle the point and Robinson and Pemberton are exciting options on the wing. The biggest potential problem area is in the paint beside Gustys. Greer should be fine, but Robinson may have to slide up to the four spot at times when somebody needs a break. Either way, this team is a smaller than they were last year when the 6-8 Koon was eating up space and helping Gustys find room to score or grab rebounds.
Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI / CIT / V16
Projected Starting Five:
Deron Powers, Senior, Guard, DNP last season
Brian Bernardi, Senior, Guard, 12.3 points per game
Jamall Robinson, Junior, Guard, DNP last season
Tyquone Greer, Junior, Forward, DNP last season
Rokas Gustys, Junior, Center, 13.5 points per game
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 78.9 (45th in nation, 2nd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 73.8 (224, 8)
Field-Goal Percentage: 44.6 (144, 4)
Field-Goal Defense: 43.6 (187, 7)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 8.5 (53, 4)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 35.6 (129, 4)
Free-Throw Percentage: 68.9 (206, 4)
Rebound Margin: 2.2 (109, 3)
Assists Per Game: 15.0 (69, 3)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.9 (101, 5)