#106 Hofstra Men's Basketball 2015-2016 Preview

Hofstra Pride

2015-2016 Overall Rank: #106
Conference Rank: #2 CAA

Hofstra Team Page#106 Hofstra Men's Basketball 2015-2016 PreviewBuy Hofstra Basketball Tickets

Since George Mason’s Final Four appearance in 2006, the CAA has not been a particularly good conference. It hasn’t been quite on the same level as the putrid SWAC or WAC, but it’s definitely a step behind top mid-major conferences like the Conference USA and Missouri Valley Conference. However, last season, that was a different story. Northeastern took the CAA Tournament, but other teams like William & Mary and Hofstra were tournament worthy. The Pride may have not won the CAA Tournament, but they certainly made their mark on the CAA world. They finished 13th in the nation in points per game (78.4) and were one of the most fun to watch teams on that side of the ball. If 3rd year coach Joe Mihalich can work on his defensive schemes for next season, the Pride could absolutely take the CAA.

2014-15 Record: 20-14, 10-8
2014-15 Postseason: CBI
Coach: Joe Mihalich
Coach Record: 30-37 at Hofstra, 294-240 overall

Who’s Out:
Only two (relatively) key guys leaving this year for the Pride. One of them is Dion Nesmith, the team’s fourth leading scorer from last season. When you think of the term “4th leading scorer” a number like 7-9 ppg probably pops into your head. Not for Hofstra. Nesmith averaged 11.1 points per game, one of four double digit scorers from a year ago. The 2014-15 campaign was an interesting year for Nesmith. In 2013-14, he was one of the top three players on the team, averaging a team high 13.3 points and dishing out a team high 4.2 assists per game. However, while players like Juan’Ya Green and Ameen Tanksley started to make improvements, Nesmith really didn’t. His scoring dropped (11.1) his passing numbers dropped (2.6) and his minutes dropped (over 6 less per game). However, it wasn’t all bad for the guard. He shot a career best 44.9% from the field and improved dramatically on the defensive end. It’s not Nesmith’s scoring that will be missed next season, but rather his leadership, hustle and smart play on both ends of the ball. Tough wings like that are rare, especially at the mid-major level. The other senior from last year’s team leaving is Moussa Kone. Kone (8.8 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 67.4% FGP, 20.2 MPG) didn’t play as big a role as Nesmith did last season, but he was still a tough, hard hitting big that could go in, do his thing, and get out. His 6.5 fouls per 40 minutes limited his playing time significantly, but he was still a powerful, talented forward that could score and rebound effectively in limited time. He’ll undoubtedly be missed next season.

Who’s In:
Kudos to Joe Mihalich for grabbing yet another class with a lot of talent in not a lot of bodies. Only four newcomers are going to be on next year’s roster, but each of these four guys could become special at the D-1 level. Unranked freshman shooting guard Justin Wright-Foreman out of Queens, New York is an exciting player to watch to say the very least. A freak athlete, Wright-Foreman has extreme bounce in his step. He threw down a ton of exciting dunks in his senior season, and will definitely get some playing time next season based on his athleticism alone. He started to show more of a jumper as his high school career progressed, but he still has a ways to go before he can be considered a two way offensive player. The other incoming freshman is 3 star point guard Desure Buie out of Bronx, New York. A tough, athletic and strong headed guard, Buie has the mentality of a starting D-1 guard. He also has some shooting game too, as he hit over 40% of his deep tries in his final season of high school. The main draw of his game is his decision making and quickness, but he’s also a rock solid defender who can hit open threes and drive the lane when necessary.

Ibrahim Djambo, a former two star recruit who committed to Clemson, will be eligible in 2015-16 after sitting out the 2014-15 season. Djambo was productive in his one season at Clemson, averaging less than 2 points and 10 minutes per game. He also shot a dismal 31% from the field and less than 25% from downtown. However, this guy was recruited by an ACC team, so he obviously has immense potential. He’s a potential double digit scorer stretch four or stretch five if he can stay healthy.  The final recruit is also a transfer. However, unlike Djambo, Denton Koon was actually very effective in his three seasons with Princeton. He averaged around 8.5 points and 3.2 boards per contest. He also showed terrific range in his sophomore season, shooting a great 43% from downtown and over 53% from the field. Those numbers both dropped a little bit in his junior season (25.8%, 40.2%), but he was still a solid scorer who did a lot for his team on both ends of the floor. He’ll look to return to his sophomore form next year.

Who to Watch:
Princeton may have had a great returning trio, but it’s got nothing compared to the three headed monster that’s coming back for the Hofstra Pride. The first of the three returners is 2015 All-ACC first teamer Juan’ya Green. Green, the point guard and leading scorer for the Pride last season, is an extremely talented point guard; and an even more talented scorer. He dished out 6.5 assists per game last season, a new career high for the Niagara transfer. Offensively, he really could beat you in any way imaginable. He shot a mediocre 38.2% from the field, but hit over 33% of his deep tries and showed steady improvement in his midrange game as the season rolled on. Where Green really made his mark, however, was when he drove the lane. He averaged 7.2 free throws per game (and made 82.5% of those tries). He was strong, tough, and relentless in the painted area and often times caused nightmares for imposing bigs patrolling down low. With one more year of eligibility and one last effort to make the NCAA Tournament, Green is going to be a dangerous player to deal with in 2015-16.

The second of the dangerous trio is senior guard Ameen Tanksley. Tanksley was only a second teamer last season, but still averaged 16.2 points per game, 5.5 rebounds per game, and 1.7 assists per game. Like Green, Tanksley also transferred from Niagara after the 2012-13 season. He wasn’t as effective as his point guard friend in either of his two seasons, but was a nice supporting member. When Green was off, it seemed like Tanksley rose to the occasion (and vice-versa). He averaged 5 free throws per game last season which was still good (although that’s not as high as teammate Juan’ya Green’s number). Tanksley doesn’t have the physical tools or skills to average more than Green, but he’ll still be the second leading scorer for a very good offensive team in 2015-16. The final head is junior guard Brian Bernardi. Bernardi didn’t make the All-CAA team last season like his two partners in crime, but he was still a high quality player averaging 11.6 points, 3.1 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and shooting 41.9% from the field. Most importantly, however, he shot 40.1% from three-point land, making him one of the most dangerous snipers on the team. He’s not as talented or versatile as Tanksley or Green, but his shooting and defense will be relied on heavily next season.

Final Projection:
With a couple hungry, dangerous, and excited seniors on next year’s roster, the Pride are not surprisingly one of the frontrunners in the CAA. They will be relying heavily on their backcourt, but it’s pretty easy to do that when they combined for over 45 points per game a year ago. The frontcourt will be relying heavily on former Clemson forward Ibrahim Djambo, which is a little scary considering he averaged less than 2 points and a rebound two years ago. However, if all three of the stud backcourt members can stay healthy and they get some help from the newcomers, this is a team that could be seeing an NCAA Tournament.

Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI/CIT

Projected Starting Five:
Juan’ya Green, Senior, Guard, 17.1 points per game
Brian Bernardi, Junior, Guard, 11.6 points per game
Malik Nichols, Senior, Guard, 6.1 points per game
Ameen Tanksley, Senior, Guard, 16.5 points per game
Ibrahim Djambo, Senior, Forward, DNP last season

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 78.5 (11th in nation, 1st in conference)
Scoring Defense: 70.2 (270, 8)
Field-Goal Percentage: 44.8 (95, 4)
Field-Goal Defense: 43.8 (217, 7)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 8.9 (16, 1)  
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 36.2 (87, 4)
Free-Throw Percentage: 70.0 (139, 5)
Rebound Margin: 2.3 (95, 3)
Assists Per Game: 15.4 (23, 1)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.1 (52, 2)


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