Hofstra Pride

2016 CAA Tournament: Hofstra advances to CAA Finals

The CAA Semifinals last year featured two great games and 2016 had the same type of atmosphere…it even included the same four teams. 

Hofstra and William & Mary played in one of the best games of the 2015 season, W&M knocking off Hofstra after Daniel Dixon go-ahead three pointer. Hofstra came into this rematch a year later, as the #1 seed and had revenge on their mind. 

Juan’ya Green and Ameen Tanksley combined for 37 points in Hofstra’s 70-67 victory over William & Mary. Both players didn’t play their best game even though they got the win. Green - the 2015-16 CAA Player of the year - struggled in the first half shooting 1-5 from the field with two turnovers. Green was also on the wrong end of a highlight reel when Greg Malinowki made him stumble with a smooth crossover-stepback three pointer, that gave the Tribe crazy momentum to go into halftime with 34-30 lead. 

Green would eliminate that play from everyone’s memory when he made the biggest play of the game, diming Denton Koon for the go-ahead layup. 

“Lets get it out the way now, we thought about this game for 364 days,” Joe Mihalich, head coach of Hofstra, said about the rematch. “We thought about that loss for a year and I’m glad we got a chance to make up for it.” 

“We should have loss that game today but it’s because of these guy I’m sitting next to [Green and Tanksley] and the other guys in white shirts.” 

Hofstra in the first half struggled to stop the William & Mary due to the ball movement. The Tribe shot 48% from the field and 44% from the three point line. Malinowski led the Tribe with 22 points, shooting 5-8 from behind the arc, 3-4 in the first half. 

Hofstra also seen their big man, Rokas Gustys, have a very tough game inside the paint, picking up his fourth foul at the 8-minute media timeout, with only two points. That turned out to be a blessing for The Pride because it forced them to play small ball which helped them defensively. 

Desure Buie only played 15 minutes but his presence on the court helped the Pride on their rotation to nulify the Tribe’s steady ball movement. Buie, standing only 6’2, was able to be that scrappy defender that caused disruption in the Tribe’s fast pace Princeton offense. 

William & Mary’s star player, Omar Prewitt, had his worst shooting performance of the season, going 1-12 from the field finishing with 5 points. For Prewitt this is the third time he has been eliminated from the conference tournament, losing in the championship game in his freshman and sophomore season. With DIxon and Malinowski - who had his best game of his career - returning, the Tribe will once again be one of the top contenders next season. The question is will they be able to get over the hump? 

Hofstra will make their first appearance in the championship game since 2006 and look to claim their first conference title since joining the CAA in 2001.

Baltimore Madness

Once again I gotta give credit to the Colonial Athletic Conference for bringing their tournament to the city of Baltimore.

With 4 teams remaining, and 1 games left, the pressure and madness increases. 

GAME-WINNER. What an effort by both teams today. #CAAHoops @tribeathletics

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William & Mary vs. Hofstra turned out to be one the greatness I ever witnessed live in action.

It had everything one would want out of a classic basketball game. You had the underdog in Hofstra, who was playing with a chip on their shoulder, losing to W&M twice this season; and you had the heavily-favorite W&M squad forced to make something happen with their back against the wall. 

William & Mary started the game with a 19-9 run, Marcus Thornton, who had a career day with 37 points (CAA Tournament record), scoring 5 of the Tribe's first 9 points.

It look like the Tribe would walk away with this one, but then they would  go 1-6 on their next 7 shots while the Pride took the lead with a 13-2 run. By the end of the 1st half, Hofstra had a 35-32 lead but Marcus Thornton and Omar Prewitt combined for 25 points. 

 Some great individual numbers were posted in this game.

Juan'ya Green led the Pride with 26, shooting 50% from the field and was 4-9 from behind the arc. I was very impressed with the junior from Philadelphia, mainly because he didn't back down from the best player in the conference. When Marcus would make a play, Juan'ya would come back with one of his own.

Just off the top of my head, I'm picking Juan'ya to win the conference player of the year award. 

Senior guard Dion Nesmith scored 21 but fouled out in the first overtime period. 

In the second half, the Pride was up 68-59 with 5 minutes remaining, thanks to 3 straight three pointers, two of which coming from Brian Bernardi. Bernardi scored all of his 17 points in the 2nd half and overtime periods, and was the main reason why the Pride almost won this game.

W&M would go on a 9-2 run, Omar Prewitt being the main contributor for the run, not only by scoring 6 of the 9, but also hitting the boards heavy. 

Bernardi hit another three to extend the lead to five with 1:41 left but the Tribe finished the period with a 5-0 run provided by Marcus Thornton, sending it into overtime. Free throws is what killed W&M, going 19-34 in the 2nd half and overtime periods. 

It's hard to really explain how good this game was. There were a total of 18 lead changes in the final 30 minutes of the game. 4 players scored 20+ and the crowd was the best it been all tournament, not to mention Dixon's game winning shot.

W&M will now try to get the bad taste from last year's final out of their mouth tomorrow night at 7pm against Northeastern. 

CAA Tournament: Hofstra defeats JMU when it counts

James Madison won the season series with Hofstra, defeating them twice. Ron Curry of JMU, dropped 20 in both games, marking his career high January 24th with 25 points. Unfortunately for the Dukes, the term "Third times a charm" was in the Pride's favor. 

Hofstra advances to the semi-final round to play William & Mary, defeating the Dukes 74-57. Like the first two games, this was also a game of runs. In the first half both teams went on runs of their own, creating a back and forth game. JMU fell behind 15-10 in the first 5 minutes of the game, before going on a 10-0 run led by Sophomore Serbian, Dimitrije Cabarkapa, who hit two 3s on that run. Cabarkapa tied his season high with 12 points. 

Hofstra would answer with their own 10-run while JMU went scoreless for 3:45. They then followed it with 12-4 run that gave them a 37-24 lead with three minutes remaining in the game. JMU would end the half with a 9-2 run, trailing 33-39. 

In the second half it was Hofstra. Hofstra was 15-27 from the field while JMU went 9-20. Big man Moussa Kone of Hofstra, was a force in the middle, scoring 12 of his 18 points in the second half, also finishing with 11 boards, his 3rd double-double of the season. Hofstra guards played a big role in Kone scoring, dishing him the rock off the dribble penetration. Juan'Ya Green led all players with 8 dimes.