Well, since the last time I wrote this, my second son decided he should be born two weeks early and was born Saturday night, November 17th at 11:13 pm. I first found out that my wife was in labor when she called me as I was heading home after the Hofstra overtime win over Manhattan. So I guess you could say I saw two things in labor Saturday night; my wife and Hofstra. :-) Sorry, couldn't resist.
Its actually a very nice segue way into my second half of my CAA preview which features Hofstra, my pick for finishing sixth in the conference. Hofstra’s analysis is more in depth than the others due to my extensive knowledge of the team.
Hofstra – Despite making the NIT, the 2006-07 season was a disappointment to the Hofstra faithful, as a berth to the NCAA tournament was envisioned for the Pride coming off their 2005-06 season. The trio of Loren Stokes, Antoine Agudio and Carlos Rivera lived up to expectations, combining to be the highest scoring guard trio in the nation. Unfortunately, the Pride did not have any frontcourt players to complement their great backcourt. As a result, losses such as the George Mason upset of the Pride in the second round of the CAA tournament were not uncommon as the Pride were outrebounded and outscored by opponents with better frontcourt players.
The 2007-08 season is a season of transition for the Pride, as Hofstra lost Stokes and Rivera due to graduation. Thankfully the cupboard is not completely bare as the first team all CAA Agudio returns for his senior season. Outside of Stokes, Rivera and Chris Gadley (who transferred to Canisius), the rest of the team, including two other starters from last year returns. The problem is finding a second scoring option. Hofstra must find points from Junior point guard Greg “Playstation” Johnson, heralded freshmen Charles Jenkins, Nathaniel Lester and Greg Washington, along with forwards Arminus Urbutis, Mike Davis Sabb, Zygis Sestokas and JUCO transfers Darren Townes and Dane Johnson.
What I have seen so far – I have watched both of Hofstra’s first two games at Holy Cross and at home to Manhattan. There are consistent themes to both games. 1) Agudio will see a lot of double and triple teaming, but will still get his 20 plus points (28 vs. Holy Cross, 30 vs. Manhattan). 2) The scoring options seem limited but there does appear to be a potential major second scoring option. Against Holy Cross, the next leading scorer for Hofstra, Charles Jenkins had 5 in the loss against the Crusaders. But he showed a propensity to drive to the basket strong but missed several layups. Against Manhattan, those shots fell, as Jenkins had 19 in the overtime win over the Jaspers. However Jenkins got most of those points early and Hofstra went away from him in the second half. He did get the ball in overtime and added a few points in that period. The rest of the lineup has not scored much. 3) Despite adding several seemingly talented big men, Hofstra has been lacking on the rebounding end as both Holy Cross and Manhattan rebounded the Pride, often giving those team multiple chances on the offensive end.
Prognostication – Its early, but this season could be a struggle as Agudio will often face double teams as the Pride look to find other scoring options. Jenkins looks to be a solid second scoring option but unless the Pride can find an inside game, they may finish slightly over .500 in conference at best. Arminus Urbutis looks to be able score points but will Pecora’s offense give him the ball enough.
Key Player – Greg Johnson. Johnson must give them solid point guard play, an ability to get the ball not only to Agudio and Jenkins, but the big men as well, and he must be able to hit an open shot. Johnson will get plenty of looks as teams look to double team Agudio, so he must keep them honest. So far in his two games, he has been inconsistent and down the stretch of the second half and overtime periods of the Manhattan game, Johnson found himself on the bench for his lackluster play.
Tomorrow will be the third and final part of the CAA preview as I look at the five other teams in the Colonial.
Note - UNCW got hammered tonight at Indiana, losing 95-71. The Seahawks are giving up a ton of points in their games. In three games, they have given up 91, 89 and now 95 respectively. The Hoosiers shot 60 percent from the field against UNCW. If this continues, Wilmington will have a difficult time winning games in the CAA where the defensive play is much stronger than in their non conference schedule.