I'll Be Quirky: Hofstra Heads Into CAA Play With Plenty Of Momentum

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Hofstra will head into the CAA season with some momentum after capping the non-conference portion of its schedule with double-digit wins over Princeton last Wednesday and Manhattan on Sunday. 

The Pride, which has won three straight, opens CAA play Saturday against James Madison before visiting Towson on Monday. 

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Here’s a look at some facts and figures from the Princeton and Manhattan wins as well as a quick look ahead to the Dukes and Tigers.

The VBK Bowl

Eli Pemberton scored 27 points, one shy of his career-high, and Desure Buie finished with 13 points, seven rebounds and seven assists as the Pride beat Princeton, 87-72, last Wednesday. The win over the Tigers came in the first game between the teams since Dec. 6, 1991, when Hofstra was coached by Butch van Breda Kolff, who was also Hofstra’s coach in the Flying Dutchmen’s first game against Princeton during the 1955-56 season. Van Breda Kolff, a Princeton grad, left Hofstra to coach Princeton following the 1961-62 season. 

The Pride Takes Manhattan

Pemberton and Buie had 19 points apiece Sunday and Issac Kante (14 points, 11 rebounds) had a perfect shooting day on his way to a double-double as the Pride beat Manhattan, 63-51. Hofstra is 24-42 all-time against Manhattan, whom it has faced more than any other non-conference foe.

Joe's Got The Wright Stuff

With the win over Princeton, Joe Mihalich broke a tie with some guy named Jay Wright for fifth place on the all-time Hofstra wins list. Mihalich is now 124-85 in six-plus seasons. Wright was 122-85 in seven seasons. Mihalich is 22 wins behind fourth-place Frank Reilly, who coached the then-Flying Dutchmen from 1947-1955.

Lucky Thirteen

Hofstra is 9-4 through 13 games, which is tied for the 17th-best 13-game start in program history. The Pride was most recently 9-4 in 2015-16.

The Non-Conference Season

The Pride finished the non-conference season with a winning record for the sixth straight season and the 13th time in 19 seasons since joining the CAA. The nine wins in non-conference play are tied for the second-most for Hofstra in the CAA era. The 2014-15 team also went 9-4 while last year’s team was 10-3 after winning the final seven games of the non-conference schedule. In addition, Joe Mihalich-coached teams have posted a winning record in non-league play 12 times in 21 seasons. (Bracket Buster games played in February not included in non-conference records through the start of league play)

KenPom Ponderings

Hofstra continued to Born In the USA*** the KenPom rankings this week. The Pride jumped from 149 prior to the Princeton game to a league-best 134 as of this morning. That all but ensures Hofstra will begin the league season as KenPom’s top-ranked CAA team. This is the third time this season the Pride has been atop the CAA’s KenPom rankings. 

Hofstra was at No. 120 in the preseason and fell as low as fourth before bouncing back to the top spot with a ranking of 122 prior to the St. Bonaventure game. Hofstra is nine spots ahead of Northeastern in a jam-packed CAA in which the top five teams are separated by 25 spots and the top six teams are separated by 59 spots. 

***Bruce Springsteen’s Born In The USA hit the top spot of the Billboard album charts three times in 1984-85.

Honors For Pemberton

Eli Pemberton was named the CAA’s player of the week after he collected 46 points in the wins over Princeton and Manhattan. The player of the week honor is the third of Pemberton’s career and his first since he split the award with Northeastern’s Vasa Pusica for the week ending Jan. 21.

A Triple Double Flirtation

Desure Buie flirted with the second triple-double in program history last Wednesday, when he had 13 points, seven rebounds and seven assists against Princeton. He is the third Hofstra player since 2010-11 (the first season CollegeBasketballReference.com has individual boxscores in its Play Index feature) to finish with at least 10 points, seven rebounds and seven assists in a game. 

Juan’ya Green had six such games and Charles Jenkins did it once. Green had Hofstra’s lone triple-double on Dec. 28, 2014, when he scored 15 points and finished with 10 rebounds and 10 assists against Long Island University.

Desure Buie came within striking distance of the second triple-double in program history Wednesday, when he collected 13 points, seven rebounds and seven assists against Princeton. Buie is just the third Hofstra since the 2010-11 season (the first season in which the CollegeBasketballReference.com Play Index has individual boxscores) to record at least 10 points, seven rebounds and seven assists in a game. 

Juan’ya Green did it six times — including Dec. 28, 2014, when he recorded Hofstra’s first triple-double by finishing with 15 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists against Long Island University — and Charles Jenkins did it once. Through Friday, there have been 81 instances this season in which a Division I player has finished with at least 13 points as well as seven rebounds and seven assists.

Ray Of Light

Jalen Ray picked up two early fouls against Princeton and didn’t score in the first half. He ended with 14 points, which made him the first Hofstra player to reach double digits after a scoreless first half since Tareq Coburn also scored 14 points in a 104-99 overtime loss to James Madison on Feb. 23.

Stafford's Surge

Stafford Trueheart had 11 points, six rebounds and two blocks in 18 minutes off the bench against Princeton. He entered the game with 11 points, 15 rebounds and no blocks in 65 minutes over his first four games (he missed the first four games with an injury). The 11 points were the most for Trueheart since he collected a career-high 14 points against North Carolina A&T on Nov. 14, 2018. The six rebounds were his most since he set a career-high with 13 rebounds against Rosemont on Dec. 22, 2018. The multi-block game was his first since Trueheart had two blocks against Delaware last Dec. 28.

Kan Do

Isaac Kante didn’t miss a shot Sunday, when he was 6-for-6 from the field and 2-for-2 from the free throw line. He is just the third Hofstra player in the CAA era to make at least five field goals without a miss and also hit at least two free throws without a miss. 

Kenny Adeleke was also 6-of-6 from the field and 2-of-2 from the free throw line against Illinois State on Nov. 25, 2001 while Jacquil Taylor scored 18 points on 7-of-7 shooting from the field and 4-of-4 shooting from the free throw line against James Madison in the CAA quarterfinals March 10. 

Kante is the 10th Hofstra player to enjoy a perfect game from the field (minimum five attempts) since the 2001-02 season. Taylor had six such games last season.

The Defense Didn't Rest

With the win over Manhattan, the Pride has now won its last 25 games in which it held the opponent under 60 points. The Pride is 26-1 under Joe Mihalich when holding an opponent to fewer than 60 points. The only loss was absorbed Feb. 10, 2014, when Hofstra fell to James Madison, 59-53. The 52 points allowed Sunday are tied for the seventh-fewest allowed by Hofstra in the Mihalich era.

Who Has The Longest Double-Digit Scoring Streak Now?

As you may have heard, Justin Wright-Foreman enjoyed a monstrous final three seasons at Hofstra before he graduated and was drafted by the Utah Jazz in June. Wright-Foreman ended his Pride career by scoring in double figures in his final 88 games, a school and CAA record. The longest streak of consecutive double-digit scoring efforts now belongs to Desure Buie, who has scored at least 10 points in nine straight games. 

What's A Unicorn Score & How Many Do The Pride Have Now?

A unicorn score is a score by which the Pride have never won before. Six of the nine wins this season have been via unicorn scores. Neither of last week’s wins came via a unicorn score. Hofstra most recently beat UNC Wilmington, 87-72, on Jan. 17 and beat local rival St. John’s 63-52 on Dec. 29, 2006.

Hofstra had 10 unicorn scores last season. The term unicorn score was coined by New York Mets superfan, historian and blogger Greg Prince to describe a score by which the Mets had never previously won. 

What's Next

The Pride opens CAA play Saturday at James Madison. Hofstra beat Delaware, 91-46, in last year’s league opener to improve to 10-8 in CAA openers and 4-2 under Joe Mihalich. The Pride is 20-13 all-time against James Madison. The two teams played three times last season, when they split the regular season meetings before Hofstra earned a 76-67 win in the CAA quarterfinals.

Hofstra then heads further up the eastern seaboard for a Monday date with longtime multi-conference rival Towson. The Pride swept the Tigers last season and are 43-26 in the all-time series that dates back to the 1982-83 season, when both schools were in the East Coast Conference. 

Hofstra and Towson also opposed each other in the North Atlantic Conference/America East before moving to the CAA in 2001-02. The only schools Hofstra has faced more than Towson are fellow ECC/NAC/America East/CAA rivals Delaware and Drexel.

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