December 6, 2012 | 644 views
Hofstra looks to overcome adversity
After an outstanding first season as Hofstra men’s basketball coach, the 2011-12 campaign was a tough one for Mo Cassara. The Pride finished a disappointing 10-22 (3-15 in the Colonial Athletic Association.) Playing in the challenging CAA, and facing tough non-conference competition, the road didn’t look rosy as Hofstra began Cassara’s third season.
Things got off to an inauspicious start for the Pride. First, Cassara was forced to suspend Connecticut transfer Jamal Coombs-McDaniel and Penn State transfer Taran Buie for the opening two games for violating team rules. Then last week, Shaquille Stokes, Jimmy Hall, Dallas Anglin, and Kentrell Washington were arrested for allegedly stealing laptop computers, iPads and other items from dorm rooms. The university suspended the four players for the team and from attending classes. Stokes and Hall were both starters.
Prior to the controversy, the optimistic Cassara was intrigued by his team. “I really believe this is going to the beginning of a great run,” Cassara said as he addressed the media in October. “We have new players, a lot of moving parts, and veterans taking on new roles. We have a good chance to be playing very good basketball toward the end of the season.”
The results in the early going haven’t been good for the Pride. The team’s record stands at 3-5 after a 73-47 home loss to Southern Methodist last Saturday. Graduate student Stevie Mejia had 11 points, three assists and three steals for Hofstra.
Mejia is one of the players that Cassara will rely heavily upon. The 5-foot-9 point guard averaged 6.0 points and 2.3 assists per game in 2011-12. Mejia, who played a pair of seasons at the University of Rhode Island prior to arriving at Hofstra, scored a career-high 22 points in a 103-100 overtime win over Marshall on Nov. 18. He also came up big with 14 points, seven rebounds, and three assists in a win over South Dakota State.
Stokes, who was averaging 10 points per game, scored 26 in the victory over Marshall. Hall scored 16 points and pulled down 14 rebounds to record his second double-double of the season. The win was the third straight for the Pride.