December 5, 2013 | 6052 views
New era for Hofstra men's basketball
The Hofstra men’s basketball program commenced a fresh start for the 2013-14 season.
Joe Mihalich was named Hofstra’s new head coach on April 10 after a successful 15-year run leading Niagara University to five postseason appearances. Mihalich, who replaced Mo Cassara following a 7-25 season, returned only five players but also brought in talented newcomers who early in the season showed an ability to play a successful brand of up-tempo basketball.
“It is so exciting being here,” said Mihalich, who won 265 games at Niagara and led the Purple Eagles to two NCAA Tournaments. “I wake up every day saying to myself what a wonderful opportunity I have.”
The start of the Mihalich era has featured some explosive offense including a convincing 80-58 win against Farleigh Dickinson, as well as a loss to Monmouth, 88-84, in a game where the Pride held an 11-point lead with 10:21 left. Hofstra never trailed Atlantic 10 power Richmond in regulation before dropping an overtime heartbreaker, 74-63. Hofstra also hit 14 three-pointers at defending national champion Louisville and only trailed by five before the third-ranked team in the nation got hot and won 97-69.
Hofstra was picked to finish last in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA), providing even more motivation to thrive this season.
“We’re trying to earn a little respect,” said Milhalich, who last year won the Skip Prosser Man of the Year Award given annually to a Division I basketball coach who exhibits strong character. “We have that [us against the world] mentality.”
Mihalich said he is impressed with the attitude and leadership displayed by the five returnees, which includes forwards Stephen Nwaukoni, Moussa Kone, Jordan Allen, and Darren Payen along with walk-on guard Adam Savion. The group was part of a 2012-13 team that dealt with adversity and a thin roster but managed to stay close in most games.
“I’ll be forever indebted to those guys for their loyalty,” Mihalich said. “They are bedrock guys...You can build your program around people like that.”