Mihalich On WFAN: You've Got To Experience Heartbreak Before Euphoria

Hofstra Pride Won CAA Tournament, Earned NCAA Tournament Bid

Moose & Maggie
March 11, 2020 - 1:03 pm

Hofstra men's basketball coach Joe Mihalich will tell any body and every body. He doesn't mind who wants to talk about it. The Pride are Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) Champions and bound for the NCAA basketball tournament. 

The sentiment hasn't been echoed since 2001, when Hofstra last appeared in the tournament. The Pride broke the nearly twenty-year drought when they defeated Northeastern on Tuesday night 70-61. It was a momentthey've been inching closer to feel. 

Hofstra nearly made the tournament last season. The Pride, however, fell shy eight points shy of an automatic berth and the CAA title to Northeastern in last year's tournament final. Mihalich told WFAN's Marc Malusis and Maggie Gray the devastating loss and similar moments are what propelled Hofstra in the latest meeting. 

"The tough moments are the reason we won last night," Mihalich said. "You've got to experience heartbreak to experience euphoria. We've turned that negative into a positive. We didn't let it be the elephant in the room. Our guys talked all year long about unfinished business and Northeastern broke our heart last year. We were one game away ... the pain of losing was a motivation for us."

Guard Desure Buie was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player. He led the Pride with 20 points, adding five rebounds and five assists in what could've been his final game. Fellow senior Eli Pemberton tallied 19 points and notched seven rebounds. Mihalich praised Buie and Pemberton's leadership on the court while he reflected on what most fans in Hempstead, N.Y. don't see on game days. 

"Desure Buie, Eli Pemberton, they're both going to go down as two of Hofstra's all-time greats," Mihalich said. "They got us to the tournament. They've re-written the record books and they're better off the floor. They're incredible leaders. Everybody sees them on the floor during games and how they acting. What everyone doesn't see is how they are in the locker room, what they're like on the team bus and what they're like at practice. Everybody just gets on their backs. The whole team jumps on their backs and they make everybody better. They really make everybody better."

Hofstra is forced to wait until March 15 to find out which program it'll face in the first round. All the Pride can do until Selection Sunday is speculate. Mihalich remarked that it's inevitable the committee would have the Pride face former Hofstra head coach Jay Wright and Villanova to open the tournament. 

"We're going to play Villanova," Mihalich joked. "It's done! Jay Wright, that committee knows what they're doing. We're already looking at Villanova tapes. We're already looking ... It'll be Armani vs. Marshalls."

In 2019, Northeastern was pitted against No. 4-ranked Kansas. The College of Charleston, like Northeastern, earned the 13th seed before it fell to No. 4-ranked Auburn in 2018. Mihalich expects Hofstra to receive a similar seed and recognizes the tall task at hand of being a lower-ranked seed. 

"We're going to play a great team," Mihalich said. "We're probably going to get seeded like fourteenth. I don't think that's the right number but doesn't matter what I think. So we're going to play a top-12 team. They're going to be great. They're going to be bigger, faster, stronger, longer, have more depth, it's going to be a great team."

Click the audio player above to listen to Mihalich's interview in its entirety