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Brown: Hofstra Pride Quietly Rolling As Hottest Team In College Hoops

Hofstra Has Won 16 Straight, 19-3 On Season

Jake Brown
January 26, 2019 - 6:37 pm

It's been a while since the Hofstra Pride basketball team has made headlines. It's been even longer since the team was in the NCAA Tournament conversation. In fact, the last time that happened Speedy Claxton, Norm Richardson, Jay Wright and company were running the show in Hempstead back in 2000 and 2001.  

But now, 18 years later, it's time to take notice, because the Pride of Hofstra are rolling. After Saturday's 84-61 blowout win over Towson, Hofstra is now winners of 16 straight games, improving to 16-3 on the season and a perfect 9-0 in CAA play. They also are 12-0 at home at the Mack. 

The Pride won the regular season CAA title in 2015-2016, but have never been able to come through come CAA Tournament time. As a Hofstra alum that graduated in 2013, my stretch there was defined by Charles Jenkins, the all-time leading scorer in program history. Jenkins provided some special moments, but even he couldn't get the team to the Big Dance.

Coach Joe Mihalich has really done a lot to turn this program around, bringing in the right recruits, after a period of doom and troubles on and off the court that they dealt with. Last year was the start and now this year is the culmination. Justin Wright-Foreman has established himself as one of the nation's top players and not many people are talking about him. Since Hofstra is in the CAA, which isn't what it used to be with George Mason and VCU in the conference, they don't get much attention. It has taken a few SportsCenter Top 10 highlight reels for people to have their eyes on the Pride.

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Wright-Foreman had an insane buzzer-beating three to beat Northeastern on Jan. 5 that made it to SportsCenter. Recently, guard Eli Pemberton made a full-court three to beat the buzzer at the half, helping the Pride beat JMU on the road. Wright-Foreman, a senior guard, was a standout last season, averaging 24.4 PPG, but now has taken his game to an elite level. He's averaging 26 PPG with 4.7 RPG and 3.4 APG. He's shooting 50.8% from the field, 41.5% from downtown and 88.4% from the free-throw line. All of those numbers are the best of his college career, and he has a great chance to be drafted in the NBA this summer. 

It's been a long and painful road if you're a Hofstra alum like me. We have seen controversy from Tim Welsh getting hired to replace Tom Pecora as head coach to then having to resign a few days later after getting arrested for a DWI. We saw Mo Cassara take over and deal with all sorts of issues off the court, including players stealing laptops from students to suspension and beyond. Mix that with plenty of losing on the court, and it's been a forgettable stretch for the program that finally has put the dark days behind them.

It's only fitting that Speedy Claxton is on the sidelines next to Mihalich as one of his assistants. He helped the 1999-2000 Pride team to the NCAA Tournament under head coach Jay Wright. Most people forget that Wright's success began in Long Island with the Pride, back in their final years in the AEC, before they joined the CAA in the 2001-2002 season. 

What's different this year? It might not take a few wins in the CAA Tournament for Hofstra to get in. With how well they have played and the win streak they are on, they have a chance to be at an at-large bid this season. Their only losses came to No. 13 Maryland, a two-point road loss to VCU and a four-point road loss to Marshall. Hofstra's RPI is right around 50. Their problem has been winning the CAA Tournament, which has now become almost the only way for any team in this conference to get in the NCAA Tournament.

Things may change this year, especially if this win streak keeps going. The Pride have nine games remaining in the regular season before they head to Charleston for the CAA Tournament. It's hard to deny there's always been somewhat of a southern bias in the conference, but it's going to take Tim Donaghy to take these boys down come March. Hofstra is not just winning, but they are blowing some of their opponents out. There's also only three other teams over .500 in the 10-team CAA. If Hofstra enters the CAA Tournament around 25-27 wins and CAA regular season champions, it's hard to see the committee not give them a strong look as an at-large big.

Roll Pride. 

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