Monday, November 8, 2010

Hofstra Downs Molloy in Exhibition Game

In my all years of seeing Hofstra Men's Basketball games, I have to go back to the old America East days for the last time there was a regular season or exhibition Hofstra men's basketball game played on a Sunday.  That was about ten years ago.  Ten years later, here I was on a Sunday afternoon watching the Pride, er sorry Jerry Beach, Flying Dutchmen take on Molloy College in a exhibition game.   Now a game that doesn't count in the overall record may not seem like much, but it was the first real visible evidence of the new Pride team under Coach Mo Cassara.  His first game as a Division I head coach.

Now making the day even more interesting was the fact that I had my two young sons with me at the game.  Matthew has been to a couple of men's and women's games before.  This was Jonathan's first game..ever.   Matthew loves basketball now, so give him a pretzel, as shown, and he's good to go.  Jonathan had been asleep for the better part of an hour before game time, so at the game, he was well, out of it.

Also, it's hard to tell from this picture, but since this was an exhibition game, attendance was free.  Thus there was no assigned seating and I decided to sit in my old season ticket seats, Section 102, Row G.  It was nice to see the game from this perspective again.

Now as you can see from the picture, not many people showed up to see Hofstra play Division II Molloy.  But a good number of friends of mine were there, and Jerry Beach and I were sending out Tweets for the entire first half.  In fact, Beach, aka Mr. Defiantly Dutch even got an article in during the game.  That's probably due to him bringing his Macbook to his seat.  I even made a tweet commenting on that fact.  See if you can find it.

In my case, I was armed with my Canon Powershot camera and my IPod Touch.  I decided to record a few minutes of the game, which resulted in the above YouTube video which captures Mike Moore's four point play.

Molloy jumped out to an early 4-2 lead as ECC Preseason Player of the Year Brian Hutchinson scored the Lions first four points.  But in the battle of the kings of the jungle, the Pride would score the next six points, thanks to the above mentioned Moore four point play and a steal and layup by Charles Jenkins.  Hofstra would never trail again.

However, the Pride struggled with their Division II Doppelganger mascot foes for the entire half.   A John Petrucelli layup with 10:59 left cut the Hofstra lead to two, 19-17.  The Pride would respond with a 13-4 run capped by a Jenkins three to go up 32-21, which would be their largest lead of the first half.   The Lions though would chip away at the lead and another Petrucelli layup would end the half with Molloy only down four, 39-35.

At times Hofstra played well in the first half, shooting 48 percent in the half.  But the defense was at times porous, as Molloy shot nearly 63 percent as Petrucelli sliced his way for fourteen first half points while Hutchinson added twelve.  The only reason the Pride were up at the half was the twelve turnovers they forced but they also committed nine on their own end.   Coach Cassara was often not pleased at his team's first half play.  At one point Cassara yelled a couple of times at guard Yves Jules "Yves, pass the ball!".

The Pride came out and showed a much more intensive mind set in the second half .  Hutchinson attempted only one shot for the entire second half and scored only two points on free throws.   Petrucelli was limited to one of eight from the field for five second half points.   Molloy also didn't help their cause by shooting 10 of 20 from the charity stripe for the entire game.

While as Jenkins led the way in the first half with fifteen points, the Pride showed much more balance in the second half.   Jenkins still had his points, nine, but Mike Moore added eight second half points while Dwan McMillan added six and Brad Kelleher five points.

Still Hofstra would only be ahead by four points, 50-46 with ten minutes left in the game.  However, the Pride would extend the lead to eleven 60-49 with 6:50 left in the game.   Molloy would again cut the lead to single digits.  But then in the span of four minutes the Pride outscored the Lions 14-3 to go up by nineteen, 74-55 and effectively ended the game.   Hofstra would win 76-62.

Let's break the game down by positives and negatives for Hofstra.

Positives - Jenkins was in mid-season form.  Twenty four points on 9 of 16 shooting, five steals, four assists, four rebounds.  McMillan showed that he deserves the starting point guard role with nine points, eight assists and only one turnover.  David Imes continued his solid preseason work with twelve points and great hustle on the court.  Stephen Nwaukoni was a terrific defensive presence off the bench.  In only twelve minutes, Nwaukoni had eight rebounds and really played man to man well on his opponent.  Brad Kelleher showed flashes of his three point form, nailing two front beyond the arc for eight points in seventeen minutes.  The team looked much better defensively in the second half, limiting Molloy's two best players to 1 of 9 from the field

Negatives - While scoring thirteen points,  Mike Moore was off on his outside shot, shooting 2 of 8 from beyond the arc.  He is also not shy about putting up the ball, but needs to be more accurate (and yes, Beach, he looked a lot like another 23, former Pride player Cornelius Vines).   Greg Washington had three blocks, but he was content to shoot fifteen foot jumpers, as usual, and did not show any aggression to take the ball to the basket.  He also doesn't look comfortable with his back to the basket.   Finally, the Pride only played an eight man rotation the entire night.  I don't know if Rolando Brown was hurt, but he did not play along with Paul Bilbo and Shemiye McLendon.  If Nate Lester does not come back this season, the Pride do not seem to have a lot of depth off the bench.

Overall, it was good to see a full college basketball game.  And Hofstra looks to improve on this performance with their first game at home on Saturday, November 13 vs. Farmingdale State.  I will be back in my regular season seats, section 110 Row D on Saturday for the contest as the basketball season officially starts.   Tis a wonderful thing.

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