Saturday, December 29, 2012

For Hofstra Fans, It's Not As Bad As It Seems

If you are one of my marines, aka the few, the proud, the readers of my site (or my now 300 plus Twitter followers), even though I make Columbia, South Carolina my home, you know I bleed blue and gold.  I still have my Pride season tickets and I was in Brooklyn last weekend for their Barclays Center debut.

It's been a very rough last couple of months for the Hofstra Pride.  First their two best players, Taran Buie and Jamal Coombs-McDaniel were suspended for violation of team rules, which sparked concerns about their previous problems at other schools.  Second there was of course the arrests of the four players, two starters and two key reserves, on burglary charges. Right now, there is currently the eight game losing streak, punctuated by a 20-0 Tulane second half run at the Barclays Center last Saturday.  Finally, when maybe his return would spark some hope with the Pride faithful, it was learned last Friday that Coombs-McDaniel would be out for the season (and perhaps longer) due to problems with his micro-fracture surgery on his knee.

Some might tell you, like the Statler to my Waldorf, aka Defiantly Dutch, that Hofstra has no luck at all. You could say the Pig Pen dark cloud years started with the NCAA Tournament snubbing of Hofstra in 2006, when our "arch rival", the team the Pride beat convincingly both times that season, George Mason, made it as an large team while Hofstra had to settle for the NIT and Tom O'Connor conspiracy theories.

Then the Patriots proceeded to twist the knife in that wound by making the Final Four that season.  Until Florida knocked off Mason in the semis, Hofstra was the last team to have beaten them that season.  It was followed up by the next season, where Hofstra, the preseason favorite to win the CAA, went down in flames to "arch rival" George Mason and a late game vapor lock by Greg "Playstation" Johnson in the CAA Tournament quarterfinals.

Then there was Tom Pecora in 2011 leaving behind a successful team that had Charles Jenkins for a bigger payday and finally achieving his goal of being in the A-10 by taking the Fordham head coaching position. This resulted in the abdication of Hofstra by two All CAA Rookies in Chaz Williams and Halil Kanacevic.  Then there was the infamous thirty days of  Tim Welsh as coach of the Pride until a DWI arrest and failure to let the then athletic director Jack Hayes know about the arrest resulted in his resignation.  

Despite what turned out to be a heroic aftermath of the 2010-11 season led by new coach Mo Cassara and Charles Jenkins that resulted in 21 wins, a third place finish in the CAA (where the other top three teams made the NCAA Tournament) and their first CAA Tournament semifinal appearance since 2006, there was always a "What if" had Kanacevic and Williams stayed.   That was followed with an ugly 10-22 record last season which included a 3-15 conference record, topped with a drubbing by Georgia State in the first round of the CAA Tournament.  Which leads us to all that has happened with this season.

Heck, you could even say that the dark years started after the last NCAA Tournament appearance in 2001, when Jay Wright packed up and left for Villanova, which turned out to be a great move for him.  Yes, Hofstra hasn't made a NCAA Tournament appearance since Wright's departure.

Well, when I was reviewing the draft of Alan Kelly's  George Mason vs. Richmond recap article, the idea for this article hit me.  Despite all the bad that has seemingly happened the last six, heck even eleven years, Hofstra has had it good compared to many other teams, including many in the CAA.  

Let's look at some facts since the start of the 2001-02 season. 
  1. Hofstra has had six winning seasons and five seasons of twenty or more wins. Compare that to Tom Pecora's Fordham, who has had one winning season over the past eleven seasons, the 2006-07 season when the Rams were 18-12 and no twenty win seasons.  St John's has had five winning seasons, three with 20 or more wins. Stony Brook has had three winning seasons during that time,  two seasons with twenty or more wins. Manhattan has had six winning seasons, four with twenty or more win seasons. Iona has had four winning seasons, all with twenty plus wins. LIU Brooklyn has had three winning seasons, two twenty plus win seasons.

    As far as CAA comparisons, Drexel has had seven winning seasons since the start of the 2001-02 season, but only three times with twenty or more wins. James Madison has had two winning seasons, both with twenty or more wins. Northeastern has had six winning seasons, two times with twenty or more wins. William and Mary has had  two winning seasons with one twenty plus winning season. Delaware has had three winning seasons, but no twenty or more win seasons. Towson has had no winning seasons in the past eleven seasons.
  2. Hofstra has three NIT appearances since 2001-02 season. St John's has two NCAA appearances and one NIT championship. Manhattan has two NCAA tournament appearances and one NIT appearance.  Iona has two NCAA Tournament appearances.  LIU Brooklyn has two NCAA tournament appearances.  Drexel has five NIT appearances. Stony Brook has two NIT appearances.  Northeastern has two NIT appearances. William and Mary has one NIT appearance.  Delaware, James Madison and Towson have no NIT appearances.
  3. Hofstra has one player in the NBA, Charles Jenkins (who sealed Golden State's seven point win last night over Philadelphia with a steal and two free throws with eleven seconds left).  Of the current other CAA teams, only ODU (Kent Bazemore, Jenkins' teammate on Golden State), Northeastern (Minnesota's Jose Juan Barea) and Towson (San Antonio's Gary Neal) have NBA players as well.
  4. Hofstra has made at least the CAA Tournament semifinals three times including their inaugural 2001-02 season.  Drexel has made at least the CAA Tournament semifinals three times as well.  Since they joined the Colonial in the 2005-2006 season, Northeastern has made the CAA Tournament semifinals twice, while since 2001-02 Delaware and William and Mary have each made the semis twice (with William and Mary also making the finals twice as well) and Towson made it once.  James Madison has never made the CAA Tournament semifinals in the last eleven seasons.
I did not include for comparison purposes George Mason, ODU and UNC Wilmington, because, in fairness, they have each made at least three NCAA tournament appearances in that time frame - UNCW has three NCAA appearances - 2002, 2003, 2006. ODU has four NCAA appearances - 2005, 2007, 2010 and 2011 and an NIT appearance in 2006.  George Mason's NCAA appearances were of course 2006, 2008 and 2011.

So if you look at the numbers, you can say that Hofstra may not have the number of NCAA tournament appearances of several teams CAA teams like Mason, ODU or UNCW or local teams like St John's, Manhattan, Iona and even LIU Brooklyn.  But as far as winning seasons, twenty or more win seasons and NIT appearances, they are on par or ahead of most CAA and local teams.  

Then if you look at the big picture of other national major, mid major or low major teams that have struggled for years, things look brighter for Hofstra.  For example, until this season, Canisius hasn't had a winning season in this century.  Since they joined Division I in the 2005-06 season, Kennesaw State hasn't had a winning season and including so far this season, the Owls have won a total twelve games since the beginning of the 2010-11 season. 

USF has a legendary history as far as NCAA championships, thanks to Bill Russell.  San Francisco won two national championships in 1956 and 1957 with Russell and made an additional Final Four appearance in 1958. Yet, despite having five winning seasons since 2001-02, the Dons have had only one twenty or more win season in the past eleven seasons and haven't made the NCAA Tournament since 1998.

Providence has made the NCAA Tournament fifteen times and made the Final Four twice in their storied history.  Yet since the 2001-02 season, the Friars have made the NCAA Tournament only once, have three NIT appearances and only one twenty plus win season among their four winning seasons in that time frame.

DePaul has twenty two NCAA Tournament appearances and two Final Four appearances.  Yet they only have one NCAA appearance since the 2001-02 season (2004), three NIT appearances (defeated Hofstra in 2007) and three twenty or more win seasons during that time frame.  The Blue Demons have not had a winning season since the 2006-07 season.

These are just a few examples of colleges with struggling programs.  Several such as Providence (who lost to Brown last night), DePaul and San Francisco have long, storied programs.  There are many other schools that would love to have had six winning seasons, five twenty plus win seasons and three NIT appearances the past eleven seasons.

Yes, Hofstra is struggling right now and that is mainly due to injuries and suspensions, not to lack of talent - see their win over South Dakota State, the only team to have defeated New Mexico and that was at the Pit.  Will it take some time for Hofstra to regain its footing in the CAA?  Likely.  But it may not take the four seasons that it took Tom Pecora to turn Hofstra into a winning program.

Despite the last season and a half, Hofstra fans need to look at the longer body of work of this basketball program.  Compared to a lot of other Division I programs over the past eleven seasons, there is a lot to be thankful for if you are a Pride fan.  It just may not look that way right now. 

No comments:

Post a Comment