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Previewing Hofstra: Pride need transfers to thrive

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Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Hofstra @ StatSheet
Hofstra roster
Hofstra schedule
Hofstra 2014 stats

Hofstra Offense 13-14
Four Factors Percent National Rank
eFG% 48.4 220
TO% 18.8 211
OR% 35.5 40
FT Rate
45.1 57

If you're a coach leaving one school for another, you may as well bring two of your top scorers with you. That's what I always say. And that's head coach Joe Mihalich's inititial strategy for reviving a Hofstra program that exploded spectacularly both on and off the court under his predecessor, Mo Cassara. In 2013, which was Cassara's last, the Pride won only seven games.

Mihalich's first year on the job wasn't much better, but he just may have concocted himself a get-contending-quick scheme that pays off in 2015. When he left his gig at Niagara for Hofstra, guard Juan'ya Green and guard/forward Ameen Tanksley came with him. Both started every game for the Purple Eagles (yeesh, who thought this was a good idea for a nickname?) in 2013; both scored in double figures. Green averaged 16.5 points per contest, earning a first-team All-MAAC selection in the process.

They sat out last season as Hofstra struggled along to 10 wins overall and an eighth-place (out of nine) finish in the CAA. Now Mihalich is adding them to a couple solid pieces that were already on hand at Hofstra and another potential key transfer in former SMU guard Brian Bernardi.

The remake is so significant that a pair of guys who were regular starters a season ago came off the bench in the team's opener against Jacksonville. That includes guard Dion Nesmith, who was second on the team in scoring at 13.3 PPG. The Pride lost leading scorer Zeke Upshaw to graduation but are nonetheless eying a finish near the top of the Colonial. In the preseason coaches' poll, they were picked third.

It's tough to go from an eighth-place finish, watch your high-usage offensive linchpin graduate, and somehow still end up not only better, but contending for a conference title the following year. These guys might be good enough to accomplish it.

Starters

Juan'ya Green (6-2, 195) -- You know, a lot of this Hofstra turnaround story feels awfully convenient. A little too convenient, even. While I cannot prove anything dishonest or counter to the laws of nature is going on, I believe I found the key to unraveling to all. BEHOLD

Green's shooting at Niagara 2FGM-2FGA (2FG%) 3FGM-3FGA (3FG%) FTM-FTA (FT%)
2012 (FR) 127-285 (44.6) 61-180 (33.9) 148-185 (80.0)
2013 (SO) 120-269 (44.6) 56-169 (33.1) 138-171 (80.7)

That is startling consistency, no? Now, bear with me on this, but let's just say--speaking totally hypothetically--that you had made a breakthrough in your top secret basketball robot project. You don't make this robot the second coming of LeBron James right out the gate, and you surely don't insert this first-run basketball robot man into a high-profile program surrounded by a herd of nosy scribes.

Instead, you'd probably want to stay as far from detection as possible without ruining the end goal, which is either world domination or a national championship but certainly not both. So you make this robot pretty good at the outset, and you keep the conditions consistent--schedule, playing time, home floor--while you iron everything out. If an arm happens to fall off or something then it's whatever you're in the MAAC and no one saw it.

I just don't see how any non-robot could post numbers like the above in back-to-back years. There's more.

Green's production at Niagara Assist Pct.
Block Pct.
Steal Pct.
FT Rate
2012 (FR) 27.4 1.2 3.0 39.8
2013 (SO) 26.9 1.3 2.9 39.0

This is a human person? Get real, buddy! What we are seeing here is the residue of a careless mistake. Clearly he was programmed with outputs at a certain rate in every category by his handlers/creators, and then once those people were lost in their hubris following his successful debut, they forgot to alter anything prior to the second season. You know, to reflect a normal basketball growth curve and such. Instead the Greenbot remained frozen in time, the slight changes in production merely the result of changes in the variables around him.

I'll have to stop here, as I must adjourn to conclude my hearty leaflet on this subject. If you would like a copy of this leaflet or any other of my works ("What are Roy Williams' ties saying to your mind?" is a popular selection.), please let me know below.

Brian Bernardi (6-2, 195) -- Bernardi came off the bench during his lone season at SMU, knocking down 41.8% of his three-point attempts. He only took 55 of them, which ain't much of a track record to speak of, but it looks like he will be Hofstra's biggest outside threat. More than two-thirds of his shots in college have been from three-point range; he was 6-of-8 from deep in his Hofstra debut.

Malik Nichols (6-6, 210) -- The junior college transfer is in his first season at the D-I level, making him a wildcard for now. He scored 15 points in the first game of the season for Hofstra.

Ameen Tanksley (6-5, 230) -- He'll take his share of threes, though like Green he's only been average from outside during his career. His two-point accuracy was good enough in 2013 to make him a passable secondary option, but I'd imagine his lack of size will continue to be a problem.

Moussa Kone (6-8, 230) -- Kone easily led the Pride in shot blocking last season, he is a career 55% shooter inside the arc, and he's a good rebounder at both ends of the floor. But last year he averaged 6.5 fouls per 40 minutes, which was no aberration.

Bench

Dion Nesmith (6-1, 215), Jamall Robinson (6-5, 205), Andre Walker (6-10, 230), Rokas Gustys (6-9, 260). Nesmith is coming of a year in which he shot better from three (39.4%) and from two (38.7%). That's always fun. He might be better off becoming more of a three-point specialist as opposed to the primary scorin' type he was in 2014, but what do I look like, a doctor?

Robinson is another one of these guard-forward dudes who'll shot some threes but generally not too well (29.5%) and shoot some twos but also generally not all that well (43.5%). Walker and Gustys are freshmen.

Hofstra Defense 13-14
Four Factors Percent National Rank
eFG% 51.9 273
TO% 15.8 328
OR% 30.9 145
FT Rate
41.2 192

Hofstra is going to need its new guys to turn this mess around if the Pride are going to be CAA contenders. To some degree the Pride were unlucky last season, as opponents took a bunch of threes and shot nearly 38%, but they were also just plain bad in crucial ways. The interior defense was only average, and as you can see, they weren't very disruptive. The team's steal and block rates were low, contributing to their ugly defensive TO%.

The Pomeroy Predictor likes NC State by 15. (Should note here that the preseason Pomeroy Ratings are likely underrating Hofstra considerably because there's no real accounting for transfers.)