With the excitement of a last-second win over Ball State abated (never thought I’d type that sentence), the Flyers turn their buoyant eyes towards the Holy City. Although this tournament doesn’t offer the type of competition we’ve been accustomed to, it’s probably for the best. You know the drill, go 2-1 blah blah blah.
The Pride enters the GILDAN CHARLESTON CLASSIC with a perfect 2-0 record, racking up wins against Army and Kennesaw State. Although I am concerned about our Armed Forces not handling a private school from Long Island, neither of these victories indicate much of anything in the grand scheme of things (this is where I should insert some misleading tripe claiming UD’s miracle win over Ball State says something about the team’s “will to win” or “ability to face adversity,” but I won’t, you guys deserve better).
Hofstra returns three starters from last season’s 15-17 team, a significant fallback from 24 wins the year before. Coach Joe Mihalich’s squad was picked fourth in the Colonial’s preseason poll, so there’s some optimism floating around Hempstead. The Pride were an absolute nightmare defensively last season, allowing 76.7 points per game and ranking 311th in defensive efficiency. Hofstra gave up 80 points or more seventeen times last year, losing fourteen of those games. Coach Joe relied on a lot of zone the past two seasons but appears ready to ditch it for some man-to-man this year. It’s had positive results, although much of that can be attributed to the level of opponent Hofstra has squared off against in their first two games.
Justin Wright-Foreman (20.5 ppg / 5.0 rpg / 4.0 apg) is the name you will hear plenty of come Thursday night. Wright-Foreman is going to get up a shit load of shots, like a comical amount of attempts. After putting up 25 shots up against Army, Wright-Foreman chilled a bit and only got off 13 attempts against Kennesaw State. Around half of these bombs were launched from three-point land, with only five of his eighteen shots connecting (27%). JWF takes 35% of the Pride’s shots when he is in the game, which is just an insane usage rate. That being said, he led the Colonial in scoring last year, 23.2 points per game, and was named to the Preseason All-Colonial Athletic Association First Team. I can’t see Hofstra winning this game if Wright-Foreman doesn’t score at least twenty, the question is how many shots will it take him to get there.
Rokas Gustys (10.0 ppg / 12.5 rpg / 3.0 apg) is a big old sack of potatoes from Lithuania. He racked up a double-double against Kennesaw State, 14 and 13, and his size, 6’9″/260 lbs, will be an issue. Joel Angus the Third (who knew all these black guys had royal lineage?) is another widebody, 6’6″ and tipping the scales at 240 *wink* pounds. Angus (11.0 ppg / 7.5 rpg) is what you’d call a “lunch pail” kinda guy, a throwback to the time when guys banged around the hoop and did rails at halftime. The good ol’ days. Gustys was the nation’s second leading rebounder in 2015-16 and ranked fourth in the country last year. UD’s bigs will absolutely have to keep this pair off the boards, a stern test indeed.
Joining Wright-Foreman in the starting backcourt are six-foot junior Desure Buie and six-two freshman Jalen Ray. Buie (7.5 ppg / 4.0 apg) runs the point for the Pride, primarily tasked with feeding the ball to his betters. Ray (7.0 ppg / 1.5 apg) just got here and he’s already stealing minutes from the upperclassman. He’s gonna get a code red called on him, trust me. Buie can knock down shots from the perimeter but is not a threat to create his own shot. Ray has been ice cold shooting the ball in his first two college games, but history tells us that there’s nothing like playing Dayton to get you out of a slump.
Hofstra’s bench is led by sophomore guard Eli Pemberton. Pemberton (12.0 ppg / 2.0 apg / 2.0 bpg) was named to the Colonial’s All-Rookie Team last season and for all intents and purposes is the Pride’s sixth starter. He’s an athletic wing with some size, held out of Hostra’s opener against Army “due to a violation of team rules.” Freshman Kenny Wormley was also held out of the Army game ( “due to a violation of team rules”) and is the squad’s lone transfer player. Wormley came to Long Island from Indian Hills (shout out to Brandon Spearman!) with a reputation as a perimeter scorer. He hasn’t shown that ability as of yet.
Gustys is the only player on Hostra’s roster that grew up roping wild dogs in his backyard,. Matija Radovic (6.5 ppg / 6.0 rpg), a 6’7″ Serb with shooting range, adds some lanky length to the Pride frontcourt. I don’t know much about this young man, other than he probably experienced cabbage poisoning at some point of his life, but I do know he loves shooting that three-ball. Thirteen of his fifteen shots have come from beyond the arc this year, where he’s unfortunately only hit 23% of his attempts. Senior Hunter Sabety is another big ol’ boy, listed at 6’9″/260. Sabety (6.0 ppg / 4.5 rpg / 2.0 bpg) is the primary backup for Gustys, does the dirty work around the hoop and is the Pride’s best shot-blocker.
- The first thought on any respectable Flyer fan’s mind should be whether or not the Dynamic Duo, UD Santa and Beret Man, make it down to Charleston. These two have been a curious staple, always there to add a little “what the fuck?” to every early-season tournament viewing. Hope to see these two obviously mentally ill, but definitely sexually active, men throughout the week.
- Rokas Gustys is a preseason nominee for the Karl Malone Award, which is apparently a piece of metal awarded to the nation’s top power forward each season. Remember when Malone got a 13 year-old pregnant when he was a sophomore in college? That shit is wild, ya’ll.
- Here’s a picture of people playing tennis in UD Arena.
- This quote from the Daily Worker got my synapses firing on all cylinders: “Dayton freshman forward Matej Svoboda was back at practice Monday. He said he was fully healthy after missing the opener with a sinus infection. Svoboda watched the game from the locker room at UD Arena.” Why was my man watching the game from the locker room? If you were worried about his infection being contagious, which it most likely isn’t, Svoboda shouldn’t even be at the Arena in the first place. Let him drink it off at home, Anthony.
- I realize it’s a bit early for conference takes, but I feel confident with this statement — Richmond is trash. The Spiders took two brutal losses at home, a thirteen-point drubbing against Delaware followed by an absolute pink-socking at the hands of Jacksonville State. This season looks like Chris Mooney’s Guernica.
Like most men, I am obsessed with size and length, and Hofstra’s got plenty. Your Flyers will need to limit second-chance opportunities for Hofstra and keep Wright-Foreman from going off. I don’t see a lot of defense being played in this one, Hofstra’s reputation precedes itself and it’s clear from the Ball State game that Dayton’s capacity on that side of the ball is a work in progress.I think this one comes to rebounding and easy buckets, advantage Hofstra. The Pride wins a close one, 76-73. The Flyers take on Ohio in the loser’s bracket Friday night.
Tom Blackburn is a proud U. o' D. alum. He loses faith in humanity one day at a time, but not in you, you seem like you are all kinds of alright. Charter member of the T-Man fanclub.