2008-09 Hofstra Preview
Life without Agudio for the Pride
Even though head coach Tom Pecora welcomes back four starters, it's what the one starter not coming back takes with him that is the biggest concern. Antoine Agudio, who left the Hempstead campus as the school all-time leading scorer, will be tough to replace. But the good thing is that Hofstra has enough coming back to make things interesting in the Colonial Athletic Association this season. Sophomore Charles Jenkins, who was named Freshman of the Year in the CAA last season, is the leading returning scorer for the Pride. But they'll also need some seniors to step up and produce at a consistent rate if the Pride are the conference darkhorse that some believe them to be.
2007-08 Record: 12-18 (8-10 CAA; 8th)
Head coach: Tom Pecora (115-100 in seven years at Hofstra)
Assistant coaches: Van Macon, David Duke, Michael Kelly
Home Court: David S. Mack Sports Complex
PPG: Charles Jenkins (15.0)
RPG: Darren Townes (6.7)
APG: Greg Johnson (3.6)
FG%: Townes/Dane Johnson (54.4%)
FT%: Jenkins (78%)
3PT%: Jenkins (32.7%)
Assist/TO ratio: Johnson (1.27)
The leading returnee in the backcourt for Hofstra is sophomore Charles Jenkins, who is a preseason second-team All-CAA selection this year. At 6-3, 220, the Queens native has the body to deal with contact when driving to the basket. But don't assume that Jenkins is merely a slasher, for he has the touch from deep to hurt opponents on the perimeter as well. As for his running mate, look for senior Greg Johnson to be the point guard when the season begins. Johnson, who started twenty-four games last season, led the Pride in assists and was the lone player with more assists than turnovers on the season.
Along with Jenkins and Johnson in the backcourt are two returnees, Nathaniel Lester and Zygis Sestokas. Lester, who averaged 6.3 points per game as a freshman, also has range out to the three-point line. The senior Sestokas may be one of the keys to the season, with the departure of Agudio meaning that the "safety net" is no longer there. Sestokas struggled with his outside shot all year long, and found himself on the fringe of the rotation in conference play. It'll be interesting to see how the new three-point line affects his accuracy (of the seventy-six field goal he attempted only six were inside the arc).
Both newcomers in the backcourt are junior college transfers and will be expected to contribute in the early going. Tony Dennison (Long Island City, NY) and Cornelius Vines (Syracuse, NY) were both JUCO All-Americans last season, with Dennison a member of the second team and Vines the third. While Dennison is more of a scorer and should help carry the scoring load, Vines is a combo guard who will push for time at the point.
The frontcourt has a few returnees as well, beginning with a trio of seniors. Mike Davis-Sabb doesn't offer a whole lot when it comes to scoring, but he's a solid defender who should play more than his ten minutes per game in 2007-08. The two key players up front are classmates Darren Townes and Dane Johnson, both seniors like Davis-Sabb. Townes is Hofstra's leading returning rebounder and his numbers improved once the Pride entered conference play. The same can be said for Johnson, who had an impact once his body was in playing shape. Heading into this season at 265 pounds, the senior big man stands to improve upon his averages of seven points and seven rebounds per game in CAA play.
Just like Johnson, sophomore Greg Washington is 6-10, but he's got a wiry build (210 lbs.) and a developing offensive game. On the other end of the floor, however, Washington has the length to make things difficult for opponents (43 blocks last season). More playing time could equal more production from Washington. Arminas Urbutis finds himself in the same boat as fellow Lithuanian Sestokas in that this is his final opportunity to show that he can be a consistent contributor. Urbutis only played in nineteen games last season, and his impact was minimal when he was on the floor.
Additional depth will come in the form of junior college transfer Miklos Szabo (Szeghalom, Hungary), who was a teammate of Dennison's at Broward CC in Florida. Szabo averaged 15.3 boards per game, an average that led the nation's junior colleges. At 6-9, 250 Szabo has the body and attitude needed to make an impact in the CAA this season.
The preseason poll has Hofstra as the pick for seventh in the eyes of the CAA voters, which is about right to begin the season. But depending on how much Coach Pecora gets from his newcomers, along with what some seniors can supply in the way of improvement, the Pride could find themselves in position to exceed those expectations. Sleeper in the Colonial? That may be a stretch, especially when you look at their schedule in January, but the Pride will knock some teams off in conference play.
2007-08 Team Stats (conference ranking in parentheses)
PPG: 66.3 (6th)
PPG allowed: 69.2 (10th)
FG%: 43.6 (4th)
FG% defense: 41.3 (2nd)
3PT%: 33.3 (8th)
3PT% defense: 33.4 (6th)
FT%: 67.2 (8th)
Rebound margin: +2.9 (3rd)
Assist/TO ratio: 0.62 (12th)