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College Preview | Top 144 Previews | More Interviews

By Shawn Siegel

August 4th, 2006


Hofstra: Tom Pecora


Tom Pecora is entering his sixth season as Hofstra head coach.  His tenure has been highlighted by steady improvement, as the Pride have gone 47-16 the past two years.  With the return of senior stars like Loren Stokes and Antoine Agudio, this could be Pecora's best season yet.



Shawn Siegel (CHN): Is it safe to assume the backcourt is the strength of this year's team?

Tom Pecora:  The strength of this year's team will be without question our backcourt. Loren (Stokes), Carlos (Rivera) and Antoine (Agudio) are going into their fourth years in the program (Agudio was a medical redshirt as a freshman), and they give us guard play that can match up with any team in the country. We will go as far as those three guys take us. Loren has been our MVP for each of the last three years and is really a pleasure to coach. He can fill up a stat sheet as well as anyone I've ever coached - he can score, rebound, create for others, and defend. Antoine is far and away the best three-point shooter in school history, but he has done a great job at improving his all-around game since he's been here. He can slash to the basket, has a solid mid-range game, and can make a big pass just as easily as a big shot. Carlos has really become the steadying influence of the group. He played all 120 minutes in the conference tournament last year without committing a turnover. He is a great competitor, and he has deep shooting range to help stretch the defense.


CHN: What about any problem spots?


TP: Our weakness will be that we don't have as much experience in the frontcourt after losing our two senior starters. We will have good depth, so we should be able to rotate big bodies if we need to, but we will need someone to emerge as a low post scoring threat to help balance the offense.


CHN: Who are currently the team leaders?


TP:  Our leadership comes back to our three guards [Stokes, Rivera, Agudio]. The best thing I can say about those guys is that they just simply love to play. They are gym rats, sometimes we have to turn off the lights in the arena to get them to leave. All of them lead by example both on and off the court. They love to compete, and they are so unselfish. They are always willing to make the extra pass or dive after the loose ball, and that stuff becomes contagious. 


CHN: Discuss the incoming guys for a bit. Who will make the biggest impact?

TP: We have four incoming freshman this year. Charles Jenkins and Sal
Patricio are local guards from Queens. Charles is a bigger, more
physical guard who can play both guard positions. He showed great
leadership last year at Springfield Gardens High School and can help us
match up with bigger guards defensively. Sal is a lot like the guards
that we have now in that he can score from anywhere on the floor and
handle the ball effectively. Up front we are bringing in Mantas
Leonavicius and Greg Washington. Mantas has a rare combination of
toughness, intelligence and skills, and he will help us continue the
Lithuanian connection that has been good to us in recent years. Greg is
tremendously athletic for a 6-10 kid, and will give us a different look down low. We think the sky is the limit for how good he can be. All four freshmen will be given the chance to contribute next year, but the two big guys will probably need to help more right away due to the minutes available in the post.



CHN: How hard will it be to replace the outgoing seniors? Who is ready to step up their game instead?


TP:  It will be very tough to replace our two seniors. Adrian Uter was our rock defensively and was an energy guy who could come up with a big
block or a big follow-up dunk to get the team going. Aurimas Kieza caused match-up problems because he could defend the post at 6-8 and he could step out offensively and shoot the three and handle the ball a little. We think that Chris Gadley could be ready to step up and take one of those spots. He's a space eater at 6-9, 260, and he has good mobility for his size.


CHN: What other coaches really helped you reach the level of success you’re at now?  How does their advice and teachings still help you to this day?

TP:  I come from the Rollie Massimino school. Jay Wright and I both worked under Rollie at UNLV, and we both give him all the credit in the
world for where we are now. I think the biggest thing he taught us was
how important it is to get good kids into your program, the type of players who will work hard, go to class, be good teammates, and represent the university well. Rollie taught us a lot about x's and o's as well, but the biggest thing we took from him was how to run a program, not just run a team. .

What are your goals and hopes for this season?

TP:  We have high expectations this season. We will have to figure out
our frontcourt situation, but we wouldn't trade our backcourt for anyone
in the country, and everyone always says that guards win college games.
We are in a very tough conference in the CAA, as we showed last year
with the success of George Mason in the Final Four of the NCAA and Old
Dominion in the Final Four of the NIT. Last year, we were one of the
last teams left out of the NCAA Tournament, so we want to be there
fighting for the CAA championship in March and avoid leaving things up
to the selection committee. I have always said that a team will go as far as their seniors take them, and this year, with two seniors and a redshirt junior in our backcourt, we have a great chance to have a special season.



CHN: Thanks for some good answers coach. Anything else coming up?


TP: I wil be serving as the chairman of the fifth annual Coaches vs.
Cancer golf outing on Monday, August 28 at the Cherry Hill Golf Club in
Garden City, NY. All proceeds benefit the American Cancer Society. This
year, we are honoring legendary New York City high school coach Jack
Curran of Archbishop Molloy High School (he coached George Mason's Jim Larranaga in high school). Past honorees have included Lou Carnesecca, Rollie Massimino, Bill Raftery, and Nick Macarchuk.


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