Posted on: February 3, 2012 12:28 pm
Edited on: February 3, 2012 12:29 pm

Future is brighter for Hofstra and Towson

By Jeff Borzello

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. – It’s been a rough season for both Hofstra and Towson, with the two teams combining for three wins in the CAA and a record of 9-39 overall.

However, over the past seven days, each team has found reasons to be optimistic for the future. Towson snapped a 41-game losing streak with a win over UNC-Wilmington last weekend, while Hofstra beat the Tigers by 25 on Wednesday. Neither team is expected to do much damage in the final month of the season, but the future does look brighter for both programs in the coming seasons.

Clearly, neither team has thrown in the towel on the season. They’re playing hard, practicing hard, and building.

“We haven’t prepared any different,” Towson assistant coach Luke Murray said. “We practiced everyday before Wilmington, and since, with the intensity of a team that was competing for a league title.”

The Tigers still have confidence in themselves, despite the losing streak. With so many young pieces, that’s a good sign.

Hofstra is no different. The Pride had impressive wins over Cleveland State, Iona and Long Island in the non-conference, but have struggled to close out games in the CAA.

The win over Towson should give them a boost heading into the final eight games of the season, when the schedule eases up.

“We had two really good practices this week,” head coach Mo Cassara said. “That’s the sign of a team that hasn’t given up. Sometimes you work harder and coach harder when you’re losing.”

Next season should bring about a completely different season for each team.

Towson currently has Georgetown transfer Jerelle Benimon and South Florida transfer Mike Burwell sitting out; both are expected to start next season, and Benimon could be one of the best forwards in the conference. Incoming freshmen Jerome Hairston and Frank Mason will immediately provide speed and explosiveness at the guard positions, while classmates Barrington Alston and Timajh Parker can provide depth. Sophomores Marcus Damas and Erique Gumbs, and freshmen Kris Walden and Deon Jones, have also shown flashes.

There’s talk within the program that the Tigers could be headed for the biggest turnaround in the country next season.

Hofstra will lose three seniors next year – Mike Moore, Nat Lester and Dwan McMillan – but the Pride expect to improve drastically next season as well.

“Look at the guys at the end of the bench in blue warmup suits,” Cassara said.

He’s referring to transfers Jamal Coombs-McDaniel (Connecticut), Taran Buie (Penn State) and Daquan Brown (Fresno State). Coombs-McDaniel and Buie will immediately form one of the best perimeter duos in the league, and Brown gives Hofstra size it is severely lacking this season. Throw in freshmen Dallas Anglin and Jimmy Hall, and Hofstra has reason to be excited about the future.

It’s certainly not a vintage season for either Hofstra or Towson, but that should change in the near-future.  

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Category: NCAAB
Posted on: October 12, 2011 5:40 pm
Edited on: October 12, 2011 7:46 pm

Hofstra is ready for life after Charles Jenkins

By Jeff Borzello

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. – Over the past decade or so, Hofstra has always had a stud guard to lead the way – and someone waiting in the wings to replace him. Speedy Claxton gave way to Norman Richardson, who passed the baton to Rick Apodaca, with Loren Stokes and Antoine Agudio following him.

The latest was Charles Jenkins, a two-time CAA Player of the Year who was drafted by the Golden State Warriors in June. On the surface, it seems like the star guard lineage could be coming to a halt.

“We have a saying at Hofstra, ‘In Guards We Trust,’” senior Mike Moore said on Wednesday at Hofstra’s Media Day. “I think one of us will carry on that legacy.”

Although he’s not Jenkins, Moore could be the best candidate to step in and replace Jenkins' 22.9 points and 4.8 assists per game. Moore is the second-leading returning scorer in the conference, posting 14.9 points. He scored at least 20 points on six separate occasions, including a 28-point outing against Binghamton.

The former Fordham transfer could be ready to take that next step.

“That’s what you’d like to see,” head coach Mo Cassara said. “He’s going to be featured a bit more. He’s got to become more consistent, but he’s a scorer by nature.”

When asked who will take the big shots when the shot clock or game clock are winding down, Moore was confident in his response. “I think it’s going to be me,” he said. “I can carry that load.”

Fortunately for Cassara and the Pride, Moore won’t be alone on the perimeter. Rhode Island transfer Stevie Mejia sat out last season and will likely be slotted into the lineup at point guard. He registered nearly a 3-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio during his sophomore year in the Atlantic-10 and will be able to replace some of the playmaking ability of Jenkins.

Mejia is not a big-time scorer, but his defensive aggressiveness and ability to facilitate offense will be an asset.

“He’s a dynamic floor leader and he’s been successful everywhere he’s been,” Cassara said. “He’s a personality in the locker room, and he’s a guy who will have the ball in his hands.”

Season tips Nov. 7

Additional help will come in the form of Nathaniel Lester, who sat out last season with a torn quad muscle. Two seasons ago, the 6-foot-5 Brooklyn native started 22 games and averaged 8.0 points. Fully healthy, Lester expects to be one of the key replacements for Jenkins.

“We can handle that,” Lester said of replacing Jenkins. “When the season ended, me and Mike [Moore] looked at each other – we know what we have to do.”

Cassara and his players don’t want to underplay the loss of Jenkins; after all, he was one of the best players in Hofstra history and one of the best guards in the country over the last two seasons. However, there was a tendency at times last year to stand around and wait for Jenkins to make a play.

This season, it will be different.

“Last year when he had the ball, it was like we didn’t have to worry about it,” junior David Imes said. “There’s no more watching.”

With the arrival of several impact newcomers, as well as Lester and Mejia completing their redshirt years, the team is optimistic that they will be able to replace Jenkins and make a move in the CAA standings.

“Teams win games, not individual players,” Mejia said. “I think we can do a lot better than last year.”

Photo: Hofstra Athletic Communications (Mike Moore)

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: August 17, 2011 4:42 pm
Edited on: August 17, 2011 5:39 pm

CAA Offseason Report

By Jeff Goodman

CAA Offseason Report

Delaware – Phil Martelli Jr. came from Niagara and took the spot opened when R.C. Kehoe left to become the head coach at Holy Family. Delaware will play at Villanova (11-18), at BU (11-30), vs. La Salle (12-19) and vs. Temple (12-30) in the non-conference. Malcolm Hawkins transferred out of the program while Carl Baptiste (St. Joe’s) came in and will sit out this year.

Drexel – The Dragons will play in the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands from Nov. 18-21. Bruiser Flint’s team has a non-league schedule that includes games at Rider (11-15), at St. Joe’s (11-30), vs. Bradley (12-17) and vs. Princeton (12-10).

George Mason – New coach Paul Hewitt has put together the following staff: Roland Houston (GW), Mike Wells (NBA), Chris Kreider (Georgia Southern) and retained director of basketball operations Scott Lombardi. The Patriots will play in the Preseason NIT (the Virginia Tech pod) and open against Florida International. Hewitt’s team will also have non-league games at Virginia (12-6), vs. Duquesne (12-21) and at College of Charleston (12-30). Luke Hancock (Louisville) and Rashad Whack (Mount St. Mary’s) left while George Mason added Anali Okoloji (Seton Hall).

Georgia State – Ron Hunter came over from IUPUI and assembled the following staff: Darryl LaBarrie, Everick Sullivan, Claude Pardue and Tony Bollier as the director of basketball operations. The Panthers will play in the Basketball Travelers Invitational at Washington along with Portland and FAU. Georgia State will also play Rhode Island (12-10) in a non-conference contest. Two players transferred out – Javonte Maynor and Harold Doby – while Manny Atkins has come in from Virginia Tech and will sit out this season. Jordan DeMercy will be eligible this year after transferring from Florida State.

Hofstra – Pat Sellars, formerly at UConn, has replaced Allen Griffin (Dayton). The Pride will be in the Legends Classic and also play home non-league games against Long Island (11-13), and Iona. Paul Bilbo (Mercyhurst), Roland Brown and Yves Jules (Fairleigh Dickinson) all transferred out while Jamal Coombs-McDaniel (UConn) and Taran Buie (Penn State) both came in. Stevie Mejia (URI) is also eligible after sitting out last season.

James Madison – Bill Phillips replaced Kevin Hargrove as the director of basketball operations. The Dukes will play in the Hoop Group Classic (11-22/25) and will also be at Central Florida’s Holiday Tournament, along with Rhode Island and Stetson, from 12-29/30. JMU will also play against Kent State (12-6) and at George Washington (12-22) in the non-conference schedule. Chad Jackson transferred to Northern Kentucky while A.J. Davis is eligible this season after transferring from Wyoming a year ago.

Northeastern – Bill Coen’s team will play at St. John’s (11-26), at N.C. State (12-22) and at home against Southern Illinois (11-19) in the non-conference. Alex Harris transferred out while Kashif Edwards, who averaged 12.4 points last season at Niagara, came in as a grad student and is eligible for this season.

Old Dominion – The biggest news of the offseason for the Monarchs is the missing ‘stache. Actually, coach Blaine Taylor got ride of his famous mustache. Drew Williamson replaced Joel Hines as the director of basketball operations and ODU added video coordinator Chris Kovensky. Old Dominion will be in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off (11-19/20) and also have a non-conference slate that includes games vs. Iowa (11-12), vs. Missouri (12-30) in Norfolk, at Richmond (12-20) and at Central Florida (12-17). Donte Hill becomes eligible on Dec. 17 after transferring in from Clemson last year.

Towson – New coach Pat Skerry hired Kevin Clark (Rhode Island), Luke Murray (Wagner), Kenny Johnson and Duane Simpkins as his director of basketball operations. The Tigers will play in the Mainland portion of the Maui Invitational and also have non-league contests at Kansas (11-11), at Michigan (11-14), vs. Oregon State (11-26), at UMass (11-30) and at Virginia (12-30). Isaiah Philmore (Xavier), Braxton Dupree, Dre Conner and Cephas Oglesby all left while Jerrelle Benimon (G’Town) and Mike Burwell (South Fla.) both transferred in.

UNC-Wilmington – Buzz Peterson’s team is currently in the Bahamas. Matt McMahon (Murray State) and Kevin Norris (FGCU) both left; Brooks Lee was promoted to assistant coach, Andre Gray was hired and the director of basketball operations spot remains open. The Seahawks will play at Maryland (11-13), at Dayton (11-19), vs. Marshall (11-22), vs. Davidson (11-26) and at Wake Forest (12-21) in the non-league. Matthew Wallace transferred out of the program.

VCU – Mike Jones (Radford) and Kyle Getter were replaced by Jamion Christian (William & Mary) and new director of basketball operations Mike Morrell (Charleston Southern). The Rams will play in the Charleston Classic and also have a non-league slate that includes games at Alabama (11-27), at Western Kentucky (11-23), vs. South Florida (11-30), at Akron (12-29), vs. UAB (12-20), vs. Richmond (12-10) and against George Washington on Dec. 4 in the BT&T Classic in D.C. Toby Veal left the program.

William & Mary – Kotie Kimble replaced Jamion Christian, who left for VCU. The Tribe will play in the Coaches vs. Cancer event and also have non-conference contests vs. Richmond (11-30), at Missouri (12-18) and vs. Iona (12-21).

Offseason reports: Big 12 Pac-12 | Big Ten | ACC | Big East SEC | A-10
Posted on: June 30, 2011 7:01 pm
Edited on: June 30, 2011 7:35 pm

Hofstra lands Penn State transfer Taran Buie

By Jeff Goodman

Mo Cassara added UConn transfer Jamal Coombs-McDaniel earlier this month – and now he’s added another high-major talent in Taran Buie.

The former Penn State guard confirmed to CBSSports.com that he has decided to transfer to Hofstra.

The 6-foot-2 Buie was a Top 100 player coming out of high school and visited Maryland, Notre Dame, Syracuse, Rutgers and Penn State.

Cassara was on staff at Boston College at the time – and the Eagles were just one of numerous high-major schools to offer the New York native.

However, Buie’s season at Penn State wasn’t much of a success. He played in just 11 games, averaging 5.8 points per game, before being suspended for violating team rules.

Both Coombs-McDaniel and Buie will sit out this season and become eligible in 2012.

In 2012, Cassara could put out a starting lineup of URI transfer Stevie Mejia -- who is eligible this season after sitting out this past season -- Buie, Coombs-McDaniel and David Imes, who averaged 7.6 points and 6.8 boards this past season as a sophomore.

Sources also told CBSSports.com that Hofstra leads for its top target in the Class of 2012, Xaverian shooting guard Brian Bernardi – who was on campus earlier this week. 

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: June 30, 2011 11:42 am
Edited on: June 30, 2011 4:56 pm

Penn State transfer Taran Buie still taking trips

By Jeff Borzello

Former Penn State guard Taran Buie is still going through the process of taking visits in order to determine his next visit.

Jim Hart, Buie’s former AAU coach with the Albany City Rocks, said Thursday that the 6-foot-2 Buie visited Hofstra recently and the Pride could end up being his destination.

“Mo Cassara recruited him while he was at Boston College, and he likes him,” Hart said. “They’re doing good things there. Jamal Coombs-McDaniel just transferred there, Charles Jenkins just got drafted.”

Buie, an Albany, N.Y., native, averaged 5.8 points during his freshman season with the Nittany Lions.

Towson and Colorado are also interested in picking up Buie on the transfer market, but there’s a sleeper option in the mix -- Hutchinson Community College (Kan.).

“He’s visiting a junior college for some reason,” Hart said. “I guess the idea is that he would spend one year there and then get back to the highest level, maybe a Colorado or an Alabama.”

Hart thinks the best option would be heading to Long Island and playing for the Pride.

“In my opinion, he should go to Hofstra,” he said. “He would have a great three years with them.”

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: June 15, 2011 1:13 pm
Edited on: June 15, 2011 1:22 pm
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Posted on: June 12, 2011 7:28 pm

Coombs-McDaniel Visits Hofstra; Missouri Next

By Jeff Goodman

UConn transfer Jamal Coombs-McDaniel returned from a visit to Hofstra this past weekend and said he expects to take a trip to Missouri in the next couple of weeks and then decide between the pair.

``I had a great trip,” Coombs-McDaniel told CBSSports.com. ``The guys I met were terrific and I can’t speak enough about the entire coaching staff. I had a great overall experience.”

The 6-foot-6 sophomore, who averaged 5.6 points and 2.7 rebounds per game for the national champions this past season, will have to sit out this season and have two years left.

Coombs-McDaniel wasn’t much of a factor down the stretch for the Huskies, but did show the potential that has both Missouri and Hofstra in pursuit.

He went for 25 points and grabbed eight boards against Providence and also had 23 points and six rebounds in a win over Georgetown in February.

Coombs-McDaniel has a relationship with new Hofstra assistant Pat Sellars – who was an assistant at UConn during his freshman campaign – and also played with Missouri’s Phil and Matt Pressey with BABC a few summers back.

Coombs-McDaniel is still at UConn taking classes this summer. 

Posted on: June 7, 2011 6:00 pm

Will Sellers lure Coombs-McDaniel to Hofstra?

Posted by Eric Angevine

As Matt Norlander reported earlier today, former UConn assistant coach Patrick Sellers is headed for an assistant's job at Hofstra. If things break Mo Cassara's way once more, yet another refugee from the Huskies could join Sellers on the bench next season.

Jamal Coombs-McDaniel, 6-foot-7 sophomore who logged just six minutes in the national title game, left UConn in a search for more playing time, though his May arrest on marijuana charges probably didn't help matters.

If Coombs-McDaniel does choose Hofstra, he could find the playing time he's been looking for (after sitting out a season, of course). A lanky 6-7 without much bulk or a good shooting touch, the sophomore mostly provided fresh legs off the bench in relief of Jim Calhoun's youthful starters. His 5.6 rebounds per game, even in limited duty, give him a skill to hang his hat on wherever he goes, especially if he uses his transfer season to develop other aspects of his game.

Cassarra had the Pride in the upper echelon of the dynamic Colonial Athletic Association last year in his first season on the bench at the school. The league's profile has grown by leaps and bounds following a 2006 Final Four appearance by George Mason and last year's stunning run by Virginia Commonwealth. Hofstra is in search of the school's first NCAA tourney berth since 2001, when Jay Wright was the head coach, and Hofstra was still a member of the America East conference. Cassara would no doubt find Coombs-McDaniel's services to be very helpful toward that effort in 2012-13. Landing an official commitment from another embattled former Husky could be Patrick Sellers' first order of business.

Photo: US Presswire
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com