By Joe Pantorno, Assistant Sports Editor
It's been an awfully long off-season for the Hofstra University men's basketball team. With the exodus of Tom Pecora, the month long debacle that was Tim Welsh's Hofstra coaching tenure and the loss of recruits and current players due to transfer, head coach Mo Cassara and the Pride finally hit the court for its first practice of the year on Friday, October 15.
The two hour and forty-five minute practice was held at the newly floored Mack Sports and Exhibition Complex where players and coaches, old and new, hit the court to get ready for the 2010-11 season.
Among the returning stars are senior forward Greg Washington and reigning CAA Player of the Year, senior guard Charles Jenkins. Jenkins, who is the 2010-11 CAA Preseason Player of the Year, could not wait to get things under way for the five o'clock practice. "I put my uniform on at three o'clock, I left my room at two o'clock," said Jenkins. "I kept pacing because there's only so much you can do when you're anxious to get out on the court."
Amongst the old faces like Jenkins and Washington, come many new ones including Cassara and his coaching staff of Associate Head Coach Steven DeMeo and assistant coaches Wayne Morgan and Allen Griffin.
After a practice that was high on intensity, Cassara gave the first of many verdicts of his team. "I think the energy was great, and the effort was great," he said. "Certainly a lot of teaching, this is a whole new staff, a whole new team in a sense that they are learning a whole new system."
Cassara preached ball control and team defense as the team spent most of its practice working on defensive formations.
Jenkins also had praise for Cassara's first practice. "It was great," said the two time reigning Haggerty Award winner as the New York-Metro area's best player. "The coach is enthusiastic and that's what I expected from him and I know he was going to get into us and try to have fun at the same time. "
Practice will be open to the public on Saturday, October 23 for the Hofstra Basketball Fanfest starting at 3:30 p.m. at the Mack Complex. Fans will be able to take part in interactive games, take tours of the team locker rooms and take in both the men's and women's basketball scrimmages.
The Pride were selected to finish fifth in the Colonial Athletic Association and Jenkins was selected to the All-CAA First Team as well as being named CAA Preseason Player of the Year.
The Pride will be gearing up for its first and only exhibition game against Molloy College on November 7, followed by the home opener when Farmingdale State College visits the Mack on November 13. Then it is off to Puerto Rico to take on the University of North Carolina in San Juan on November 18 on ESPN 2 in the Puerto Rico Tip Off.