By Joe Pantorno (Editor-in-Chief) This time two weeks ago, Hofstra women’s basketball was just one game out of third place in the CAA after a home victory over Drexel.
Since then, the Pride has lost three straight to James Madison, Old Dominion and Towson. The latter two were looking up at Hofstra in the conference standings.
Now sitting in sixth, tonight’s opponent bring a whole different threat as nationally ranked (no. 18) and CAA leader Delaware visits the Mack.
We know all know Delaware’s biggest threat: Elena Delle Donne.
The explosive 6’5” guard/forward is downright unstoppable on most nights. In her career she has averaged 35 points against Hofstra. Wherever there is an opening, whether it’s down low or on the perimeter, she can make you pay.
It’s almost impossible for a mid-major program to prepare for the talent that Delle Donne brings. Her presence alone makes the rest of her side better. On some nights, Hofstra has tried to isolate her, but has left the door open for others to have career games. On other nights, the Pride has let her score at will, trying to shut down her options.
Her last three games against Hofstra, she has scored 42, 41 and 35 points.
Hofstra however has a number set for her. Well, actually, they have 29 numbers set for her. In head coach Krista Kilburn-Steveskey’s mind, if her side can hold Delle Donne to under 30 points, Hofstra has a shot at winning tonight.
This is easier said than done, of course.
What needs to be done:
Keep Delle Donne outside: She has an unbelievable shot from outside and it’s very efficient, but it’s difficult to beat any Division I side when you resort to the perimeter. Delle Donne has had a knack of wrangling in countless second chance opportunities down low. She’ll put that 6’5” frame to use and it’ll be a long day for Hofstra.
Go right after her: This is the time to be aggressive. Sitting in sixth with three games left, Hofstra has the opportunity to jump one spot up at least. This is where hard drives from the guards and smart passes down low to senior forward Shante Evans will come in handy. If you go right after Delle Donne, there is the possibility of her getting into foul trouble early. With Delle Donne on the bench, Delaware is not as scary as a side.
Be efficient: Delaware is a very physical side. As Hofstra has been prone to shooting less than stellar from the field at times, the Pride must take all its chances if they want to keep this game close. Second chances will be few and far between as the Blue Hens will use its strength to try and boss their way under the boards.
Who needs to step up for Hofstra:
Andreana Thomas: The sophomore guard has an arsenal of moves in her repertoire that can give any defender fits. She has shown glimpses of a hard, gritty style of play that gets her to the basket and opens up plenty of offensive options. She just can’t run herself into trouble. She’s had some problems with that this season, running herself into turnovers. While Hofstra will look to set a fast pace, she needs to make sure she has the ball safely at all times.
Annie Payton: Payton has become one of Hofstra’s lone deep threats this season. If Thomas is on her game tonight and is cutting hard to the basket, outside options will be available to kick out to. This will give Payton plenty of nice looks from long range. If she can find her stroke early, Hofstra might just have a chance.