By Kyle Kandetzki – Assistant Sports Editor This is “The Scouting Report”, a (mostly) online feature from The Hofstra Chronicle where we go in-depth on the Pride’s upcoming opponent. Stats and insight will be provided to help Hofstra fans know what to expect with each coming matchup.
The Hofstra Pride men’s basketball team is back in action following their thrilling win against Long Island rival Stony Brook. The Pride won the game on a near buzzer-beater from Dion Nesmith, giving them the 66-65 advantage. They come back less than 48 hours later to play the Wagner Seahawks at the Mack Sports Complex.
THE BASIC INFORMATION: Wagner is another school close by to Hofstra, as Wagner is located on Staten Island. The school was founded in 1883, and current has a little over 4,500 students. Wagner clearly doesn’t have quite the ‘rivalry’ that Hofstra holds with Stony Brook, but their campus is only 55 minutes away, so possibly expect Wagner fans to make the trip over to the Mack. Wagner plays in the Northeast Conference along side teams like Bryant University, Sacred Heart, and LIU-Brooklyn.
HISTORY: Wagner, like Stony Brook, doesn’t have a very exciting history behind them. They have just one NCAA Tournament appearance on their resume, and that was way back in 2003. They would lose in the first round as a 15 seed. They also have two NIT berths, neither as recent as the last time they went dancing.
LAST YEAR: The Seahawks had a 19-12 record last year, but in conference play they had a pretty successful campaign. Wagner went 12-4 in the NEC, good enough for second place. They would ultimately be eliminated from their conference tournament in the semifinals against Mount St. Mary’s
THIS YEAR: The Seahawks are 1-2 so far, with their only victory coming in a 83-49 effort against lowly SUNY Old Westbury. In a common theme of Hofstra opponents (for a reason I’m not sure of), Wagner also played Columbia, but they lost 70-56. They also lost big to the ACC’s Maryland (82-48).
THE COACH: In his third year, the Head Coach is Bashir Mason. Mason is familiar with the CAA, as he was a point guard at Drexel from 2003-2007. Mason has been consistent in his first two years at Wagner, going 19-12 both times. Oh, fun fact: Mason is the youngest coach in ALL of NCAA Division I basketball, at 30 years old.
LOSSES: Wagner lost four seniors this season, two of which were their top scorers. Kenneth Ortiz was an all-around player, averaging 14 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.2 assists as a 200-pound guard. Latif Rivers also graduated, and was the second best scorer, with 13.3 points per game at (most likely) the shooting guard spot.
Wagner’s 4th, 5th, and 6th scorers are also gone from the roster. Yet another guard in Jay Harris (no relation to the SportsCenter anchor), transferred to the University of Illinois at Chicago for his final year of eligibility. Harris averaged just over 10 points. Wagner’s best scoring forward didn’t come until 5th, in 6’7” Mario Moody. Moody was one of the team’s best rebounders (5.9), and blockers (1.3) to go along with 9 points per game. Moody transferred to Bethune-Cookman.
Two final graduating seniors were Orlando Parker, who averaged 7 PPG, and led the team in rebounds with 6.9 per game, and Naofall Folahan, who contributed more defensively with 3 blocks per game.
RETURNING PLAYERS: Marcus Burton is by far the program’s best returning player. Burton didn’t start any games last year, but was one of the best in off-the-bench production. He still played over 22 minutes per game, while scoring 11 PPG. He also led the NEC in free throw percentage.
Three other returning players have gotten the start this season, Hugo Naurais, Greg Senat and Nolan Long (all at forward), but are not receiving a majority of minutes, in favor of freshmen. The forward position in general doesn’t have much experience, and the team has been searching for solutions early in the year.
TRANSFERS: The Seahawks have two transfers. Their premier addition, though, might not see the floor anytime soon. Mike Aaman, a transfer from the University of Rhode Island, could be eligible to play this year, but has yet to be cleared. Aaman left URI in the middle of the year last season, and averaged 3 PPG in only five appearances.
Forward Stedman Allen comes from a community college to Wagner, and will look to help the team’s situation at forward. He has played at least 15 minutes in every game so far, and had averaged 6.7 PPG.
FRESHMEN: The Seahawks are a freshmen heavy team due to all of their losses, with five in total. At guard, Corey Henson and JoJo Cooper both got the nod to start their most recent game. Henson has started off very promisingly, averaging over 10 points in his first three games. Cooper has struggled, only shooting 27% from the field, while still playing 24 MPG so far.
Fellow guards Romone Saunders and Aaren Edmead haven’t gotten quite as many minutes, but were able to drop 11 and 13 points in their last game, respectively (albeit against a very underwhelming team).
THE MATCHUP: Marcus Burton will have to have the game of his life on Sunday afternoon, as it seems that a very well rounded Hofstra team will overmatch this Wagner team. This is not to say that Wagner is on the level of a team lie Jacksonville (definitely not), but the loss of most of their offense with very little promising replacement will most likely have this team scrambling. The entire rotation of forwards on this team are unconvincing, and should give Hofstra’s big men a break after trying to contain the ridiculous player that was Jameel Warney.
The new guards for Wagner, though, have shown some promise early in the season, but it seems as though most of their stats are coming against Westbury.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Simply, it should be interesting to see how Hofstra plays coming off such a thrilling win on Friday. Will they need to calm down, or will they play with a swagger that will carry them from the beginning?
As mentioned before, Rokas Gustys, Andre Walker, and company were tossed around defensively by Stony Brook’s Warney on Friday. Both players have shown promise, and will just need to settle back down. I trust that they will, with no real threats on this Seahawk team.
And Dion Nesmith’s huge night should lead to even more minutes off the bench in this game. How will he handle them in what should be a more subdued game?
Tanksley as a forward/guard combo has been starting at the forward position, will he have a huge performance?
And Brian Bernardi hit the shot that led the team’s road back to victory Friday night, but Brian still struggled for a second game in a row. Will Bernardi get a chance to return to his deep attack, or his he simply not a huge offense weapon night in and night out like Green and Tanksley are?
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS Pride Green (18.3 PPG, 5 RPG, 5 APG) Nichols (6.3 PPG, only 3 points Friday night) Bernardi (10.7 PPG, only 10 total points in last two games) Tanksley (13.7 PPG, 6.7 RPG) Gustys (8.3 RPG)
Seahawks Burton (12.3 PPG) Henson (10.7 PPG) Long (9 PPG in only 17 MPG) Cooper (4.7 PPG) Allen (6.7 PPG, 4.3 RPG)
NEXT UP: @ South Florida (11/25)