By Kyle Kandetzki – Assistant Sports Editor This is “The Scouting Report”, an 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 Pride men’s basketball team continues their month of mostly road games when they play in Maryland against Coppin State. Hofstra is now in their final five out-of-conference games, and this is their final matchup before a ten-day finals break. A win would give the Pride their fourth in a row. Tip is set for 7:30 p.m.
THE BASIC INFORMATION: Coppin State is located in Baltimore, Maryland with a somewhat small student base of 4,000. The team play under the mascot of the Eagles, and their conference is the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC).
HISTORY: The 90s were the last time that the Eagles had consistent results, making the NCAA Tournament three times, and winning one first round game. Their last appearance was in 2008, winning the MEAC Tournament with one of the worst records to make a national appearance, 16-20.
LAST YEAR: The Eagles struggled to a 12-20 overall mark in 2013-14, placing 7th in the MEAC with a 7-9-conference record. This ultimately led to the school letting go of legendary 28-year coach Fang Mitchell. The school only had one winning season over the previous ten.
THIS YEAR: Things haven’t improved at all for Coppin State, who is 1-7 so far this year. And their only win? It came against Division II Goldey-Beacom College in an unfair 103-50 win. CSU already has dipped into the CAA field, losing 84-76 to Towson. The team has also already opened up conference play, which has included a loss to past Hofstra opponent, Norfolk State.
THE COACH: After the 28-year tenure of Fang Mitchell wasn’t renewed, Coppin State opted to hire Michael Grant. Grant’s head coaching experience is mostly at Division II schools, including his last gig, a five-year stint at Stillman College in Alabama.
LOSSES: Coppin State didn’t lose their entire scoring attack like some schools Hofstra has played in the past. But, they did lose their top two scoring options. Forward Michael Murray led last year’s Coppin State team in several categories: points (14.6), rebounds (6.9) and minutes on the floor (35). Murray clearly was the team’s leader, and had endurance to play almost entire games.
Guard Andre Armstrong also graduated. Armstrong wasn’t the most efficient shooter (32%), but he still held the second most points per game with 11.8.
CURRENT ROSTER: This is a very experienced squad, with six seniors, four juniors, and just one freshman. The seniors are at the top of the stat sheet for this struggling team so far. 6’7” forward Arnold Fripp leads the team with a modest 12.6 PPG and nearly leads the team in boards with 4.3.
5’10” senior guard Taariq Cephas rounds out the players on the team with double-digit points, with 10.6.
Finishing out the top four offensive seniors are guards Jahvari Josiah and Sterling Smith, both averaging 7.4 PPG, while Smith is more active on the stat sheet, with 4.4 boards and 1.4 steals.
The only non-senior that makes contributions is sophomore guard Christian Kessee, who garners over 6 points in about 20 minutes per game.
The team’s only freshman, Blake Simpson, doesn’t play much, and is a transfer from Coach Mihalich’s alma mater La Salle.
WEAKNESSES: Issues are everywhere on this team, as shown by their record. Their stats may be a bit dragged down from playing good opponents like Oregon and Notre Dame, but it is still not an excuse. No consistent contributor on this team shoots over 42%, and 4 players who have taken at least 30 shots are under 36%, including guard Daquan Brickhouse who is 9-for-41.
The team as a whole comes up near the bottom in most offense categories across the nation. Out of 351 DI programs, the Eagles are 274th in points, 304th in boards, and 348th in field goal percentage (one of the three teams under them in this stat is CAA opponent Delaware, by the way).
The defense hasn’t been much better, as they have allowed at least 80 points in 6 of their 7 losses.
THE MATCHUP: This matchup seems perfect for Hofstra to control with ease. This Pride team has looked prolific as of late, but still comes with some holes.
1. Problems stopping big men…Fripp is the only big man (6’7”) with any offensive ability, as the best scorer on the team. But he is just one forward. The next best forward only scores 4.8 points and 2 boards at 6’5”. This is a guard heavy Coppin State team, so Walker should have a chance to perform better, and players like Tanksley can still play efficiently as a big. 2. Rebounds…Basically, see #1. No impressive bigs besides Fripp, one of the worst rebounding teams in the nation. Regardless of the hole, Hofstra should look capable tonight. 3. Free throws…With all of Coppin State’s weaknesses and no threats to Hofstra’s issues, the Pride shouldn’t need to improve from the line just yet to win.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: I would venture a guess that this game should be a blowout. One could say Coppin State has had tough opponents (which they have), but they have also been given easier tests and still lost. The Eagles were handled easily by Norfolk State by 19 points, who Hofstra defeated by 14.
Hofstra has looked good in this three game stretch of mediocre teams, and it’s definitely good that this game should feature the bench playing more. Meaning the pressure for Kone and Gusty’s return is a little less prominent. Add a ten day break after this game and you hope you’ll get one of your feature big men back for Columbia on the 20th or at least the beginning of CAA play on January 3rd.
Look for Hofstra to test the three early to try to pull away quickly, but should still get drives to the basket for Green and company if the shots aren’t automatic from the arc.
Ameen Tanksley is your CAA Player of the Week for a second consecutive time and is undeniably a star on this team. Tanksley sits at 11th in the entire nation in 3-point percentage. Ameen’s done it all for this team, including stepping up as a big while this team misses Kone and Gustys. However many minutes he receives tonight, expect him to continue to impress.
But it could be Juan’ya Green’s night, as this overall weak team shouldn’t be able to contain his speed to the hoop and jump shot. Hofstra’s most exciting shooters Green, Bernardi, Tanksley, and Nesmith should simply get space and take as many shots as possible.
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS Pride Green (18.1 PPG, 6.3 APG) Nichols (6.3 PPG, double-double in last game) Bernardi (13.8 PPG, 50% from the field) Tanksley (17.8 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 59.5% 3PFG) Walker (2 PPG, 4.6 RPG)
Eagles Smith (7.4 PPG, 4.4 RPG) Cephas (10.6 PPG, 2.9 APG) Kessee (6.3 PPG) Fripp (12.1 PPG, 4.3 RPG) Fejokwu (1.9 PPG)
NEXT UP: @ Columbia 12/20