Hofstra easily dispatched the Wagner Seawhawks on Sunday, by a 93-71 margin, thanks to plenty of key performances. Here are three thoughts from the Pride’s third victory on the season and their best start to a season since 2008-09.
Juan’ya Green is quickly establishing himself as one of the best players in the CAA. Green did it all for the Pride Sunday afternoon. He led Hofstra in scoring for the third consecutive game with a season-high 24 points, was an impeccable 11-12 from the free throw line, and completed the double-double with 11 assists.
“You sleep a lot better at night when you’ve got a guy like Juan’ya on your team,” head coach Joe Mihalich said. “I’m a lucky guy to be his coach and his teammates love playing with him. When you lead your team in points and assists, that says something about you.”
It was the most assists handed out by a Hofstra player since Dwan McMillan finished with 15 on Feb. 25, 2012. As it so happens, McMillan was in the building Sunday, serving as a graduate assistant on the Wagner bench.
Just four games into the season, Green has already put the CAA on notice. His presence on the court in blue and white provides the Pride with a legitimacy they have been trying to achieve for years.
Wagner will need to mature in order to compete in the NEC. Picked to finish seventh in the preseason coaches’ poll, expectations were never high for Bashir Mason’s squad this year. The Seahawks’ youth is both their biggest strength and their greatest weakness.
Mason’s team racked up 33 fouls on the afternoon and allowed Hofstra into the double bonus with over a quarter of the game left to play. All six of the freshmen to see action for the Seahawks committed at least three fouls, with two of them fouling out.
However, with the negatives of inexperience and foul trouble comes the positive of an explosive offense. Those six freshmen accounted for 45 of Wagner’s 71 points. Freshman Aaren Edmead contributed to that outburst off the bench to lead the team with 15 points while senior Marcus Burton followed with 13 of his own.
“We’ve just got young guys,” Mason said. “We want to play fast when we get turnovers and even when we get scored on we want to play fast. In doing so, these guys just get caught up in playing fast versus playing smart. I learned something tonight: we’ll be fine offensively. I’m not worried. It’s just about the other side of the court.”
Hofstra has turned into a versatile scoring machine overnight. One can talk all day about what the transfer trio of Green, Ameen Tanksley and Brian Bernardi have done for Mihalich’s team. Add in the established faces of Dion Nesmith and Jamall Robinson and suddenly fans in Hempstead have a team they can be proud of.
Behind Green’s leadership, Tanksley, Robinson, and Bernardi each finished in double figures with 17, 13 and 11 points respectively. The Pride posted an impressive rate of 1.42 ppp during an explosive first half in which they scored 47 points and finished the game with a rate of 1.17 ppp.
Wagner’s foul troubles led to a hefty total of 49 Pride free throws. While converting 35 of those chances, Hofstra managed to hide a remarkable statistic – they shot nearly 59% from 3-point range, including a perfect 5-5 mark from Tanksley.
Vincent Simone covers Quinnipiac, the MAAC, and Hofstra for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow him on Twitter @VTSimone.