Joe Mihalich’s Hofstra squad has certainly proven its offensive prowess this season. The Pride, picked as favorites in the CAA, have scored 96 points in each of their two contests this year and took down Division II Molloy 96-64 Monday night.
Their guard-oriented, fast-paced style of play keeps opposing defenses on their toes, but the Pride’s big man is the rock at the center of it all. Or rather their “Rok”, as in 6’9” Rokas Gustys. The Lithuanian sophomore has achieved double-doubles in each of the Pride’s first two games this year, surpassing his total from all of last season.
Gustys started off slow Monday night, shooting just 2-7 in the first half against opposing bigs some four inches shorter than him. However, the Pride’s giant came alive in the second half, opening the frame 3-3 with five rebounds in the first four minutes after the break.
“I think he might have been trying just a little too hard, just moving too fast in there,” Mihalich said of Gustys. “There’s a basketball expression: ‘Be quick but don’t hurry’ and I think Rok in the first half was kind of hurried a little bit. The second half he was quick, but he was a little more under control.”
Despite Hofstra’s dominant second-half performance in which they outscored Molloy 59-35, Mihalich stressed the point that every opponent must be treated with respect, whether they be from Division I, II, or III.
“We talk about playing the game the same way. Division I, Division II, Division III; just respect the game and who you’re playing,” Mihalich said. “This team that we played tonight, they’re in the same league as St. Thomas Aquinas. St. Thomas Aquinas beat St. John’s by 32 points. This team scrimmaged Adelphi. Adelphi beat Manhattan. This team scrimmaged Adelphi and buried them. Destroyed them. Iowa lost to a Division II team. It’s happening out there and if you don’t play the game the right way you’re not going to get better.”
Hofstra freshman Justin Wright-Foreman got in on the action with his first career points on a 12 foot jumper early in the first half. As the margin widened late in the game, Wright-Foreman strutted his stuff some more. The guard finished with nine points in just 14 minutes of action.
CAA Preseason Player of the Year Juan’ya Green finished the evening with 17 points and eight assists as Mihalich benched his starters with 4:27 left in the contest. The Niagara transfer has established himself as one of the premiere players in the conference and has already taken freshmen guards Wright-Foreman and Desure Buie under his wing.
“I just make sure they’re on point with everything they’re doing,” Green said of the two freshmen. “I make sure that as freshmen if they make a mistake they don’t put their head down. Just move on to the next play and just keep playing.”
Ameen Tanksley matched Green for the team lead with 17 points. Malik Nichols added 16 points along with eight rebounds off the bench. Gustys ended the game with 12 points and 16 rebounds while Princeton grad transfer Denton Koon filled the stat sheet with 11 points, six rebounds, and four assists.
Vincent Simone covers Quinnipiac, the MAAC, and Hofstra among others for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow him on Twitter @VTSimone.