Hofstra head coach Joe Mihalich knows his team can score and score a lot, but it’s the other side he worries about.
“Clearly its the way we’re defending, more specifically, it’s the way we’re not defending,” Mihalich said of where they need to improve. “We got to do a better job of just bothering the guy with the basketball and making it hard to score.”
“I know that sounds like what you’d tell a fourth grader, but that’s basically what it is. I mean, we got to just be better defensively.”
Through the season’s first nine games, the Pride have scored 83.4 points per game, but have allowed 79.0, which ranks 306th in the country.
After their loss at Siena on Dec. 9, where they allowed 81 points on 74 possessions, Mihalich said they have committed their practices to improving the defense.
“It’s almost back to the drawing board, it’s been like boot camp for the last week or so,” Mihalich said. “All we’ve done is defense. We’ve just been trying to get better at guarding the basketball, better off the ball, every dimension of the defense. Just all the A, B, Cs, every single one of them.”
The Pride have allowed opponents to shoot 45.2% from the field and have allowed Division I opponents to make 54% of their two-point field goals. Even though Hofstra has proven it can score in bunches, Mihalich knows the Pride cannot rely on outscoring opponents.
“No matter how hard we work on defense, our offense is better than our defense, that’s who we are,” Mihalich said. “Our offense is still going to be better than our defense, it’s just that our defense just has to get better, has to get better than what it is. We can even get better offensively.”
Their improvement will be tested on Sunday by Stony Brook, who presents a matchup problem in senior forward Jameel Warney among others. According to rankings on KenPom, the Seawolves will be the third best team the Pride have faced thus far. Hofstra managed to beat Florida State 82-77, but lost to South Carolina in the Paradise Jam.
“I mean this kid, doesn’t matter what you do, doesn’t matter you’re wasting your time if you double-team him because he thrives on that,” Mihalich said of Warney. “You’re wasting your time with double-teaming and yet at the same time you can’t guard them all at once, so I don’t know what’s left, maybe triple-team him.”
Most of all, Mihalich wants his team to clear the bad taste they got from their road loss at Siena.
“We’re trying to figure it all out, it’s a work in progress,” Mihalich said. “It still feels early, we’re still trying to settle in. Let’s face it, all this is about getting ready for conference play and come December 31, let’s hope we figure out who we are and let’s try to keep getting better at that.”
Ryan Restivo wrote the America East conference preview for the 2015-16 Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook. He covers the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, the America East conference among others for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanarestivo or contact Ryan at rrestivo[at]nycbuckets.com.