Hofstra basketball players said Tuesday they were in disbelief when told four teammates had been arrested and charged with burglary of laptops, iPads and other electronic equipment from university dorm rooms.
"I was stunned," senior guard Stevie Mejia said before the Pride's home game against Wagner last night. "I'm still shocked."
"Same here, shocked," senior guard Matt Grogan said.
Junior Shaquille Stokes and freshmen Jimmy Hall Jr., Dallas Anglin and Kentrell Washington were arrested on Nov. 29 and suspended from the team and university pending the outcome of their cases.
All four have been released from Nassau County jail after posting bond. They are scheduled to appear back in court next Wednesday.
Coach Mo Cassara explained how his players reacted when he gave them the news last Thursday.
"Shock, disbelief, blank stares, emotions, questions," he said. "That's a tough room to be in, that's a challenging meeting. We gave them as much information that we could give them. We huddled up, put our arms around each other and we marched out."
"We're just going out ready to play every day," Mejia said. "We have an opportunity to play basketball, win games. I think I just tried to put it aside. When I'm on the court I'm focused on who's on the court. I'm not really too focused on any outside stuff."
Cassara, in his third season, was asked if he thinks his job may be on the line.
"Certainly there's going to be a big magnifying glass on me as the head of the program," he said. "I'm the head coach. Ultimately, it's my job to put a good, competitive program out there and win basketball games. I'm going to keep fighting every single day. I'm going to fight every day a little harder and a little harder."
Cassara will look for extended playing time from players such as Grogan, who was brought in by former coach Tom Pecora, now at Fordham, after a successful high school career at Archbishop Molloy in Queens.
"I've been ready to play since the day I came here," Grogan said. "I was recruited to come here. I was a recruited walk-on. I played at a high level throughout high school. I never really considered myself a walk-on."
Cassara also will look for leadership from Mejia and Grogan.
"Lead by example," Mejia said. "Do the right thing every day. Lead on an off the court, so when guys see you around campus they know what to do."
Grogan, the nephew of former major-league pitcher Allen Watson, added, "The biggest thing about being a leader, especially when you are faced with adversity, is you've got to remain positive. It's how we react, how we pick it up, how we move forward from here on."