Larry Brown a winner in LI return; he feels for Hofstra's Mo Cassara
During his 40-year coaching career, Larry Brown has encountered almost every situation. With that in mind, he strolled down to the other side of the court before his Southern Methodist University squad took on Hofstra Saturday at the Mack Sports Complex.
Although their teams were about to square off, Brown wanted to offer words of encouragement to third-year Hofstra coach Mo Cassara, who is dealing with the fallout of burglary charges against four players.
The players -- sophomore Shaquille Stokes and freshmen Jimmy Hall, Kentrell Washington and Dallas Anglin -- were arrested Thursday and suspended from the university.
"You can't lose four quality players in one day and expect to have success. I told Mo before the game I felt real bad about it," Brown said after the game. "He can coach. They were a team that we really had a lot of respect for before we came here, and that hasn't changed."
But Brown's sympathy extended only so far. SMU showed no mercy in pounding the Pride, 73-47. It was Hofstra's third straight loss.
Considering the circumstances, the Pride (3-5) couldn't have gotten off to a worse start. Without starters Stokes and Hall, Hofstra missed its first six shots, fell into a 10-0 hole in the first four minutes and never recovered. The Mustangs (8-1) opened a 29-10 lead, entered the break with a 31-19 advantage and extended it to 55-28.
"Our guys came firing out of the locker room; they were ready," Cassara said. "That's one of those games, if you just make that first basket, it's almost like the pressure just comes off and you feel so much better about everything."
Hofstra shot 25.9 percent from the field and had only eight assists against 15 turnovers. Stevie Mejia (11 points) and Taran Buie (10) led the Pride but totaled 6-for-22 shooting.
"It was a challenging week," Cassara said. "But our guys are resilient, my staff is resilient and, most importantly, I'm resilient. We're just going to keep working as hard as we can."
SMU's Nick Russell scored 20 points, but the star of the day was Brown. The 72-year-old Long Island product basked in the return, opening his news conference by saying, "What about those Knicks?"
The comment was well-received, considering Knicks coach Mike Woodson and his assistants were in the back of the room. Woodson was an assistant on Brown's staff with the 2003-04 Pistons, who won the NBA championship.
Brown coached the Knicks in the 2005-06 season, but his roots in the area extend back to his days at Long Beach High.
"My mom moved here and allowed me to grow up in a great environment," Brown said. "I had a great high school coach that gave me this opportunity and there's a lot of great memories for me. I love Long Island. It's always great coming back here."