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Hofstra ready for CAA challenge

Hofstra guard Zeke Upshaw dribbles upcourt against Manhattan

Hofstra guard Zeke Upshaw dribbles upcourt against Manhattan during the first half. (Nov. 30, 2013) (Credit: James Escher)

With low expectations and a roster that was halfway overhauled after a difficult 2012-2013 season, Hofstra coach Joe Mihalich said one of the Pride’s goals this year was to “surprise everyone”, especially when CAA play begins.

The Pride’s non-conference schedule was nothing to fool as they battled the likes of Louisville, George Washington, Richmond and a red-hot Manhattan team.

Mihalich said he learned a lot about his team, led by transfer players Zeke Upshaw and Dion Nesmith and a few holdovers from last season, including Jordan Allen, Moussa Kone and Stephen Nwaukoni.

Said Mihalich: “I learned what we’re not good at. I learned we don’t have much room for error. I also learned that we can play with teams. I learned we can get to a certain point and not turn the corner the last five minutes.”

Eight of Hofstra’s 11 losses were by 11 points or less. That includes an overtime loss to Richmond, and setbacks to George Washington and Tulane.

Playing such a tough non-league campaign took its toll at times, as Hofstra played much of the first two months of the season with just eight players. Nesmith, Hofstra’s second-leading scorer who missed three games with a knee injury, forced Mihalich to play several players out of position.

Allen, a 6-6 swing player, was forced to play the point at times. Playing with a short bench, and without Nesmith, “made everybody better,” Mihalich said.

Hofstra’s non-conference record (4-10) -- the Pride lost at CAA rival Delaware on Wednesday -- certainly wasn’t what he was hoping for, but the team general feeling was that the team grew.

Said Mihalich: “What you try to do is sharpen your teeth for league play.”

Hofstra hosts the College of Charleston in its second CAA game on Saturday at 4 p.m. The Pride plays its last non-conference game of the season at SMU on Jan. 19, a contest that was rescheduled from Dec. 7 due to inclement weather.

Tags: Hofstra , men's basketball , Joe Mihalich , CAA

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