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Local basketball review
Hofstra: The Pride (3-7) has had a rough go of it lately, particularly on offense. The Pride has failed to reach the 60-point plateau in four of its last five games. Mo Cassara’s crew remedied that a bit on Saturday with its 88-84 loss at LIU. The loss still hurts, but Hofstra did find a new weapon. Penn State Taran Buie scored 29 in the loss. It was the fifth straight game the sophomore guard has scored in double figures. He had 22 in a 67-56 loss at Manhattan. Stevie Mejia (10.3 ppg.) has also given the Pride some punch offensively and had 13 against LIU.
The Pride needs more offense and hopes it will come when Fresno State transfer Daquan Brown becomes eligible on December 22 when Hofstra plays Tulane at the Barclays Center. Getting Connecticut transfer Jamal Coombs-McDaniel (knee) back will also help.
St. Johns: Aside from a recent setback against San Francisco, St. John’s (7-3) has been on a nice roll, with a solid win over South Carolina (89-65). It hasn’t been all roses, though. The Red Storm is still young and still working in a lot of new pieces. One of those new faces who’s been a pleasant surprise is freshman forward Chris Obekpa. The Our Savior New American grad is averaging 4.9 blocked shots per game and had 11 in St. John’s 58-47 win over Fordham on December 8.
St. John’s gets St. Francis (NY) and then UNC Asheville before its Big East schedule begins on January 2 at Villanova. With all of the young talent, including scoring machine D’Angelo Harrison (20.2 ppg), much will be expected of the Red Storm when March hits.
Stony Brook: One of the hottest teams in the area, Stony Brook (6-2) embarks on a five-game road strip that will take it into the New Year. The trip begins with a trip to Downtown Brooklyn on Tuesday night to face an improved St. Francis (NY) program. That game will be followed by Sacred Heart, Maryland, Seton Hall and Manhattan.
In previous seasons, Stony Brook may not have been equipped to handle that type of a trip. That isn’t the case this season. With solid backcourt play from Anthony Jackson and Dave Coley and a strong inside presence led by senior forward Tommy Brenton and freshman forward Jameel Varney, finishing the trip on the positive side of .500 isn’t too much to ask.
LIU-Brooklyn (3-4) has won three straight since a 0-4 start and looks to be on a hot streak. Julian Boys is averaging 20 points over his last five games and Jamal Olasewere is averaing 15 points and 5.2 rebounds during the same stretch. Things won’t get any easier for the Blackbirds, who play at Rice on December 12, followed a home game against Manhattan and a five-game road trip that runs through January 5. It’s also important to note that Boyd, Olaswere, Troy Joseph and C.J. Garner will be suspended from the first two NEC games of the season (Sacred Heart, Quinnipiac) stemming from a summer brawl that resulted in the arrest of the four players.
Manhattan (3-5) isn’t off to the start it hope to be, but star guard George Beamon has been sidelined with an ankle injury. The Roslyn High School graduate has missed the last two games. But the Jaspers got a big game out of Rhamel Brown in a 75-55 win over Siena on Sunday. The Jaspers have a tough one at LIU on Sunday, December 16, followed by games against South Carolina, Columbia and home against Stony Brook on Dec. 1.
St. Francis NY (2-5) has lost three straight, but will try to right the ship on Tuesday night at Stony Brook…Iona (3-4) has dropped two straight and will play at Georgia on December 15…Columbia (5-4) stopped a three-game losing streak with a win at American on December 9…Seton Hall (7-2) and Rutgers (5-2) are both off to strong starts.
Tags: St. John's , Stony Brook , LIU Brooklyn , Hofstra , Manhattan , Iona , St. Francis NY , Mo Cassara , Taran Buie , Jamal Coombs-McDaniel , Stevie Mejia , Chris Obepka , D'Angelo Harrison , Tommy Brenton , Jameel Varney , Anthony Jackson , Dave Coley