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Marcus' analysis: Fordham may try to lure Hofstra's Pecora

Hofstra head coach Tom Pecora gives signals from

Hofstra head coach Tom Pecora gives signals from the sidelines during a game against Delaware. (Jan. 30, 2010) Credit: Joe Rogate

Tom Pecora might be coaching his last game at Hofstra Arena Wednesday night when the Pride hosts Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) in the College Basketball Invitational.

"I'm not going to go into it thinking that way,'' Pecora said Monday. "But by the end of our season, I'm not naive to think there might be some people who want to talk with me . . . As soon as the season is over, this will run its course.''

The last serious thought Pecora gave to leaving Hofstra occurred in 2006, when he said he turned down Seton Hall of the Big East. Asked if he'd rather be in the CBI with Hofstra or the NIT with Seton Hall, he replied, "That's an interesting question.''

Pecora, 52, in his ninth season at Hofstra, is not likely to turn down the next offer. St. John's - if it replaces NIT-bound Norm Roberts - would be a no-brainer, but the more immediate opening might be at Fordham, where interim coach Jared Grasso might not be retained.

Pecora's name surfaced in connection with Fordham early this season after the firing of Dereck Whittenburg. Also on Fordham's short list is alumnus Mike Rice, who has led Robert Morris to the NCAA Tournament, where it will face Villanova and former Hofstra coach Jay Wright.

The more experienced Pecora might be the leading contender at Fordham. "If he's interested, we'd be very interested in him,'' said a person familiar with Fordham's planning.

Why consider Fordham, which finished last in the Atlantic 10 and is years removed from being a significant factor in New York basketball? It is all about conference affiliation and perhaps a better chance to make the NCAAs, something Pecora desires to validate his career.

Pecora has lamented Hofstra's plight in the Colonial Athletic Association, which usually gets only the automatic NCAA bid. The A-10 received three Sunday. "There's a league that's upset about getting [only] three,'' he said. "There's a league [CAA] that's never gotten three. That kind of sums the whole thing up.''Hofstra would be interested in joining the A-10, but no opening - or interest by that conference - is foreseen.

Fordham's expanded basketball budget could double the estimated $400,000 Pecora earns. Hofstra upped the ante to keep him from leaving for Seton Hall. Would it do the same this time? Athletic director Jack Hayes sent word he would not discuss personnel matters.

Hofstra (19-14) didn't merit much consideration for the NIT, so it settled for the CBI, which it rejected after going 21-11 last season.

"Last year, we had six seniors. This year, we have five freshmen,'' Pecora said. "I thought with a young team . . . it is important for me to get games in.''

With a victory, Pecora will have won at least 20 games in five of the last six seasons, albeit without an NCAA appearance. He is 155-125 at Hofstra, the second-most victories in school history behind Butch van Breda Kolff's 215 in 13 years. If this is it, Pecora has had a good run.

New York Sports