Tom Pecora did not give up on the progress his team had made in three consecutive wins before yesterday. "You know me," the Hofstra men's basketball coach said. "The glass is half-full."
If only he could say the same about the basket.
The host Pride did play exceptionally for half a game against the Colonial Athletic Association's top team, leading by two points at the break. After that, Hofstra went colder than winds in a nor'easter, making only a quarter of its shots. And its solid effort and winning streak tumbled, 75-55, to Northeastern.
It took Hofstra nearly half of the second half to get a basket. Not until Halil Kanacevic scored on a layup with 10:13 left did the Pride manage a field goal. By that time, Northeastern had produced a 20-3 burst, forced the Pride into four turnovers and 0-for-11 shooting and taken a 50-35 lead. And things never really got much better for Hofstra.
So was it what Northeastern (16-8, 11-2 CAA) did with its solid zone, or was it what Hofstra (12-13, 5-8) didn't do?
"A little of both," Pecora said. "They have great overall size. I think we made some bad decisions. We didn't make the right read, we didn't get the ball to the right person, and that becomes a contested shot."
Northeastern guard Matt Janning, who scored 17 points, said, "We came out and wanted to put all our effort on defense. It leads to our offense . . . You've got to have effort. If you're going to go out there and walk through screens and just kind of mope around, you're not going to have success. You've got to work on the defensive end."
Janning also excelled on offense, prompting Pecora to say the game showed why he is an all-conference player. The Hofstra coach went on to say that Janning has a Wayne Gretzky-like flair for making the key pass that leads to the pass that leads to the basket.
Janning said he didn't know much about hockey until he went to college in Boston (despite having come from Minnesota). But he appreciated the compliment.
Charles Jenkins, Hofstra's star guard, did not have as big an impact. He took only 11 shots and made only three in a 14-point day. The Pride's marquee player needs to work to get 20 attempts, his coach said, adding, "He can't just let people faceguard him and say, 'Well, now, I'm not going to take a shot this trip down the floor.' With greatness comes responsibility."
Then again, Jenkins doesn't have running mates to match Northeastern's Chaisson Allen (16 points) or Manny Adako (14). Cornelius Vines had 11 points and Miklos Szabo 10 for the Pride, but Hofstra shot 19-for-60, 7-for-28 in the second half.
Pecora won't ride his players too hard. But he won't let them forget there's still half a glass to fill. "They have to have some pride," he said, "in [remembering] somebody came in here and beat their tails pretty good."