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Locals gear up for big opening weekend

New Hofstra men's basketball coach Mo Cassara with

New Hofstra men's basketball coach Mo Cassara with senior guard Charles Jenkins, the 2009-10 CAA Player of the Year. (Nov. 4, 2010) Photo Credit: James Escher

There are many story lines to wrap around opening weekend in college basketball for the locals. Stony Brook opens up on the road against Connecticut, while Hofstra hosts Farmingdale State on Saturday. St. John’s caps the weekend with a 2 a.m. road game against St. Mary’s.

Friday
Stony Brook @ UConn
7:00 p.m.
TV/Radio: ESPN3 /WUSB 90.1 FM

On Stony Brook: After a masterful 2009-2010 campaign, the Seawolves (22-10) are hoping to keep the momentum going. It might be a lot to ask of Stony Brook to knock off Connecticut. But Huskies aren’t a contender this season and could be ripe for an early season upset. Leading the way for Stony Brook is its sophomore duo of Bryan Dougher and Dallis Joyner and senior guard Chris Martin. The Seawolves suffered a major blow when leading rebounder Tommy Brenton suffered a season-ending knee injury in the off season. But there is enough depth, thanks to the signing of Brooklyn’s Dave Coley, sophomore Marcus Rouse and junior forward Danny Carter, for Stony Brook to excel. Rouse won't play against UConn due to an injury. Coley will start in his place. Rouse is only expected to miss a few games.

On UConn: It was a rough offseason for Connecticut. NCAA investigations and graduation have decimated the roster. Don’t look for Connecticut to come close to any of the Final Four teams of the past, but the Huskies won’t go down without a fight. Kemba Walker and Jamal Coombs-McDaniel lead a young crew that will have to learn on the job.

Saturday
Farmingdale State @ Hofstra
4:00 p.m.
Radio: WRHU 88.7 90.1 FM

On Hofstra: The Pride endured a brutal offseason. The departure of Tom Pecora and the dismissal of Tim Welch before shortly after getting hired was an embarrassment. All of this was wrapped around the departures of promising sophomores Chaz Williams (UMass) and Halil Kanacevic (St. Joseph’s). Things got worse when Nathaniel Lester suffered a season-ending injury. As bad as all of that seems, all is not lost. All-everything guard Charles Jenkins returns along with experienced big man Greg Washington. Brooklyn native and JUCO transfer Dwan McMillan will steps in at the point, while fellow Brooklynite and former Boys & Girls high school star David Imes will fill in at power forward.

On Farmingdale State: The Rams have a lot going for them. Leading scorer and rebounder Shahee Martin is back along with Alvin Dennis and Nikita Davis. Thanks to a nice bit of size with 6-9 Devon Henry and 6-7 Jermaine Abraham, the Rams might make a run of it against the Pride and should certainly make a splash in the Skyline Conference.

Monday
St. John’s @ St. Mary’s, Ca.
2:00 a.m.
TV / Radio: ESPN / No radio

On St. Johns: The page turns on a new chapter for the Red Storm with Steve Lavin taking over. Thanks to a roster full of experienced seniors and a super talented freshman in Dwayne Polee, the Red Storm is in position to make a quick turnaround. We’re not saying they are necessarily Final Four bound, but a new coach and a new attitude can do wonders. A fast start would get St. John’s back into the good graces with the fans rather quickly. And yes, it’s not a typo, the game starts at 2 a.m. Monday morning.

On St. Mary’s: Double-double machine Omar Samhan is gone, but the Gaels have more than enough returning to make this an extremely tough matchup for the Red Storm. Mickey McConnell and Matthew Dellavedova, the Gaels’ second and third leading scorers from last season, return with experienced players Clint Steindl and Tim Harris.
 

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