Last season, Mo Cassara remembered fondly, it seemed all the breaks went Hofstra's way. Who can forget the win over William & Mary that went to overtime when Charles Jenkins hit a halfcourt shot at the buzzer and that Hofstra won when Jenkins buried another ridiculously long three-pointer at the end of OT?
Those were the good old days. These days, Cassara is not quite sure what to make of his team's 6-13 record and 0-7 mark in Colonial Athletic Association play after a 56-50 loss to Drexel that was decided in the final seconds Wednesday night at the Mack Sports Complex. The bottom line is the bottom line, but when Cassara looks at how hard his team has played and how close so many of the losses have been, it's hard to believe the record isn't far better.
"Certainly, I'm proud of the effort," Cassara said after the Pride overcame a 10-point deficit to take a brief second-half lead and then trailed by one with 35 seconds to play. "The effort continues to be great. That's a good Drexel tream that was voted preseason favorite and has won 11 of its last 12, and we went toe-to-toe with them down the stretch."
Cassara said senior Mike Moore told his teammates after the game they don't play like a losing team, and the coach agreed with him. "I don't see a losing team in that locker room," Cassara said. "It's one shot here or there. Shemiye McLendon had a couple great looks that didn't go in. We need one of those to go in, and the game changes…I've been on teams where you know you're not good enough. I really feel this team is good enough."
Last season's 14-4 CAA record and third-place finish seems like a dream now. Things could get much worse for the Pride because they now face a tough road trip to Virginia for games against James Madison on Saturday and VCU two days later, and then, they come home to face George Mason, which currently is tied for first in the CAA with Old Dominion.
So, Cassara is preaching the prospect of a late-season turnaround and the potential for a run in the conference tournament. He has the perfect analogy. "I used a New York Giants-Packers analogy," Cassara said of his postgame remarks to the Pride. "The Packers were the best team in the league all year, and the Giants were in disarray just before Christmas. They were going to fire the coach, and the team wasn't going to make the playoffs.
"They won one game [against the Jets], and all of a sudden, they're playing well. We're just waiting for that one win. It's going to come, and I told the team it might come in February, it might come the last week in February. If we can string a couple together and then win a couple games in the CAA tournament, that's what we're going to remember…We're going to find a way to string a couple wins together, and we're going to find a way to be the New York Giants in February."
Of course, nothing says the Pride can't begin in January, either.