For more than a month in midseason, it seemed Hofstra might be headed for one of its worst seasons ever under coach Tom Pecora, losing nine of 11 games while battling the effects of key injuries. Instead, the Pride made one of the most remarkable turnarounds in school history to enter the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament on a roll that includes six straight wins and nine in the past 10 games.
Richmond Coliseum, where seventh-seeded Hofstra (18-13, 10-8 CAA) meets 10th-seeded Georgia State (12-19, 5-13) Friday night at 6, has been a burial ground for the Pride since it joined the CAA in 2001. But if the past 10-game stretch is any indication, Hofstra could play the role of giant-killer.
"It really is a new season," Pecora said Thursday. "It's better to come in off a winning streak and feeling confident about yourself. But now our goal is to achieve something no Hofstra team has ever done, and that's to come down here and win four games and win a championship."
The Pride's opener is a rematch of Saturday's regular-season finale in which it defeated the Panthers, 87-74, in Hempstead. If Hofstra wins, it advances to a quarterfinal matchup Saturday night against second-seeded Northeastern (19-11, 14-4), which the Pride beat, 73-62, Feb. 23 in Boston.
"Your past performance will not dictate future performance," Pecora said. "You want to go in confident but not cocky, thinking things will end up the way they did a week ago. I think we're a mature enough team to understand that and take care of business. I think the key is if we play like a mature team, we're going to be OK. If our immaturity pokes its head out, we're going to be in trouble."