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Hofstra loses what might have been Pecora's finale

Hofstra University men's basketball head coach Tom Pecora

Hofstra University men's basketball head coach Tom Pecora instructs his team from the sideline during the first round of the CBI men's basketball tournament. (March 17, 2010) Photo Credit: Freelance/Photo by James A. Escher

Last night's season farewell for Hofstra - a never-in-doubt, 74-60 loss to obscure IUPUI in the unsung CBI tournament - amounted to little more than white noise in light of uncertainty over Tom Pecora's future.

With Seton Hall's firing of Bobby Gonzalez Wednesday, and Fordham's recent quiet interest, Pecora is hearing his name bandied around for a position in a higher-visibility conference than the Colonial Athletic Association. "If the phone starts ringing," he said, "we'll deal with that. With all due respect, a lot of names are in the paper."

The way Pecora's ninth season as Hofstra coach ended was "obviously not what we expected. Not what we planned on." But afterward he said, "We'll put the balls away, get to recruiting and the things we do." He has a TV commitment Thursday, then will head to Florida on a recruiting mission.

He acknowledged this game presented some trap doors for his team, which ended 19-15 against 25-10 IUPUI (full name, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis), after the first-round rout in the College Basketball Invitational. "With the postseason, when it's not the Big Dance," he said, "you hope the guys are focused, locked in."

Instead, the closest the event got to the Big Dance was a St. Patrick's Day jig by IUPUI, led by Robert Glenn's 32 points. The visitors led 13-0, shot 54 percent in the first half and never let Hofstra closer than six (at 29-23) before barely 1,000 spectators.

"We've never come out that flat," Pecora said. "But, whether they're hanging from the rafters or not, you're playing for pride and for the name on the front of your shirt."

Hofstra was without Greg Washington, its leading shot blocker and No. 2 rebounder, because of an ankle injury. But a worse development was scoring leader Charles Jenkins' start; he didn't score until midway through the first half. Jenkins had 21 points, but the team shot only 36 percent from the field.

So here is Pecora, second in Hofstra basketball wins - 155 in nine years compared to Butch van Breda Kolff's 215 in 15 - very possibly having coached his last game at the Hempstead school. If Seton Hall comes calling, as it reportedly did in 2006, or Fordham or someone else . . .

"I love it here," he said. "I've got a tremendous job. You don't think of that stuff until the season's over. I would first talk to Jack Hayes and the president. I'm not in any rush to leave."

But a better opportunity for terpsichore, the art of Dancing in the Big One, would appeal.

Former Hall player arrested.A former Seton Hall basketball player has been arrested, accused of robbing a house full of people at gunpoint Monday in South Orange, N.J. Robert Mitchell was kicked off the team Sunday by then-coach Bobby Gonzalez.


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