The snapshot on Wednesday as Hofstra held its basketball media day had the members of the Pride hoping Justin Wright-Foreman would make his NBA debut in the Utah Jazz’s opener after it was announced Tuesday that the second-round pick made the roster. The big picture was more about the Pride figuring out how to replace the two-time Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Year.
Wright-Foreman was many things to the Pride: a leader, a scorer, the big-shot taker and the big-shot maker.
When it comes to the leadership role, Hofstra has its man in senior point guard Desure Buie.
“You have to communicate to motivate and you have to motivate to lead — that’s Desure, a great communicator,” Pride coach Joe Mihalich said. “He has a real gift: he has a way of making people who he wants them to be.”
“He is someone everyone on the team looks up to,” said senior swingman Eli Pemberton, the Pride’s top returning scorer (15.0 points per game) and odds-on choice to fill many of Wright-Foreman’s other roles.
“I am thankful that I’ve built good relationships on this team and the way that that has allowed them to trust me and my experience,” Buie said. “I’ve been able to tell them when they do things right and when they do things wrong. And I am grateful that I followed great veteran leaders who gave me the experience.”
Mihalich describes Buie as a “high-character” individual and tells a revealing story about the person he is.
All of Hofstra’s athletes gathered to hear motivational speaker Dr. Derek Greenfield in the fall of 2017. As his presentation began to delve into the topic of suicide, Greenfield had some Hofstra athletes sharing their stories about when they contemplated taking their own lives. One described reaching the point where he held a gun to his head before stopping.
“It halted the whole place but in that moment [Buie] walked across the the room and hugged the kid,” Mihalich said.
“It was a powerful moment because you don’t know what anyone is going through.But not everyone has support and to hear that broke my heart a little bit," Buie said. "I thought ‘maybe I could be the change that helps him in his life.’ ...I always spoke to him when I saw him after that because I wanted to keep him looking forward.”
Buie has seen a lot at Hofstra. He’s missed almost an entire season with a knee injury and been on two Pride teams that won regular-season titles. On last year’s squad, which won the regular season crown and lost in the tourney title game before going to the NIT, he averaged 10.7 points and 5.2 assists.
And he feels that even without Wright-Foreman this could be Mihalich’s first Hofstra team to make the NCAA Tournament.
“We definitely have what it takes but no one just jumps into a championship game,” Buie said. “We’re going to have to do things right every day, compete at the high level we should and also keep improving.”