Denton Koon has seen tape of Hofstra's double-overtime loss to William & Mary in the semifinals of the CAA Tournament last March, when a three-pointer by Daniel Dixon with eight-tenths of a second left beat the Pride, 92-91.
With a smile, the 6-8 transfer forward from Princeton shook his head and said, "It's brutal. Brutal."
He has yet to play a game, but Koon has been around long enough to feel his new teammates' pain and to hope he can be the missing ingredient that carries the Pride to a conference title and the NCAA Tournament. The chance to play with a team that returns the likes of Juan'Ya Green, Ameen Tanksley, Brian Bernardi and Malik Nichols is why Koon chose Hofstra.
Koon tore a medial collateral ligament and missed his entire senior season at Princeton, but with a year of eligibility remaining, he was able to transfer as a graduate student. The former honorable-mention All-Ivy League forward averaged 10.5 points as a sophomore and 7.7 as a junior. He was contacted by schools from Stanford to Rhode Island before settling on the Pride.
"I got to come up here and play with the team and meet the guys," Koon said of the re-recruiting process. "The coaching staff was refreshing and the style of play is up-tempo. I thought that would be good for me and a little more exciting to play that way."
Of course, Princeton still uses a version of former coach Pete Carril's highly structured offense, emphasizing backdoor passes and ball movement. Hofstra coach Joe Mihalich runs a more freewheeling fast-break attack that should give free rein to Koon's passing skills and his ability to score from the wing and contribute as a rebounder and defender.
"He does winning things," Mihalich said at Hofstra's basketball media day on Thursday. "We keep track of the pickup games, and he's something like 17-2."
"I love the tempo, trying to get out and make plays in transition," Koon said. "I think that's part of my game, and I didn't get to explore that as much while I was at Princeton. This allows room to be creative and just be a basketball player.
"I think this team has so many players with the ability to score that it makes passing easier. They'll be in positions to score, and hopefully I'll have chances to make good feeds . . . I think the pieces are here to have an exciting season and make a run."
Hofstra women: High hopes. Hofstra women's basketball coach Krista Kilburn-Steveskey returns four starters from a team that lost to James Madison in the CAA final. The Pride features veteran guards Kelly Loftus, Darius Faulk and Krystal Luciano along with forward Ashunae Durant, the CAA rookie of the year. "We are extremely excited after playing in the CAA final game," Kilburn-Steveskey said. "We have high expectations."