If the whole idea of a college basketball season, and of college for that matter, is to learn as you go, count Hofstra as having taken at least a little something out of a lost night.
“You learn from your opponent,” coach Joe Mihalich said. “They taught us a lesson tonight.”
Manhattan took the Pride to school Friday night at Draddy Gym with an 80-68 undoing that never was all that close. Hofstra got within six points in the second half but never did make a run. The Pride never had anything to match the performance of Manhattan’s Zavier Peart, who averaged 3.4 points in junior college last season and scored 16 on Friday night on 8-for-9 shooting.
“I don’t want to take anything away from him, the kid had a good night. But I feel like there wasn’t a lot of resistance out there,” Mihalich said. “Maybe we didn’t make [our players] aware that if you’re a Division I college basketball player, you can turn around and make a layup.”
Peart scored 14 of those points in the first half, when his team took an eight-point lead. Manhattan dominated the paint, limiting Hofstra big man Rokas Gustys to seven points and eight rebounds. Winning coach Steve Masiello said it helped that Manhattan (1-2) had numerous big bodies to throw out there, wearing down Gustys and shackling him with foul trouble.
Also, it helped that Masiello inspired Peart before the game. “What really made me step up was Coach told me to change, be 2.0,” the forward said after edging Aaron Walker Jr. (15 points) for team honors.
But as far as Hofstra (1-2) was concerned, the real key was that the level of competitiveness was one-sided. “They taught us what it’s like to play defense, they taught us what it’s like to be tough, they taught us what it’s like to play hard,” Mihalich said.
He added that there were few bright spots for the visitors, but three guards did have a combined 46 points. There was promise in the fact that Justin Wright-Foreman, a sophomore from Queens, was the leading scorer with 17 (followed by Eli Pemberton with 15 and Brian Bernardi with 14).
Wright-Foreman said he got “in the groove,” scoring all of his points in the second half. Still, he knows that it will mean something only if the Pride learns from it.
“It was definitely on the defensive side of the ball, we were definitely too soft, like Coach said,” the guard said. “Me, personally, I think things are going to get better quick. We have to go into the game with the mindset that we have to be better on the defensive side of the ball. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.”
And there is a lot of learning to be done.