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Hofstra Pride look to build off momentum from last season despite key departure

The Hofstra Pride Men’s Basketball team is coming off a very successful season. The Pride finished with a 27-8 record, including 15-3 in conference, and the regular-season Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) championship, making it all the way to the conference championship game before falling to Northeastern University.

This season, the Pride are without star guard Justin Wright-Foreman, but return a number of starters. They also add in some new faces to create an overall strong team that was ranked number one in the CAA preseason poll.

“High expectations are good,” said Athletic Director Rick Cole Jr. “We’re not afraid of them, you can meet them and you can surpass them.” It’s the first time since 2015 Hofstra was picked number one in the CAA preseason poll. “I think [it] says a lot based on what we’ve lost,” Cole said, “I think it says a lot about who we are, what we have today.” 

The Pride aren’t concerned about the ranking, however, and don’t believe it means much; “I reminded our guys yesterday, we got picked first because of what we did last year,” head coach Joe Mihalich said. “It’s not last year anymore.”

The Pride go into this season with some new faces in the starting lineup, most notably junior guard Jalen Ray. “It’s going to be Jalen Ray [that starts],” Mihalich said. “He’s earned it.”

Ray averaged 7.7 points per game in his sophomore season coming off the bench. 

The team will be led by a pair of seniors this season, Desure Buie and Eli Pemberton, who will look to help the Pride build off of last season’s success and help young players improve their games for the future. “When I talk about great leaders, I don’t know if Desure Buie has an equal, I don’t know if Elijah Pemberton has an equal,” Mihalich said. 

Forward/Center Isaac Kante hopes to make a big impact in his first season in Hempstead. The 6-foot-7 junior transferred from the University of Georgia after his freshman season and sat out last year due to NCAA transfer rules but practiced with the team. “[I’ve] been shooting a lot with Coach Speedy [Claxton], getting that jump shot up,” Kante said about improvements to his game. “The jump shot is looking smoother now and it opens up the floor for the team.” 

Kante also echoed his coach’s words about proving why the team was picked first in the CAA poll; “We [haven’t done anything] yet, so we [have to] prove it,” he said. 

The Pride will look to build on a successful 2018-19 campaign with a combination of old faces and newcomers. They open their season on Wednesday, Nov. 6 at home against San Jose State University.

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