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Mike BarryEye on the Island

By Mike Barry
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Hofstra Hoops

Hofstra University’s David S. Mack Sports and Exhibition Complex opened in 2000 and has been an excellent, inexpensive place to watch Division I basketball games over the past decade.

There’s full chair back seating for spectators, and just about every one of the arena’s 5,046 seats offer a good view of the court. And, if you haven’t been to the Mack Sports Complex in Hempstead yet, the Hofstra men’s and women’s varsity basketball teams are giving fans a reason to visit during their 2010-2011 campaigns.

The men’s squad had compiled a record of 11-5 and was 5-0 against their Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) rivals as of Friday, Jan. 14. Meanwhile, the Hofstra Pride women’s team boasted as of that same date an overall record of 10-5 and their upcoming schedule is filled with the names of CAA institutions.

Senior Charles Jenkins, a guard, is the marquee name atop the men’s roster. Having won the Haggerty Award in his sophomore and junior seasons, given each year to the top New York metropolitan area collegiate player, Jenkins could become the first athlete since one-time St. John’s University and National Basketball Association (NBA) star Chris Mullin to win this award three times. Jenkins, who is averaging 23.8 points per game, is also drawing favorable comparisons to Craig ‘Speedy’ Claxton, a Hofstra standout who was selected in the NBA draft’s first round in 2000. Indeed, a minimum of two to three NBA scouts attend Hofstra games, whether home or away, to assess Jenkins’ talents. But basketball is a team game, and first-year head coach Mo Cassara has also gotten major contributions from Fordham transfer Mike Moore, a junior averaging 13.9 points per game, as well as strong defensive play from sophomore David Imes and senior Greg Washington, the Pride’s leading rebounders.

Sophomore forward Shante Evans is a force on both offense (17.1 points per game) and defense (10.7 rebounds each game), which has prompted opponents of Hofstra women’s basketball team to double-team, or even triple-team, Evans to keep her from shooting. Head coach Krista Kilburn-Steveskey has leveraged this to the Pride’s advantage, asking junior point guard Candice Bellocchio, who had a team-leading 94 assists as of mid-January, to distribute the ball to other scorers on the perimeter, such as junior guard Nicole Capurso and freshman guard Kate Loper. Capurso and Loper are each averaging a little over 11 points per game this season.

GoHofstra.com offers detailed information about the players as well as each team’s schedule for the balance of the regular season. The men’s squad has home games against CAA rivals such as James Madison University (Jan. 24) and Drexel University (Jan. 29) over the next week or so while the Hofstra women are playing CAA teams like the University of Delaware (Jan. 30) and William & Mary (Feb. 3) at the Mack Sports Complex.

If a Hofstra-related road trip is the call, the CAA is holding its men’s basketball championship tournament in Richmond, VA between March 4-7 while the women’s basketball championship is being held in Upper Marlboro, MD soon thereafter (March 10-13).

Mike Barry, a corporate communications consultant, has worked in government and journalism. Email: MFBARRY@optonline.net