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Mike BarryEye on the Island

By Mike Barry
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Hofstra Aims High

The Hofstra men’s basketball team is not afraid of a challenge.

To open their regular season on Friday evening, Nov. 13, Hofstra is traveling to Lawrence, Kansas to play the University of Kansas Jayhawks. Kansas is the top men’s college basketball team in the nation, according to a recent ESPN/USA Today coaches’ poll, and two of the Jayhawks’ starters were named to the Associated Press’ pre-season All-America team.

Hofstra’s ambitious schedule, however, is a sign of the high-quality Division I basketball that will be played in the coming months at the Mack Sports Complex in Hempstead. The Pride’s home opener is on Friday, Nov. 20 against Farmingdale State College.

In what has been an effective advertising campaign, Hofstra has highlighted the cost effectiveness of purchasing a men’s basketball season ticket package. The least expensive offering starts at $99 per person but even the more desirable seats to all 14 home games cost no more than $195 per person. Moreover, there is no charge for parking and the 5,045 chair-back seat Mack Sports Complex is a family-friendly and comfortable place to watch a game. Businesses looking to entertain clients ought to inquire about the Hofstra Basketball Corporate Experience, too.

One of key players on Hofstra head coach Tom Pecora’s roster is junior guard Charles Jenkins, who won the Haggerty Award as the New York Metro area’s best collegiate player in 2008-2009, a season in which Hofstra posted a record of 21-11 and Jenkins was their leading scorer. The last sophomore before Jenkins to win the Haggerty Award was now-retired NBA superstar Chris Mullin, who won it while at St. John’s University in the early 1980s.

Joining Jenkins, who averaged 20 points a game last year, in Hofstra’s backcourt are junior Nathaniel Lester and senior Cornelius Vines. Vines averaged almost 11 points a game during the 2008-2009 season, making him the team’s second leading scorer. Greg Washington, a junior forward from Centereach, is a major defensive force for Hofstra, and holds the school’s single-season record for blocked shots (68).

Hofstra is in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) so two of the pivotal games on their home schedule are against CAA rivals Virginia Commonwealth University (Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2010) and George Mason University (Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2010). But metro area college basketball fans might also be drawn to Hofstra for regional contests against Fairfield University (Monday, Nov. 30) and Manhattan (Wednesday, Dec. 9).

Hofstra’s women’s basketball team is also playing 14 home games in 2009-2010 at the Mack Sports Complex, the first of which is on Monday, Nov. 16 at 7 p.m. against the State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo. Having posted a record of 16-14 last season under head coach Krista Kilburn-Steveskey, the team’s fortunes improved dramatically when compared to its 2007-2008 campaign. Senior center Jess Fuller, who averaged 11.9 points and 8 rebounds per game last season, was named to the All-CAA’s second team and sophomore forward Joelle Connelly was the CAA’s Rookie of the Year in 2008-2009. Connelly had an impressive freshman year, averaging 9.1 points and 6.2 rebounds per game.

For information on how to purchase tickets to either Hofstra men’s or women’s basketball games, log onto www.gohofstra.com

Mike Barry, a corporate communications consultant, has worked in government and journalism.

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