A dozen days since Hofstra men’s basketball’s first official practice and two weeks before the Pride get set to open the season at national powerhouse Kansas, head coach Tom Pecora is satisfied with the progress of his many younger players, who will help provide a deep bench in 2009/2010.
After today’s hour and a half practice concluded Coach Pecora told “Inside the Pride” that he anticipates playing a nine possibly 10-deep lineup that will have the ability to run the floor more than previous teams. The prospects of being a heavy transition team are made possible by having a deeper bench and the early progress of new guards Chaz Williams and Brad Kelleher, which will allow junior Charles Jenkins to play off the ball for longer stretches. “We’re going to play at a little bit of a quicker pace,” said Pecora.
Jenkins, who averaged 19.7 points per game as a sophomore, has shown a serious focus in the early practices and is a perfect example for younger players to follow on and off the court, according to Pecora. “He is on the right page and he is definitely focused and he is doing a great job being a good leader,” said Pecora of Jenkins, who earned Colonial Athletic Association pre-season player of the year honors after winning last year's Haggerty Award given to the best player in the New York City metropolitan region.
Pecora has also been satisfied with the progress of his seven new players, particularly Williams, Kelleher and freshman power forward Halil Kanacevic. The 6’8 Kanacevic showed he has the potential to be force on the glass with seven rebounds in the first 12 minutes of Saturday's Blue/Gold scrimmage at fanfest while Kelleher, a 6-0 junior college transfer from Australia has shown some three-point shooting ability in the early practices. The 5’9 Williams, who was rated the sixth best recruit in New York City by Rivals.com, has showcased his lighting quick speed in practice and brought Saturday’s fanfest crowd to its feet when he ended the Blue/Gold scrimmage with a dunk off a steal.
“He is a one-man fast break,” said Pecora of Williams, who has also shown in the early going that he has the potential for a consistent outside shot. “He’s a crafty little guy who is going to get into the lane versus a zone and is going to cause a lot of problems for teams in there.”
While bringing back only five scholarship players and having several new faces can present its challenges, Pecora has been happy with how veteran players have stepped up to be mentors to the younger players and bring them up to speed on what it takes to thrive as a Hofstra basketball player. “We talk to [the veteran players] about spending time with the young guys, teaching the young guys what they know and how to go about business as a player on this level,” he said.
Hofstra will get thrown in the fire right away to start the season with its opening game at possible pre-season number one ranked Kansas on Nov. 13 and a potential third game at 2009 Final Four participant Connecticut if the Pride can defeat Yale in the first round of the NIT Season Tipoff. Hofstra’s home opener against Division III Farmingdale State on Nov. 20 is free to the public with the next scheduled game at the Mack Sports Complex slated for Nov. 30 against Fairfield.