The Hofstra men’s basketball team’s much-hyped season opening game at top-ranked Kansas this Friday appears like it will become even more of a mountain to climb with the possibility of not having the services of highly-touted newcomers Brad Kelleher and David Imes.
Kelleher may not be available for this Friday’s game at Phog Allen Fieldhouse due to some NCAA clearinghouses issues while Imes is nursing an ankle injury he suffered in a scrimmage against Columbia this past Saturday. After today’s practice Hofstra head coach Tom Pecora said he is still awaiting a ruling from the NCAA over if Kelleher, a versatile 6'0 guard, will have to miss any action to start the season because of games he played in his native Australia prior to arriving at Hofstra. While he is still holding out some hope the NCAA will clear Kelleher, he is realistic that the transfer from Midland College in Texas will likely have to miss at least one or two games.
“I know the way the NCAA works and they are usually overly officious when it comes to issues like this,” said Pecora of his realism that Kelleher likely will not get cleared to play at Kansas.
The decision on whether the 6’7 230 pound Imes’s availability for Kansas will be a game-time decision depending on how fast his injury heels. Imes, a freshman forward from Brooklyn who prepped last year at Winchendon School in Massachusetts, had a boot on his injured ankle at today’s practice.
Even if Kelleher and Imes are available for Kansas, defeating the number one-team in the country at one of the most hostile college basketball venues in the country will be a herculean challenge. Kansas returns all five starters including senior point guard Sherron Collins and junior center Cole Aldrich, both preseason All-Americans.
“You have to execute your game plan to near perfection to be able to beat a team that talented especially on the road,” said Pecora. “You have to make every possession count.”
Hofstra returns five only scholarship players from last season’s 21-11 team but all were major contributors led by junior guard Charles Jenkins, who was named Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) co-preseason player of the year. With seven new players this season, Hofstra’s fate will likely hinge how quickly they mature on the court. “I tell them my assistants just to get them old,” joked Pecora of the hope that his new players will soon be playing like veterans.
Hofstra’s early-season schedule is hectic one as after leaving Kansas the Pride will head to Storrs, Conn. to face Yale Monday in the first round of the NIT Season Tipoff with a victory over the Bulldogs setting up a likely matchup with national powerhouse Connecticut the next night. Hofstra’s home opener is scheduled for Nov. 20 against Farmingdale State at 7 p.m.