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Monday, November 19, 2012
Hofstra had a pretty great week

By Eamonn Brennan

Hofstra did not have a conventional October, and November was bound to be strange.

In early October, preparations for the Hofstra-hosted second presidential debate uprooted the Pride for two weeks before, and one week after, the actual debate itself. (The Secret Service doesn't play.) Two weeks later, Hurricane Sandy battered Long Island -- coach Mo Cassara, who lives on the beach, kept us posted from his office turned dog-kennel/storm bunker -- stranding at least one player off-campus in Brooklyn and causing Hofstra to miss another wave of practices in the midst of recovery.

That was among Hurricane Sandy's least-important effects, of course, but it was an effect all the same. With all that preseason turmoil, it was fair to wonder whether Hofstra would be able to make a go of it early in the 2012-13 season. If they stumbled in the first month, it wouldn't be hard to understand why.

In the first week of the season, that appeared to be the trajectory. Hofstra's 91-62 opening loss at Monmouth was an abject disaster. (Monmouth isn't a bad team, but that's a straight blowout.) On Nov. 11, Hofstra again lost by 29 points, though at Purdue that kind of loss was at least far more forgivable. Either way, after two games Cassara's team had been outscored by 58 points, and it was shaping up to be a long basketball November in Hempstead.

And then, Hofstra went ahead and did something like last week ... and totally redeemed itself!

The Pride didn't just bounce back with a win or two. They went 3-0, with wins over quality outfits. The first came against South Dakota State, which features walking college basketball fandom litmus test (I knew him before he signed a major label deal) Nate Wolters, who besides his relative obscurity also happens to be an excellent, potential All-American-type basketball player. The third came against Marshall, in a 103-100 double-overtime thriller, in which the Pride scored 1.13 points per trip on 91 possessions and somehow got the win despite DeAndre Kane's insane 33-point, 11-rebound, 10-assist triple double. Kane headlines a team that very much believes it should be in the NCAA tournament this year -- Marshall was just outside the bubble for much of last season, was no easy out, and comes with a very tough nonconference schedule this season -- and a win over the Herd is not something any Hofstra observer could have rightfully expected even a week ago.

So, yeah, it was a pretty impressive week by Hofstra. Given the wacky preseason, it's even more so.