Saturday, January 8, 2011

Five pre-game thoughts: Northeastern

1.) This might be the biggest test Hofstra has faced all year—bigger than opening the season against North Carolina, bigger than taking on George Mason three nights ago, bigger than anything in between. Because none of those games were played less than 12 hours after the Flying Dutchmen completed a 10-hour bus ride. The Dutchmen didn’t get to their hotel until about 1 a.m. after the bus ride from hell in the snowstorm that wasn’t supposed to be a snowstorm (seriously, meteorologists, you suck more than anything else has ever sucked). It wouldn’t be so bad if the game was a 7 pm start, but it’s a nooner because Matthews Arena is hosting a hockey game at night. The horrendous bus ride is only one reason why…

2.) …if the Dutchmen lose, I don’t want to hear a thing about trap games. This was a big-time challenge even before the Dutchmen learned they could have walked to Boston faster than they bussed there. The Dutchmen, who attended the funeral for the mother of recent signee Malik Nichols Friday morning, had a draining day prior to boarding the bus. And who knows how the thin Dutchmen will respond playing about 60 hours after the emotional win over Mason—especially if Brad Kelleher (ankle) remains hobbled and Dwan McMillan (eye) remains out. A loss won’t have us jumping off the bandwagon by any stretch but a win would, in a way, be even more impressive than Wednesday.

3.) All that said, Mo Cassara isn’t going to let the Dutchmen make excuses and will not accept any as they prepare for their first game as CAA frontrunners. This is also the first CAA game in which the Dutchmen will be the obvious favorite, and Cassara—as well as everybody else—will be eager to see how the Dutchmen handle this latest burst of prosperity as well as life as the pursued instead of the pursuers.

4.) This is a good opportunity for Greg Washington and David Imes to assert themselves and become those other offensive options behind Charles Jenkins. Northeastern starts two players who are at least 6-foot-10, but Ryan Pierson (not Pearson) and Dinko Marshavelski are freshmen and the only upperclassmen taller than 6-foot-4 is 6-foot-10 Vinny Luma. Northeastern has been outrebounded by an average of five boards per game, so look for Washington, who had 21 rebounds in three games against Northeastern last year, to have a resurgent performance under the basket.

5.) Whatever happens today, this game is going to the wire. Bill Coen is too prideful (groan) to let this season get out of control and 100-year-old Matthews Arena is a tough place to play. I’d also expect both teams to enjoy a strong defensive game and I’ll be surprised if this one gets out of the 50s.

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