Mo Cassara struck a positive tone late Wednesday night, when he agreed with Mike Moore that the Flying Dutchmen are a much better team than their record indicates and spoke hopefully of the Dutchmen channeling the New York Giants after Hofstra endued its latest agonizing near-miss and remained winless in the CAA with a 60-54 loss to Drexel.
“As Mike Moore said in the locker room, we’ve all been on teams before that are losing teams or teams that are not winning,” Cassara said. “But I don’t see a losing team in that locker room. I see a team that continues to come out and fight and battle and practice hard everyday. We just haven’t been able to execute enough plays down the stretch.”
“I used a little bit of the New York Giants analogy. The Packers are the best team in the league all year and the Giants, before Christmas, were in disarray. They weren’t winning they were going to fire the coach and the team wasn’t going to make the playoffs. And now they won one game at a key time and then all of a sudden they’re playing well. We’re just waiting for that one win and it’s going to come.”
But even as Cassara remained optimistic and hopeful of a dramatic turnaround from an 0-7 CAA start, realism began to creep into his sentiments. Even if the Dutchmen fare far better down the stretch and in the CAA Tournament than the previous teams to start open the conference season with seven straight losses, the odds are the Dutchmen will have to take solace in playing for and salvaging—wait for it—pride.
Hofstra and Towson are the sixth and seventh teams to start 0-7 in CAA play since 2001-02 and the 11th and 12th to endure such a start in conference history. There’s little doubt the Dutchmen are the best of these 0-7 teams—their seven losses are by 42 points, a margin rivaled only by Richmond in 1994-95 (47 points)—but even a historic end-of-season run by the Dutchmen will make it difficult to avoid the fate suffered by their predecessors.
Only two teams started 0-7 in CAA play and managed to avoid finishing last or next-to-last in the conference (William & Mary in 2004-05 and Northeastern last year). In addition, none of the 0-7 squads went on to win more than one game in the CAA Tournament.
In a conference in which the lack of a bye has proven to be an insurmountable hurdle even for teams that finish in the top half of the conference—as you know, the next team to play on Friday and win the CAA Tournament will be the first—even the most devout of Dutchmen followers will have a hard time envisioning a scenario in which the Dutchmen aren’t headed home well before the Monday night championship game.
“I told our team [the win] might come in February, it might come in the last week in February, and if we can string a couple together and then win a couple games in the CAA, that’s what we’re going to remember and that’s what we’re doing to look to continue to build on,” Cassara said.
Making the climb even tougher for the Dutchmen is an unforgiving schedule. After playing at James Madison today, the Dutchmen visit VCU—where they have never won—Monday before returning home Wednesday to host George Mason. Then there’s a trip to Boston for a game next Saturday against Northeastern, whose rebuilding program appears to be coming to fruition a year ahead of time.
Finally, on Feb. 1, the Dutchmen get Towson for the only time this season. This is the 27th season in which Hofstra and Towson are in the same conference and the first time in which they play just once in the regular season. It’s been that kind of year.
“We’re going to get back to work [Thursday] and we’re going to get back to work on Friday and we go to James Madison and VCU in three days,” Cassara said. “So it doesn’t get much easier. Then we come back home and play George Mason. So you tell me where the break is there. I’d like to know. But we don’t really have one right now.”