1.) South Dakota State (1-1 with a home win over Tennessee State and a buzzer-beating loss to Alabama) not only has the coolest nickname of any non-conference foe, but the Jackrabbits might be the best team the Flying Dutchmen face in November or December. South Dakota State returns all five starters from the team that won the Summit League and reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time last year, where it fell to Baylor 68-60 in the first round (yeah, it’s the first round to me, cram it, NCAA). The Jackrabbits have their own Charles Jenkins in Nate Wolters, a 6-foot-3 senior guard who was tabbed as one of the 50 finalists for the Wooden Award. Wolters is on pace to become South Dakota State’s all-time leading scorer, was the only player in the country last year to average 20 points, five assists and five rebounds per game and will have plenty of NBA scouts watching him tonight along press row. Hmm. Sounds familiar.
2.) South Dakota State plays in the Summit League, which used to be known as the Mid-Continent Conference, which absorbed the non-Hofstra members of the East Coast Conference following the 1993-94 season. CONNECTIONS! Hofstra is 0-3 all-time against current Summit League schools, with a loss apiece against Western Illinois, Missouri-Kansas City and IUPUI, the latter of whom, of course, waxed Hofstra in the god-forsaken CBI in 2010 and started us down this path of Gazelle Group hell. Fortunately this weekend pays off our debt to the CBI and we’ll never have to speak of it again. Except when I want to bitch and moan about it.
3.) South Dakota was the last state to join the ranks of Division I athletics. You scoff now, but someday, this bit of information will win you bar trivia.
4.) Hofstra has won its last eight home openers since a 70-69 loss to Stony Brook in 2003. The Flying Dutchmen are 13-6 in home openers in the Defiantly Dutch Era (1993-94, #Ego) and are 29-12 in home openers dating back to the move to Division I in 1972-73.
5.) The Flying Dutchmen are trying to avoid their first 0-3 start since 2006-07, when they lost three road/neutral site games by a combined nine points. This is just the Dutchmen’s second 0-2 start in the DD Era (1993-94, 2002-03) and their 15th 0-2 start in school history. The first 14 times it happened, the Dutchmen went 7-7 in game no. 3.
6.) Taran Buie will finally make his Hofstra debut tonight, when he is expected to come off the bench and provide minutes at guard. Buie is playing his first collegiate game since Dec. 21, 2010, when he scored one point and collected two rebounds and two assists in Penn State’s 74-64 loss to Maine. Buie was suspended the first two games of this season due to a violation of team rules. FYI: Buie’s career highs at Penn State were 14 points, three assists and two steals. Hey we’re optimistic here that Buie will have a Nathaniel Lester-esque return to Division I basketball and that we’ll need this information tonight!
7.) As of this morning, Mo Cassara planned to start the same lineup he fielded (courted?) Sunday against Purdue: Stevie Mejia-Shaq Stokes-David Imes-Jimmy Hall-Moussa Kone. Expect also to see plenty of Kentrell Washington, who was impressive in practice this week, and don’t be surprised if Cassara puts Buie out there for plenty of playing time right away. Any chance the Dutchmen have at pulling off the upset relies on finding a spark from Washington and/or Buie, who can provide the shooting touch the Dutchmen guards have sorely lacked this season.