As a Hofstra alum (Class of 1994), I recall playing intramural sports with my fraternity, Kappa Sigma, in the same building that’s still located next door to The Mack –- the Physical Fitness Center.
That’s where Hofstra, prior to that first game opening a beautiful new 5,500-seat arena a decade ago, used to play it’s home games –- in a small gym with pull-out wooden bleachers, more befitting high school basketball (or in my case, intramural basketball and wiffle ball) than NCAA Division I basketball.
Going from that to the arena Hofstra has now, why not take the opportunity to celebrate such a nice building reaching a decade in age, especially when Hofstra brought an impressive 93-30 record (for a .756 winning percentage) into Saturday’s contest?
The unpublicized anniversary made me recall taking my father to that first game ever played at Hofstra Arena.
We enjoyed the building and the game so much, we went back for the next game, two nights later. Another game dominated by Claxton, another America East blowout win for Hofstra.
And, we continued coming to games, right up to the sold out America East title game which placed Hofstra in the NCAA tournament for the first time in 23 years.
The following year, I bought a pair of season tickets for my father I to sit in the front row, at the foul line, near the Hofstra student section. That was the first of six consecutive years I was a Hofstra season ticket holder until I was fortunate enough to begin covering Hofstra basketball with a media credential three years ago.
Of course, not everyone might be influenced in the same way, but who knows who else might be inspired to become a season ticket holder for years to come if potentially good marketing opportunities are never passed up.
It’s similar to the game itself. If you have a wide open jumper, take it. You don’t wait until later, waiting only for the perfect shot.
It becomes a lot more difficult to build a program history when you don’t make every effort to acknowledge or publicize one.
If nothing formal as there should have been, a simple announcement could have at least been made during a time out. That’s when the Hofstra public address announcer took the time to mention the birthdays of coincidentally, Hernandez, as well as a couple of random kids in attendance, yet inexplicably, no mention of a certain building turning ten on Saturday.
As for the game, Hofstra started very quickly, taking the largest lead of the day, scoring the first nine points in the opening 3:50, as junior forward Nathaniel Lester (game-highs of 14 points and 10 rebounds; 3-7 fg; 7-8 ft) scored the game’s first five points on a layup and a three-pointer.
Senior guard David Schneider (team-high 12 points; 4-11 fg; 2-5 3-pt. fg) hit a three and a jumper from the right wing though, to ignite a 7-1 Tribe run that cut Hofstra’s lead to 10-7, 4:45 into the game.
Hofstra answered with its own 11-6 run to lead 21-13, on a free throw by senior shooting guard Charles Jenkins (12 points; 5-13fg; game-high 6 assists) with 5:46 left in the first half, but the Pride, which had been shooting a solid 7-for-15 from the field, missed 14 of its final 15 shots in half, allowing William & Mary to close the half on an 8-2 run, and hang around in a low-scoring first half, as Hofstra took a 23-21 lead into the locker room.
The Pride started the second half with consecutive three-pointers by Jenkins and freshman point guard Chaz Williams (6 points, just 2-9 fg, and only 1 assist), to lead 29-21, with 17:51 left in the game.
Hofstra maintained that margin, at 35-27, with 14:31 left, but a technical foul on William & Mary head coach Tony Shaver seemed to spark the Tribe a little later.
Trailing 39-34, Shaver was called for the technical after arguing a non-foul call on a turnover by sophomore guard Quinn McDowell.
Lester made both technical free throws to push Hofstra’s lead to 41-34 with 10:34 left in the game. But, although William & Mary was one foul away from putting Hofstra in the bonus at that point, the Pride’s lack of aggressiveness down the stretch afforded Hofstra no further trips to the foul line, as the Pride scored only six points the rest of the way.
“Tony got a ‘T’ and they responded well to it,” Pecora said. “I thought they elevated their intensity and we didn’t match their intensity.”
As a result, the Tribe stormed back with the next seven points to tie the game, 41-41, with 7:27 left.
Pecora noted his team’s inability to put away a determined William & Mary team, which has road wins this year at Atlantic Coast conference foes Wake Forest and Maryland and a one-point home victory over two-time defending CAA regular season champion, Virginia Commonwealth.
“If it’s 8, you’ve gotta get it to 10, and you’ve gotta get it to 12, and we didn’t do that,” he said.
William & Mary then tied the game two more times, at 43-all, and at 45-apiece.