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Hofstra enduring season of arrests, injury, suspensions

first_img Published on February 12, 2013 at 12:55 am Contact Phil: [email protected] | @PhilDAbb Shocked. Surprised. Disappointed. Those were the emotions Mo Cassara felt when four of his players were arrested in late November. “Certainly it’s nothing that anybody ever expects or knows exactly how to handle,” Cassara said. “But we’ve tried to move forward as best we can.”In Cassara’s third season as Hofstra’s head coach, he and the Pride (6-18, 3-8 Colonial Athletic Association) are enduring a season full of hardship and adversity. On Nov. 30, four Hofstra players were arrested, charged with burglary and suspended from the university. The Pride also expected Connecticut transfer Jamal Coombs-McDaniel to be one of the conference’s premier players, but knee injuries and surgeries have sidelined him for the entire year. Sophomore guard Shaquille Stokes and freshmen Jimmy Hall, Kentrell Washington and Dallas Anglin were each charged with at least one count of second degree burglary. Anglin was also charged with one count of tampering with evidence. The investigation is ongoing. AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe charges stemmed from six alleged burglaries from Oct. 4 to Nov. 5, in which the suspects stole laptop computers, cell phones and cash from Hofstra dormitories. Some of the items were reportedly sold online, but an estimated $10,000 of items was recovered after the players were arrested. The four, who were all on athletic scholarships, were suspended from the team, classes, residence halls and facilities. “You know, people on the outside certainly want to assume that the kids that got in trouble were bad kids. They weren’t. They made some bad decisions. And why that is, I certainly can’t speak to that,” Cassara said, pointing out that the players each went through Hofstra’s admission and screening processes while being recruited. In Cassara’s first season two years ago, the Pride won 21 games, but regressed last year and finished 10-22, just 3-15 in the conference. The preseason expectation was that this season couldn’t be much worse than last season, senior guard Matt Grogan said, but at the start of the year, players knew they’d have to work hard to improve. The Pride lost two games on the road to start the season, then pulled off three consecutive wins at home, including a double-overtime, three-point victory over Marshall in which Stokes and Hall combined to scored 42 points. Perhaps the turnaround was underway.“It was great for our young guys, great for their confidence,” Grogan said. “And I thought we were just going to feed off of those three wins and keep improving.”In addition to Stokes and Hall’s abilities to score, Hall also grabbed 9.4 rebounds per contest, while Anglin and Washington were each averaging more than 14 minutes of playing time. But all of that was lost when the Nassau County police made their arrests and the Hofstra roster was left with nine scholarship players. Cassara was forced to add walk-ons to the team, one of whom – Adam Savion – played 24 minutes in a tightly contested matchup with Northeastern, the No. 1 team in the CAA, on Wednesday. The arrests, coupled with Coombs-McDaniel’s absence, severely disrupted the Pride’s rotation. “It really did,” Cassara said. “If you took five guys off Syracuse or five guys off Niagara, five guys off any team in the country, you’re going to struggle. Because not only do you have to move guys into different roles, but you also lose your depth. We got to play five guys out of position.”The situation is especially difficult, Cassara said, because he had to balance between resting the Pride’s limited bodies and working them hard in practice. Although Hofstra’s record may not depict it, the Pride has been competitive in most of its games, Cassara said. But the team needs to execute more efficiently down the stretch and play a full 40-minute game. Senior forward David Imes stressed the importance of trusting teammates and sacrificing. After the five regular season games remaining on the schedule, Hofstra’s looking forward to the CAA tournament, where it’s “anybody’s conference,” Grogan said. Postseason success would be a tremendous lift for a Hofstra program that’s been through so much this season: arrests, suspensions and injuries, plus Hurricane Sandy and the hysteria of hosting a presidential debate in October. “Just a variety of things have come up over the course of this year. It’s been really, really challenging,” Cassara said. “But I think you also coach your best at times and environments like this.”But to fully advance the Pride from the events of this year and give his team a fresh look next season, Cassara is tasked with filling his roster with talent while creating a new culture in Hofstra’s locker room.“We’re going to continue to find good, high-character student-athletes,” Cassara said. “We’re going to bring in a big class now and really change the shape and the face of this program with a young, energetic, great character group of guys. “That’s certainly my job and my mission now.” Comments Related Stories Injured Penn State guard Frazier leads from sidelinesPair of transfers provides scoring punch for California State Fullertoncenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img


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