The Hofstra men’s basketball team is poised for another high finish in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) and hopes it can carry over regular season success into the postseason.
The Pride won eight of nine games last year to end the CAA schedule, but was quickly bounced in the quarterfinal round of the conference tournament by College of Charleston as the third seed.
“The goal is always to win a championship,” said head coach and former Pride star Speedy Claxton, who guided Hofstra to a conference title and NCAA Tournament as a star point guard in 2000. “We put together a tough non-conference schedule to prepare us for the physical teams we will face in conference play.”
Hofstra returned redshirt senior guard Aaron Estrada, the reigning CAA Player of the Year who Claxton says has a potential to become an NBA player. Estrada, who transferred to Hofstra from Oregon last year, scored 33 points in the Pride’s 85-80 home win against George Washington on Nov. 14.
“He is our hardest worker,” Claxton said of Estrada. “He is our best player for a reason because he is always in the gym working on his game.”
Pride women off to promising start
The Hofstra women’s basketball team is making strides early on in the new season after an 8-20 record in the 2021-22 campaign.
The Pride already achieved half of last year’s win total with a 56-53 home win against Army West Point on Dec. 7 that put the team at 4-4. It nearly got win number five last Saturday, but dropped a 62-61 overtime heartbreaker at Loyola (Md).
“I’m excited for what this season is going to hold,” said fourth-year head coach Danielle Santos Atkinson. “I truly believe we have a team that wants it and they’re willing to work for it.”
Hofstra returned six from last year’s team that reached the CAA quarterfinals including All-CAA Defensive team selection Rosi Nicholson, who also displayed her offensive ability with 16 points in a season-opening 73-68 loss to Big Ten foe Rutgers. Senior Sorelle Ineza is also back after starting 11 games as a junior.
Baldwin native Brandy Thomas, a graduate student who transferred from nearby Long Island University (LIU), has become the team’s leading scorer early on averaging 13.3 points per game including 22 in a 76-68 loss at Wagner on Nov. 26.
“She’s very competitive and pushes everyone else to be competitive as well,” said Santos Atkinson of Thomas,
Junior 6-3 center Zyheima Swint is the third leading scorer early in the season and gives the Pride a strong inside presence to complement its perimeter game.
The Pride’s roster features seven newcomers including Zaniyyah Ross-Barnes, a Stony Brook transfer who is the team’s fourth leading scorer. Junior guard Ally Knights, an Australia native who transferred from North Florida, is a key rebounder and defender also capable of hitting big jump shots.
New additions to the team this season also includes freshman Emma Von Essen of Rockville Centre, who shined as a four-year member at Long Island Lutheran. Von Essen is quickly gaining minutes and got her first start in a 74-71 victory against LIU on Dec. 3 in a game where she netted season-high 17 points.
Hofstra was picked to finish last in the 13-team CAA and will look to prove the doubters wrong starting with its league opener at Delaware on Dec. 30. The Pride’s CAA home opener is scheduled for New Year’s Day against Stony Brook at 2 p.m.