Coming off an upset loss at home to George Mason, No. 20 Maryland has less than 48 hours to regroup as it faces another challenge from a dangerous small-conference foe.
Hofstra (1-2), of the Colonial Athletic Association, will visit Maryland (3-1) of the Big Ten on Friday evening in College Park, Md.
While the Pride’s record is unimpressive, their performance in an 82-74 loss Tuesday at Iona was enough to convince winning coach Rick Pitino to declare big things were ahead for Hofstra.
“I’ll be shocked if they don’t win 22-23 games,” Pitino said.
In his first year as a head coach, former NBA guard Speedy Claxton has assembled a talented group of players at Hofstra, his alma mater. Now his job is to get them in sync.
Joining last season’s top scorer, Jalen Ray, in the starting lineup are four transfers from Division I schools. The gem of the transfer class is Zach Cooks (22 points per game in 2020-21), a grad student who scored 1,788 points in four seasons at NJIT.
In a 73-63 win at Duquesne last Saturday, Cooks scored 29 points as he hit 5 of 10 shots from beyond the arc and added seven rebounds.
“He is a tough man,” Claxton said. “He’s not scared of the moment.”
After missing Hofstra’s first two games with an ankle injury, Ray hit 6 of 8 shots from beyond the arc Tuesday at Iona and finished with 20 points. He averaged 19.3 points per game last season as Hofstra went 13-10 after winning 53 games combined the previous two seasons.
The other starters are Oregon transfer Aaron Estrada (13.3 ppg), Iowa State transfer Darlinstone Dubar (12.3 ppg, 6.3 rpg) and Abayomi Iyiola (8 ppg, 9.3 rpg), a transfer from Arkansas.
In Maryland’s 71-66 wakeup call on Wednesday night, the Terps allowed the Patriots (4-0) to hit 12 of 24 shots from beyond the arc.
“Our offense isn’t good enough. We hold the ball. We dribble the ball,” Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said. “We haven’t played to our ranking yet.”
The Terps will count on their backcourt of Eric Ayala (15.8 ppg) and Rhode Island transfer Fatts Russell (12.8 ppg). Maryland should have an edge inside with 6-foot-11 Qudus Wahab (12.3 ppg, 8.5 rpg).
One positive for Maryland against George Mason was the play of Donta Scott, who scored 18 points and pulled down 10 rebounds. Scott also made 3 of 5 shots from 3-point territory. But he didn’t get a lot of help.
“We have to be great on defense until we learn how to move the ball a little bit better,” Turgeon said. “We’ve got a long way to go.”
–Field Level Media