Hofstra CAA first round preview

March 6th, 2008

Winner gets top seed VCU on Saturday
By Raphielle Johnson

Coming off of a win over Drexel in the regular season finale, the Hofstra Pride will look to keep their season alive when they take on the Towson Tigers in the first round of the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament. The two teams, seeded eighth (Hofstra) and ninth (Towson) respectively, split the season series with the home team winning both games. The winner will take on regular season champion and defending tournament champion Virginia Commonwealth on Saturday afternoon. The Rams defeated the Pride twice and Towson once in their regular season meetings. Here’s a preview of tomorrow’s noon tip.

#8 Hofstra vs. #9 Towson (Noon EST, game can be seen online at caasports.com)

Category Hofstra Towson
Points per game 66.3 (6th) 65.5 (7th)
PPG allowed 68.8 (9th) 69.3 (10th)
Field goal % 43.8 (5th) 41.1 (10th)
FG % defense 41.4 (4th) 44.3 (9th)
3PT % 33.6 (7th) 33.1 (9th)
3PT % defense 33.1 (3rd) 36.9 (12th)
Rebound margin + 3.1 (3rd) - 4.2 (11th)
Turnover margin - 3.21 (11th) + 2.03 (t-1st)

Category Hofstra Towson
Points per game Antoine Agudio (22.5) Josh Thornton (12.8)
Rebounds per game Darren Townes (6.7) Junior Hairston (9.1)
Assists per game Greg Johnson (3.66) C.C. Williams (4.86)
FG percentage Charles Jenkins (47.0) Hairston (45.8)
3 PT percentage Agudio (40.7) Jonathan Pease (36.9)
Assist/Turnover ratio Johnson (1.31) Williams (2.20)

Regular season meetings: Towson 60-51 (January 30th at Towson) and Hofstra 81-67 (February 20th at Hofstra).

Results against VCU: Hofstra lost 59-49 (January 12th at VCU) and 82-65 (January 23rd at Hofstra). Towson lost 65-42 (February 2nd at VCU).

Towson also comes into this game looking to build on their regular season finale, an 89-74 win over Delaware on Saturday. Pat Kennedy goes about eight deep in his rotation, and that number would be nine if not for losing Rodney Spruill after the first ten games. The leading offensive threats are Josh Thornton, who leads the Tigers in scoring, and junior forward Junior Hairston. In Towson’s last outing, Thornton put up twenty-four points on 9-15 shooting.

Hairston also leads the team in rebounds, which is a good thing since the only other forward in the rotation is classmate Tony Durant. And yes, he is Kevin’s brother. A guard-heavy lineup, Towson also receives contributions from Jonathan Pease (9.4 ppg), C.C. Williams (leading the conference in assist-to-turnover ratio) and Rocky Coleman (6.0 ppg, 2.1 rpg). Guards Tim Crossin and Vernon Carr round out the rotation for Coach Kennedy.

The issue throughout the season for the Tigers has been rebounding, for they are the second-worst in the CAA in regards to rebound margin. If you’re one of the better shooting teams in the conference then maybe you can get away with that. But when you’re in the bottom half of the league in all major offensive categories, you’re in trouble.

Hofstra, on the other hand, is one of the conference’s better teams in regards to rebound margin and they do it by committee. Darren Townes leads the team in rebounds per game, but the Pride have six players averaging at least three rebounds per game. In regards to who will score, there’s no question that the primary option is Antoine Agudio. The senior guard from Huntington Station, NY led the conference in scoring, and was also one of the CAA’s best in terms of three-point percentage.

For as explosive as Agudio can be, Hofstra’s fortunes began to improve once CAA Rookie of the Year Charles Jenkins became more comfortable in his role. Jenkins is the only other Hofstra player averaging double figures in scoring, and he’s also the team’s third-leading rebounder. The rotation for Tom Pecora is dominated by newcomers, with guys such as Townes, Nathaniel Lester and Dane Johnson also called upon to contribute. And despite only playing around thirteen minutes per game, forward/ center Greg Washington is the team’s assist leader.

While the Pride have done a good job of limiting opponents’ field goal percentage throughout the season, turnovers have done them in on many occasions. Their turnover margin of - 3.21 is eleventh in the conference, and they’re going up against a Towson squad that tied for the conference lead in that category. Whoever wins this game and moves on to face VCU will most likely do so for two reasons: they control the backboards and they win the turnover battle.

Statistical Summary of VCU

Category Virginia Commonwealth
Points per game 67.9 (4th)
PPG allowed 58.6 (1st)
Field goal % 43.8 (4th)
FG % defense 37.9 (1st)
3 PT % 37.9 (1st)
3 PT % defense 26.6 (1st)
Rebound margin + 2.2 (5th)
Turnover margin + 2.03 (t-1st)

Category Virginia Commonwealth
Points per game Eric Maynor (17.8)
Rebounds per game Michael Anderson (4.9)
Assists per game Maynor (5.31)
FG percentage Maynor (46.3)
3 PT percentage Jamal Shuler (41.2)
Assist/Turnover ratio Maynor (1.79)