Vol. 19, No. 1, Spring 2006
THE WINNERS CIRCLE
Coach Pecora Leads Pride to School
Record-Tying 26-Win Season
The Hofstra Men's Basketball team had one of its most memorable seasons in school history this past winter, and the Pride's success resulted in significant national media attention for the program and for the University.
Loren Stokes earned first team All-CAA honors in leading the Pride to the postseason NIT quarterfinals.
The team's regular season record, its postseason NIT play and even not being chosen to participate in the NCAA tournament - combined with George Mason's run to the Final Four - garnered national TV, radio, print and online coverage. "Our second most important job as coaches, behind ensuring the education of our players, is getting our university's name in the public eye," said Head Coach Tom Pecora. "We were fortunate this season to be able to get Hofstra's name out there as much as we did. It was a very successful season for this program, and we hope to keep building on that success in the future."
Alan Kelly, Hofstra's vice president for development, said the team's success is good for fund raising. "It gets people back in touch with Hofstra, and it can encourage them to give," he said. "The success of any of the athletic teams promotes the University and gives everyone a sense of pride in their alma mater and encourages them to get involved."
On the court, Hofstra tied a school record for wins in a season with 26, reached the championship game of the Colonial Athletic Association tournament and earned a bid to the postseason National Invitation Tournament (NIT). The Pride defeated the University of Nebraska at Hofstra Arena for its first Division I postseason win, and then defeated Saint Joseph's in overtime to reach the NIT quarterfinals.
Hofstra also won 21 straight home games, the second-longest home winning streak in the nation, before seeing the streak and the season end in a close loss to CAA rival Old Dominion in the NIT quarterfinals.
Hofstra topped 5,000 fans in its final two home games, including a sellout in the Old Dominion NIT quarterfinal contest. The student section was typically overflowing with boisterous fans, and busloads of Hofstra supporters made the trip to Richmond, Virginia, for the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament and to Saint Joseph's for the Pride's NIT second round game.
The team was in the spotlight of local and national media in the week leading up to "Selection Sunday" on CBS. Several television crews, including ESPN's Cold Pizza, College Sports Television, WCBS, WNBC, Fox5, and SportsNet New York, joined the team and coaches during the selection show.
The Pride, which defeated George Mason twice in a 10-day span in late February and early March, also drew the attention of the national media when George Mason reached the Final Four. Head Coach Tom Pecora appeared on CBS, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPNews in the week building up to the Final Four to discuss his team's success against George Mason. The team was also profiled on national Web sites, including Sports Illustrated, ESPN The Update, CBS Sportsline, Fox Sports and The Sporting News. Locally, the Pride appeared on the back cover of Newsday three times.
Athletic Director Jack Hayes said all that publicity was great for Hofstra. "I think the success of any athletic program is going to reflect positively on an institution and generate interest from people who may or may not be associated with Hofstra," he said.
Pride Make First Division I Postseason Appearance
The Hofstra Women's Basketball team finished the 2005-06 season with a 19-12 record, which is the second highest win total in the program's Division I history. The team was selected to play in the Women's National Invitation Tournament (WNIT), marking the first time that the Pride has qualified for a postseason tournament since becoming a Division I program in 1982-83. Hofstra hosted Stony Brook in the opening round of the WNIT and defeated the Seawolves, 92-65. The team then traveled to Villanova for a first round WNIT meeting with the Wildcats and fell, 71-46. Despite the loss, the future is bright for the Pride as they lose just one senior and return four of the top five scorers from this year, including All-CAA performers Vanessa Gidden and Cigi McCollin.
Pride Place 11th at NCAA Championships;
Three Wrestlers Earn All-America Honors
Hofstra's All-Americans, Mike Patrovich, Jon Masa and Chris Weidman, placed fourth, fifth and sixth, respectively, to lead the Pride to an 11th-place finish at the 2006 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships at the Ford Center in Oklahoma City, OK. The Pride equaled the best finish in school history, tying the 11th place finish of the 1969 team. Hofstra finished with a school-record 52.5 points, eclipsing the previous mark of 36.5 set in 2005, and were just one point from being in a three-way tie for ninth place with Lehigh and Penn State. The three All-Americans are also a school-record, topping the previous mark of two that was set in 2000, 2001 and 2003. In addition, Masa became Hofstra's first three-time All-American.
Patrovich earned his first All-America honor by advancing to the championship semifinals before losing to eventual national champion Ben Askren from Missouri. Weidman may have been the biggest surprise of the NCAA Championships, defeating top-seeded Wynn Michelak from Central Michigan and eighthseeded Ryan Bader from Arizona State in the championship bracket before losing to eventual national champion Jake Rosholt from Oklahoma State in the semifinals.