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The winter athletic season puts the focus on the David S. Mack Sports and Exhibition Complex, as the three tenants of the arena – men’s basketball, women’s basketball and wrestling – are all in action.
The Hofstra men’s basketball team returns four starters and 10 letter winners, but must replace the top scorer in the history of the program as it opens play in the 2008-09 season. Hofstra had three straight 20-win seasons and postseason NIT appearances from 2005 to 2007, before seeing its streak of postseason bids end last year. This winter, Hofstra will be looking to re-establish its run of success that has seen the Pride average 19 wins over the last 10 years and return once again to postseason play.
Hofstra has the advantage of an experienced roster with six seniors as it begins the 2008-09 season. The Pride must replace its primary offensive cog in shooting guard Antoine Agudio, who graduated last year as the school’s all-time leading scorer (2,276 points). However, 2007-08 Colonial Athletic Association Rookie of the Year Charles Jenkins appears ready to accept the torch from Agudio as the latest in a long line of talented guards to come through the program. Jenkins averaged 15.0 points as a freshman last year, putting him on the same early scoring pace as Agudio, who averaged 15.1 points as a freshman in 2004-05. In fact, Jenkins has scored 436 points after 29 career games, the exact total that Agudio had at the same stage in his career.
The Pride will also rely on contributions from senior forward Darren Townes, who led the team in rebounding last season at 6.7 per game, and senior center Dane Johnson, who blocked a team-best 64 shots in 2007-08. Junior college transfers Tony Dennison, Cornelius Vines and Miklos Szabo also provide an influx of talent to the roster.
The women’s basketball team will look to reap the benefits of a young and talented roster entering the 2008-09 campaign. Hofstra returns five of its top six scorers from a year ago, as the Pride lost only four letter winners from the 2007-08 squad. After experiencing growing pains during a 5-25 season in 2007-08, third-year Head Coach Krista Kilburn-Steveskey has four starters returning with the benefit of an extra season of experience, including sophomore point guard Candice Bellocchio, who will look to quarterback the team’s offense this season, and junior guard Sam Brigham, who led the team in scoring at 10.4 points per game.
In addition to four returning starters, senior Jess Fuller, who was limited to just five games because of an injury, is back and gives the Pride a double-double threat at the center position. The Pride will also receive another youth infusion, with four newcomers (three freshmen and a transfer student) rounding out the roster.
The wrestling team has won seven consecutive Colonial Athletic Association Championships, though the quest for an eighth consecutive CAA crown will be difficult. The Pride lost two-time All-American Charles Griffin to graduation, as well as two four-time NCAA qualifiers in Dave Tomasette and Joe Rovelli.
The Pride does return senior All-American Alton Lucas, as well as national qualifiers Lou Ruggirello, Jonny Bonilla-Bowman and Ryan Patrovich. These four form a solid nucleus, and with several talented newcomers, the Pride will look to continue their dominance in the CAA.