Hofstra coach Joe Mihalich has always enjoyed his visits to the Lowcountry.
The food, the weather and hospitality of Charleston has made Mihalich a big fan of the area. The only issue for Mihalich and the Pride, at least the last two years, has been getting from Long Island, N.Y., to Charleston for the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament.
Hofstra, which won its first CAA regular-season title in school history this season, is the No. 1 seed heading into this weekend’s CAA Tournament. The Pride (25-6, 15-3) are the favorites to win the tournament, which opens Saturday night at the North Charleston Coliseum, and claim the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
College of Charleston, the No. 3 seed in the tournament, will face sixth-seeded Drexel Sunday night at 8:30 p.m. in the quarterfinals. The championship game is set for 7 p.m. Tuesday night.
Two years ago, Hofstra’s flight from New York to Charleston was cancelled because of weather, forcing the team to fly into Raleigh, N.C.; practice at North Carolina State, and then take a five-hour bus ride to the Lowcountry.
Last year the Pride spent 14 hours on a train to get to the tournament.
“Hopefully, there’s not an earthquake or a tidal wave this weekend,” Mihalich joked. “We keep looking at the weather forecast just to make sure.”
This is the third and final year the CAA Tournament will be held at the North Charleston Coliseum. The tournament will move to Washington, D.C., in 2020 for a three-year stint. The Cougars (23-8, 12-6) have made the tournament championship game the past two seasons. Charleston rallied from a 17-point second half deficit to beat Northeastern, 83-76, in overtime to win the title last year.
“We feed off the crowd and their energy,” said Cougars senior forward Jarrell Brantley. “I’m not sure we would have won last year without them. They’ve been showing up this year and we’ll need them again in the tournament.”
College of Charleston coach Earl Grant said he hasn't said much about last year’s run through the CAA Tournament during practice this week.
“It’s over, we don’t talk about last year because this is a brand new team,” Grant said. “We’re moving forward. It doesn’t really help to talk about what happened last year. It’s a different season. We treat it like it’s the first time we’ve played in the tournament.”
Riller, Brantley named All-CAA
Grant Riller and Brantley were named first-team All-CAA on Friday.
Brantley and Riller were joined on the first team by CAA Player of the Year Justin Wright-Foreman (Hofstra), Devontae Cacok (UNCW), Nathan Knight (William & Mary) and Vasa Pusica (Northeastern).
Mihalich earned coach of the year honors.