Down two starters and two significant role players, the Hofstra Pride dressed and played only nine players on Saturday night in a 73-47 losing effort to the Southern Methodist Mustangs. Without Shaquille Stokes, Jimmy Hall, Kentrell Washington and Dallas Anglin, who are suspended and currently being further investigated for burglary charges, Stevie Mejia and Taran Buie led a team without much firepower on offense.
But the real story here took place after the game.
Mo Cassara is a young, up and coming coach in college basketball. He recruits well, shows great passion on the sidelines and really fosters connections with his players. Earlier this offseason, he was forced to evacuate his Point Lookout, NY home to escape Superstorm Sandy, leaving him to eat, sleep and breath in his office and Hofstra basketball facilities. Now he’s dealing with four young players, all under the age of twenty-one, who could realistically be suspended for the entire remainder of the season. And, that might not even be the worst of their troubles considering the legal implications that may follow.
With all that in Cassara’s mind Saturday evening, he could only really stand on the sidelines and observe his team get shellacked by SMU.
Following the contest, Cassara had to immediately shift his thoughts to avoiding saying too much about the legal case at hand and the future of his suspended players. Enter Larry Brown.
Many people know Brown as the Hall of Fame coach who won a title in both the NCAA and NBA and can be a little stubborn, hotheaded and arrogant. Following his team’s victory over Hofstra, Brown was caring, thoughtful and empathetic during the two coaches’ postgame interactions.
“He gave me a couple of real positive words: Keep working,” Cassara said. “He said he was sorry for what we’re going through. He was wonderful.”
Brown has definitely seen his fair share of adversity while coaching, spending time at the helm of nine different NBA squads and many nationally acclaimed college programs.
“We all have made a lot of mistakes and you don’t realize the impact of yourself and those around you” the Hall of Famer said. “You can’t lose four quality players in one day and expect to have success. … Hopefully this can be resolved and they can get on with their lives.”
With a little advice from a big personality, maybe the road will start to get a little easier for Cassara.
Jake Fischer is the CAA Correspondent for Rant Sports-NCAA Basketball. Make sure to follow Jake on Twitter @fischsportsline.