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This Hofstra team on paper is very talented and deep, but at the moment those adjectives might be challenged. Senior SG and CAA #2 leading scorer Rick Apodaca and PF/C Wendell Gibson have been suspended for the first 14 games each by the university. That is well over 20 points that have been unexpectedly lost.
Freshman 6'8" shooter Aurimas Kieza is also ineligible due to an NCAA violation; he played on a semi-pro team in his native Lithuania that had some players (not him) earn money. Add to that starting SF Danny Walker is out with an injured ankle, maybe for the season, and problems loom for the Pride. Four other players are banged up but will suit up for Gonzaga.
Despite all of that, the roster has some depth that could withstand some of the losses. Up front, 6'11" Lars Grubler, 6'9" Marc Petit, 6'8" 270 pound Omar Alson and 6'7" Osei Millar all have different games that Zag fans will see on the floor. 6'8" PF Kenny Adeleke is the reigning CAA "Rookie of the Year" and will be a 1st team All-CAA player for 2-3 years.
Mike Radziejewski is the ultimate gym rat at SG to fill in for Apodaca and had a super summer. SG Chris McCrae enters his sophomore year after an inconsistent freshman year. He was a top-100 recruit in his high school class. Add an explosive freshman Anthony Noble to the Small Forward spot, and Hofstra should be able to find points.
Running the show at PG, Woody Souffrant returns after starting most of last year as a freshman tossed to the wolves, but like Mike Radziejewski, had a great summer. Souffront could be the team's most improved player. He'll be backed up by freshman Gibran Washington, but it will be Woody out there against Winston Brooks and Blake Stepp for the majority of minutes.
It's anybody's guess as to who really steps up the production numbers this game and this season for Hofstra, so the Zags probably don't know how to prepare for this Hofstra team. Expect to see a lot of different lineups and matchups out there for the Zags vs Hofstra. A key for Hofstra will be to control the glass. They usually play solid defense that keeps them in most games, no matter how atrocious they're scoring was last year.
Speaking of last year, one of Hofstra's early season victims was none other than Kent State who, in March, advanced to the Elite Eight where they were eliminated by Indiana. So if anyone is overlooking the Hofstra Pride, it is a mistake.
Look for Gonzaga to force Hofstra to play the style and pace that the Zags prefer, mixing the uptempo fastbreaking tendencies with pounding ball in low and dominating the interior. Hofstra is a young team and the more seasoned Zags should exploit that, especially in the paint.