Team preview: Hofstra

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(Information in this team report is as of October 1.)

For the fifth consecutive season, Hofstra improved its record in the CAA, finishing third in the conference and winning 26 games. The Pride also finished with the highest year-end RPI rating in school history.

It was a bittersweet ending, however, as Hofstra was one of the last teams left out of the NCAA Tournament. Despite defeating George Mason twice in the two weeks before Selection Sunday, Hofstra watched helplessly as the eventual surprise Final Four Patriots were asked to the dance. Hofstra had more wins than any school left out of the field, and had the second best RPI ever for a school not selected.

Still, the latest step forward for the Hempstead, N.Y. program included a trip to the NIT quarterfinals, where the Pride lost to conference foe Old Dominion. The loss to the Monarchs broke Hofstra's 21-game home-court winning streak.

Head coach Tom Pecora faces possibly the toughest challenge of his young career. Hofstra enters the season with lofty expectations -- because of its continued success and much-discussed snub from the NCAA Tournament, the Pride is regarded as the team to beat in the CAA in 2006-07.

The always-affable Pecora knows that while his team is as talented as any in the conference, it will take more than skill to win this tough league.

"So much is mental," Pecora said. "I like to have other people come in and talk to my guys so they are not always hearing my voice. It's important for them to hear different voices. I also love to watch other teams practice, and not just basketball."