Joe Mihalich has brought Niagara personnel to Hofstra, but added a homegrown feel to his staff with addition of Speedy Claxton as special assistant to head coach. (Photo courtesy of Jerry Beach, better known as Defiantly Dutch)
Already seven weeks into his tenure as the head coach at Hofstra University, Joe Mihalich has made a profound impact in Hempstead, doubling the size of his roster by signing three incoming freshmen to join the four incumbents from the Mo Cassara era, and then luring Juan'ya Green and Ameen Tanksley from his former team at Niagara as transfers for the coming season. This morning, the winningest head coach in MAAC history took another step to shape his new situation at Hofstra by officially announcing his staff, which includes five familiar faces; four of which follow Mihalich from Niagara, and one more that fans of the Pride will remember as one of the greatest players in program history, one who brought the program to its first NCAA Tournament back when Hofstra was still known as the Flying Dutchmen, when Jay Wright was a 38-year-old upstart still a year away from a well-deserved pay raise at Villanova, with Tom Pecora still his right-hand man long before his own head coaching career took flight.
Mihalich's staff of deputies will be led by Mike Farrelly, Kyle Neptune and Shane Nichols, each of whom was an assistant coach at Niagara in recent years. Farrelly, a one-time student-athlete for Phil Martelli at Saint Joseph's, will begin his third year with Mihalich when Hofstra tips off their season in November. Neptune comes to Hempstead with Hofstra ties, as his tenure at Niagara was preceded by a stint under Jay Wright at Villanova, where he served as the Wildcats' video coordinator for two years before joining Mihalich in 2010. Nichols begins his second season with Mihalich after coming to Niagara last year on the heels of a two-year tenure as an assistant coach at his alma mater Wofford. Colin Curtin, who had been Niagara's director of basketball operations in each of the last four seasons, will reprise a similar role at Hofstra as he moves to Long Island with Mihalich. However, the biggest name on the staff is one who returns to the scene of some of his greatest accomplishments, that being Craig "Speedy" Claxton, whose No. 10 is one of five that hangs from the rafters of the Mack Sports Complex.
Claxton returns to his alma mater as the special assistant to the head coach, a role that Gene Keady fills to a similar capacity on Steve Lavin's staff at St. John's, and spent the last two seasons as a scout for the Golden State Warriors following a ten-year NBA playing career that saw his selection by the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round of the 2000 NBA Draft and NBA Championship as a member of the San Antonio Spurs in 2003 among the many highlights the former Christ the King product enjoyed at the highest level.
"I am thrilled about the staff we will have here at Hofstra," Mihalich said in a release issued by the university's athletic communications office. "Having worked with most of them at Niagara, there is a certain comfort level, and I know how skilled each of them is." Regarding Claxton, who joins the staff on July 1st, Mihalich called his arrival an "absolute home run. His extensive playing experience, combined with his ability to connect us to one of the greatest eras in Hofstra basketball history, will prove to be a winning formula as we grow the program moving forward."
Please continue to follow A Daly Dose Of Hoops for further news and updates on Hofstra University as Joe Mihalich prepares for his maiden voyage at the helm of the Pride.
***Information from a press release issued by Hofstra University associate director of athletic communications Stephen Gorchov helped contribute to this story***