Basketball Spotlight Finds Long Island

I’ve got a thought your football-shaped brain might struggle to absorb: Basketball season kicks off this week.

I know, I know. Didn’t the Knicks already begin their season of self flagellation in the quest for LeBron months ago? It seems eons longer when you add in the bizarro Stephon Marbury era and other memorable salary clearing moves. Darko Mili?i? anyone?

For you really hard core New Yorkers, the Nets sans Vince Carter are about as exciting as the New Jersey Turnpike at rush hour. And lest we forget, Syracuse already lost an exhibition game to Division II LeMoyne.

Truth is New York couldn’t be much further from a basketball state of mind. That changes this week when Long Island, hardly a hoops hotbed, becomes the center of attention in the basketball-loving world thanks to two big events.

The first might count as more horror show to this already frightful story. The Hofstra men’s basketball team opens its season on Friday, Nov. 13—that’s always a good omen—against Kansas, the nation’s top-ranked team.

Either way, the Pride can’t lose. This is the highest-ranked team Hofstra has ever faced, and the exposure the program receives can only help. The Pride, coming off a 21-11 season, feature junior guard Charles Jenkins, a natural scorer with a knack for getting to the basket.

This one can’t end badly. A moment in the spotlight, even if it is to play the foil, is an opportunity nonetheless. The game is at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kansas at 8 p.m. It will air on the ESPN Full Court package on DirecTV. Or you can listen live at

The media glare falls on another Long Islander this week: Half Hollow Hills West hoops sensation Tobias Harris. The 6-8 forward shot up the prep charts in the year since winning a state Class A Federation title at Long Island Lutheran. Harris, of Dix Hills, is considered one of the nation’s top five recruits.

And his journey from unknown scorer as a freshman at Hills to nationally-recognized recruit culminates this week when he signs with a college. The week-long NCAA early signing period begins Wednesday, Nov. 11. The top high school prospects commit amid a frenzy of interest.

Harris has made whirlwind stops at West Virginia, Kentucky, Louisville, Tennessee and Syracuse in the last month. Georgia Tech and Maryland are also on his short list.

But don’t look to Newsday—or even—for coverage of the Harris announcement. In the age of instant self-reporting, Harris has Tweeted his every move. You can follow the Harris saga at

jason molinet

Jason Molinet spent three years at as regional editor and was a reporter at Newsday for a decade. He is a four-time Press Club of Long Island award winner. Molinet celebrates his Cuban heritage, reads Ernest Hemingway and roots for the Miami Heat.