Hofstra University officially announced that Joe Mihalich will transition from being head coach of the men’s basketball program to being special advisor to the athletic director.
Mihalich didn’t coach the Hofstra Pride in 2020-21 because his health wouldn’t allow it. So the final memory we have as Joe Mihalich as a coach is a great one: cutting down the netting at the Entertainment and Sports Arena in Washington D.C. on March 10, 2020, after the Pride defeated Northeastern, 70-61, in the championship game of the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament.
Knowing what we know now, it was a storybook ending to Mihalich’s seven seasons in Hempstead, which began with a major rebuild, going 10-23 in year one (2013-14) and culminated with back-to-back records of 27-8 and 26-8 in his final two seasons. The 2018-19 season ended with a gut punch, losing 82-74 to Northeastern in the CAA Tournament Championship game.
In what ended up being Mihalich’s last game, Hofstra got their revenge last March. Hofstra would be going to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2001 and it would be Mihalich’s first appearance since 2007, when he took Niagara for the second time in three years.
Of course, life can be cruel sometimes. Two days after Mihalich cut down the net in D.C., sports in this country shut down. The NCAA Tournament was canceled. Hofstra wouldn’t get to dance in the Dance.
It was an awful moment.
But it also allowed for something that doesn’t happen often: Almost no one, except the winners of the NCAA Tournament, NIT, CBI and CIT ends their season on a win. The 2019-20 Hofstra Pride won their last game of the season and the record book will reflect that for the rest of time.
And Joe Mihalich went out a winner, also.
Mihalich managed to craft that rarest parlay among basketball lifers: a coach who won, a lot, never forgot where he came from, never forgot how to be a regular guy, and never forgot the thrill and opportunity of getting to coach a great game for a living.
Make no mistake about it, Joe Mihalich is a great coach. At Niagara, he had taken over a once proud program that had fallen on hard times, going 17-12 in year one, 265-203 overall at Niagara, four regular season MAAC Titles, two NCAA Tournament bids. He did the same thing at Hofstra, 141-92 in those seven years and three CAA regular season titles.
Mihalich ends his 22-year head coaching career with a 406-295 record.