Larry Brown champions SMU team

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- During a return visit to New York on Saturday, SMU coach Larry Brown -- born in Brooklyn, raised on Long Island -- predicted big success for his new team in the years ahead.

"They better get us this year," said Brown, "because we're gonna be pretty good pretty quickly."

SMU routed Hofstra 73-47 on Saturday afternoon. But Brown's homecoming was overshadowed by the scandal involving the Hofstra program. Four players, including two starters, were arrested earlier this week on burglary charges, and suspended from the team and the university.

"You can't lose four quality players in one day and expect to have success," Brown said. "I told (Hofstra coach) Mo (Cassara) before the game I felt real bad about it."

But Brown feels good about being at SMU. The 72-year-old Hall of Famer -- the only coach in history to win both an NCAA championship and an NBA title -- took over the program back in April, after Matt Doherty was relieved of his duties. It's Brown's first coaching job since being fired by the Charlotte Bobcats in December 2010, and his first college job since coaching Kansas in the mid-1980's.

"It's been great," Brown said. "Matt Doherty left me some really high-character kids that want to be coached. It's a great school. I love being involved in basketball in any capacity. At my age, for somebody to take a chance with me, it's pretty incredible."

SMU, which will join the Big East next season, hasn't been to the NCAA tournament since 1993, and hasn't won an NCAA tournament game since 1988 -- the year Brown won a national championship at Kansas.

The Mustangs finished 13-19 a season ago, 4-12 in Conference USA. But they're off to an 8-1 start this year, with a starting lineup featuring three sophomores and two juniors.