After posting some pedestrian numbers in their season opener against Columbia last week, Stony Brook was hoping to flex a bit more offensive muscle on the road against a very good SEC team that won 20 games last season.
On the scoreboard at least, they succeeded. The Seawolves kept pace with the Bulldogs through most of the first half, heading into the locker room down 48-41. But the second half was rough for the Seawolves, allowing Georgia to rattle off a 16-2 run to open up a 20-point lead. The Seawolves did manage to make a late run to pull back within 10 by the final buzzer, proving to themselves that they can at least compete against major programs.
On paper though, the game was a mess for Stony Brook. Despite the point total, the Seaowlves shot just 31.8 percent from the floor, an abysmally low number. What they lacked in efficiency they made up for in frequency: they took 66 shots on the night, nearly 20 more than Georgia did. Both finished the game with 21 made attempts.
That Stony Brook kept afloat at all was owed entirely to the efforts of Carson Puriefoy. The junior guard went gangbusters in the first 20, shooting 8 of 11 in the first frame for 21 points. (Reminder: Stony Brook scored 41 total in the half).
Georgia adjusted in the locker room and Puriefoy cooled off, missing his only four attempts in the second and adding just 5 more points, all from the line. Still, his 26-point performance set a new career high and he ended the day as the second-leading scorer in all of Division I during ESPN’s 29-hour college hoops marathon.
Puriefoy’s reputation as a big-stage player was solidified as well. Last season, he paced Stony Brook on the road at Indiana with 22.
The score differential on Tuesday was almost entirely thanks to Stony Brook’s barrage of fouls. They sent Georgia to the line 48 times on the night after Bryan Sekunda, Kam Mitchell and Puriefoy all fouled out. In all, the Seawolves committed 30 fouls, and Georgia capitalized with 33 points from the stripe to the Seawolves’ 20.
Jameel Warney led all players with 14 rebounds and ended the night with his second double-double in as many games after netting 12 points on just 4 of 15 shooting, his second game with an un-Warney like FG percentage well below his career average of better than 61 percent.
The Seawolves will be back in action and looking to move back into the W column on Friday as they renew their rivalry with Hofstra for the first time in five years. Game time is scheduled for 7pm at The Mack in Hempstead.
The oddsmakers have the Seawolves as a 12.5 point underdog on the road at Georgia tonight.
That’s amongst the more lopsided Division I lines of the day, which strikes me as a bit unkind. Stony Brook certainly didn’t look great in their opener and the program isn’t exactly a powerhouse, but the odds weren’t even this bad last year against Indiana, a team that came in 3-0 last year.
Of course, those Indiana lines ended up being more than fair as Stony Brook would go on to lose by 16. Georgia’s coming off a close 80-74 loss to in-state rival Georgia Tech while the Seawolves…well, you remember.
Tipoff is set for 7pm in Athens. You can catch the game on the SEC Network.
We’ve got a new blog we’re maintaining on Kinja, the same platform that powers Deadspin (which is a must-read by the way). You should check it out. It’s not replacing this site, but we figured there are a lot of Deadspin/Gawker readers out there who might enjoy seeing some of our stuff as well.
There you’ll find a quick story today about how UConn is trying to get in on that sweet New York action by pretending to be New York’s College Team. It’s patently absurd, and writing about it put me in the unenviable position of having to partially defend Syracuse, which as anyone knows is not something I enjoy doing.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before:
Stony Brook’s offense is finally heating up late in the second half of the season, too late to make a playoff push but just in time to play spoiler in the last few weekends of the regular season.
2014 is shaping up to look a lot like 2013, as the Seawolves offense turned in another solid offensive performance against a struggling Rhode Island team that is still looking for its first win of the season.
It’s their fourth straight game of scoring at least 20 points after doing it just twice in their first seven. Stacey Bedell accounted for two of Stony Brook’s 5 touchdowns on runs of 75 and 56 yards respectively, finishing with a career-high 195 yards and needing just six more to pass the 1,000 yard mark for the season. Bednarski attempted just 17 passes on the day, completing 9 of them for 89 yards.
The grand unveiling of Stony Brook’s brand-new $21 million arena had all the trappings of big-time college basketball: loud music, a sell-out crowd, and high expectations.
But it was the Seawolves players who provided the night’s most memorable moment.
With 12 seconds left on the clock and trailing by one, reigning conference player of the year Jameel Warney stood at the free throw line with a shot to tie or take the lead for the first time since Stony Brook led 3-0 in the opening minutes of the game. But Warney missed both shots, only to grab his own rebound, muscle the ball towards the rim, and have the ball eventually land in the hands of Rayshaun McGrew, who floated it off the glass and in for a 57-56 lead. Columbia’s last-ditch effort from outside the arc fell harmlessly as the buzzer sounded and the crowd of 4,000+ roared.
It was a year of heartbreak for Stony Brook last season. Baseball, softball and men’s lacrosse all came up painfully short in their respective conference tournaments. But the way the men’s basketball team’s 2013-14 campaign ended probably stings the most.
The doors of Pritchard closed for good in March, but not before a final image of the gymnasium being engulfed in a sea of purple and gold as Albany fans stormed the floor when the Great Danes upset the Seawolves to win the America East Championship. With hopes of the NCAA Tournament dashed yet again, the team never found its motivation for their first-round game in the College Basketball Invitational and lost to Siena.
Another great senior class – Anthony Jackson, Dave Coley, Eric McAlister and Anthony Mayo, who all blossomed into great players after coming in as raw freshmen – left without making it to the big dance. But when head coach Steve Pikiell reflects on his emotions when the season came to a close, he doesn’t remember feeling disappointed at all.
“Proud,” is what Pikiell said he remembers feeling. “Proud of our team getting back to the finals, getting another postseason bid, all those guys graduating. Mayo is in grad-school, Dave is in Slovakia putting up huge numbers, Eric had 16 rebounds in his last game in Denmark, and A.J. was the first in his family to graduate college. Proud.”
After a pause though, he adds “tough ending to the year; you have to win every game, I got that, I’ve been through this long enough. Everyone judges you by one game, but we’ve been able to do a lot of great stuff here and we continue to do that. I refuse to have my program judged by one game on one day, we’ve been a proud program for a long time and we’re gonna continue to be that. Our goals have never changed: graduate kids, which we do better than anybody, guys keep playing (past college), and we compete for league championships.”
The one thing Pikiell reiterated throughout the post-game press conference after that devastating loss to Albany was “we’ll be back.” Confidence has never been an issue with the ever-positive coach, and even with no seniors and five newcomers on this year’s team, his faith hasn’t wavered.
“No matter who we’ve graduated in the last five years, players of the year or defensive players of the year, we’ve still competed for league titles,” he said. “We expect to do that, that’s our goal every year.”
This year’s team benefits from having arguably the best returning player in the conference, reigning America East Player of the Year Jameel Warney. He will step into more of a leadership role in his third year with the team, and will be joined by junior point guard Carson Puriefoy III. Last month, they were the only pair of teammates selected to the preseason all-conference team. Warney said last year’s “heartbreaking” end to the season was just added motivation to never experience that feeling again.
“It brought more energy to this year, us being more humble,” he said. “We lost four great leaders, so it’s time for new people to step up. It was a terrible feeling and we don’t want feel that feeling anymore, so we’re working extra hard every day to get back to that spot and have a different result.”
After losing a total of four starters – swingman Ahmad Walker transferred in the off-season in addition to Coley, Jackson and McAlister graduating – there are going to be a lot of new players seeing significant minutes for the first time. But Pikiell looks no further than his two best players for who will have to take their games to the next level.
“The two guys who need to have breakout years for us, quite honestly, are Tre and Jameel,” he said. “They need to truly, every night, play like great players, and I really think the rest of the guys will fill in nicely.”
Despite the relative inexperience of this year’s team, Stony Brook was picked to finish first in the America East in the preseason coaches’ poll for the first time in program history. After the successes of recent years, expectations have grown to the point where any season without qualifying for the NCAA Tournament is considered a failure. It might be unfair to put that pressure on a team with five freshmen, but Pikiell doesn’t see the need to temper expectations at all.
“People put those expectations on us no matter what, so it doesn’t matter if it’s fair or not. We’re gonna try to [make it to the championship game] every year,” he said. “I know how young we are so I know what obstacles we’re gonna face, and we’re playing our hardest schedule in school history. It doesn’t get any easier, as years go by, expectations keep going up. Only one team’s going to the tournament, the odds don’t increase or change, so we’re gonna try our hardest again to be that one team.”
First came the sneak previews of the redesigned court, then news of the official opening, then the date for the first home game. But one question mark was left unanswered about the Seawolves’ multi-million dollar renovation of the old arena: what would it be called?
The Athletics Department opened up the bidding for naming rights to the new home of men’s and women’s basketball several months ago at $5 million, and on Tuesday they announced that the contract had been awarded to Hauppauge-based Island Federal Credit Union in a sweeping, $7 million deal that also includes partnerships throughout the rest of the university.
That means you’ll be watching the Seawolves in the Island Federal Credit Union Arena for the next 10 years. Signage and other IFCU branding will be installed in the coming weeks and months as the partnership continues to unfurl.
It may be a mouthful, but Athletics welcomed the news in a press release posted Tuesday morning:
Seawolves basketball fans will see a comforting sight on opening night next month: Bryan Dougher sitting on the bench.
Stony Brook’s all time Division I leading scorer has been hired by Athletics to serve as the program’s new Director of Basketball Operations, inheriting the job from another Seawolves great Ricky Lucas.
It’s a far-reaching position, and one well suited for someone of Dougher’s stature. Traditionally, the DBO has served as something of an ambassador for the program, dealing with alumni, potential recruits and fundraising efforts in addition to his work with the team itself.
I don’t like betting on Stony Brook to lose, but you’d forgive me if I had the Seawolves as heavy underdogs heading into Saturday’s game against New Hampshire.
Their task was tall: play the #3 team in the country. Do it at a time when UNH is well-rested and healthy coming out of a bye week. And do it on the road.
And yet. Stony Brook marched straight into Durham and gave New Hampshire everything it could handle on Saturday, nearly knocking off the conference’s best team in the process.
Stony Brook’s nation-leading defense was tasked with containing an offense that came in averaging 37 points and 470 yards per game, and the Seawolves’ offense — hardly a juggernaut, with zero games over 21 points and 350 yards — would likely need to turn in season-best performances to have even a chance at the upset.
But that’s exactly what happened. Connor Bednarski was given free reign under center, airing out 41 pass attempts, while some unlikely faces turned in huge performances as the Seawolves came within a few inches of sending the game to overtime.
The Seawolves are the favorites to win the America East title this season, according to the conference’s preseason coaches poll released on Thursday.
Stony Brook received 6 of a possible 8 first place votes to finished ahead of #2 Hartford and #3 Albany. The Seawolves won a conference-high 23 games last season but finished second in the regular season title race to Vermont and lost in the America East title game.
They return two of the conference’s best players, juniors Jameel Warney and Carson Puriefoy. Both were selected for the preseason All-Conference team. The duo will lead a very young and very talented team in their new home. Redshirt freshman Roland Nyama will make his Stony Brook debut this year, alongside true freshman Deshaun Thrower, who was named the best high school basketball player in Michigan last year.
A strong roster of returning talent will fill out the starting rotation and the bench, including Chris Braley, Scott King, Kameron Mitchell, Ryan Burnett and Rayshaun McGrew. Newcomers Tyrell Sturdivant and Bryan Sekunda, both true freshman, could see ample playing time in their first season, while Jakub Petras, a 6’11” freshman recruit from Slovakia, could find a spot in the rotation as a true center.
Lucas Woodhouse, a highly touted transfer from Longwood University, will take a redshirt year under NCAA transfer rules.
Amazingly, despite four 20-win seasons, three regular season crowns and three trips to the conference championship game all in the last five years, this marks the first time Stony Brook has started the season as the preseason favorite. Vermont, which earned the nod each of the last two seasons, was picked 4th after losing five key seniors from last year’s team and returns only one starter in Ethan O’Day.
Stony Brook will look to make good on their preseason perch starting November 14, when they open the brand-new Stony Brook Arena against a very good Columbia team that won 21 games a season ago.