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.
One season after making a surprising run to the conference title game and a berth to the NIT tournament, the Seawolves women’s basketball team will start the 2014-2015 season as the second ranked team in the America East preseason coaches poll.
There’s teamwork and there’s teamwork.
For at least the first 10 minutes of the game, it looked like Stacey Bedell might emerge from North Carolina as the only Seawolf with any statistics to his name.
Stony Brook ran 17 offensive plays in the first quarter, all of them on the ground and most of them involving Bedell. The sophomore had 83 yards by the end of the first half, 31 yards more than the entire Elon offense.
After an opening drive in which Stony Brook couldn’t convert on a 4th and 1 and turned the ball over at around midfield, the Seawolves looked positively dominant in the first half, orchestrating a 7 play, 75 yard drive to take a 7-3 lead midway through the first quarter and then capitalizing on an Elon muffed punt for another seven on their very next possession.
But Elon’s defense stiffened from there on, holding Stony Brook off the scoreboard until late in the 4th quarter with the game already out of reach for the Phoenix.
Right out of the gate, Stony Brook looked to be in trouble. On just their second play from scrimmage, Maine quarterback Dan Collins nailed wide-open receiver Jeremy Salmon in stride and waltzed 73 yards into the endzone for a 7-0 lead less than a minute into the game.
But the Black Bears managed little more the rest of the way. The nation’s top FCS defense shut out Maine for the rest of the evening, allowing just 62 yards for the remainder of the game to back up the offense’s inspired third quarter in which they posted two touchdowns and went up 16-3 en route to a 19-7 victory, their second straight conference win.
The Athletics Department on Friday officially opened the new 4,000-seat Stony Brook Arena, a renovation project that has spanned two university presidents, three conference championships, four twenty-win seasons and five years.
The new venue will house Stony Brook men’s and women’s basketball, and both rosters were on hand to partake in the celebration alongside President Stanley, new Athletics Director Shawn Heilbron and other notables.
“This is truly a game changer,” said men’s basketball Head Coach Steve Pikiell, who took over the program as construction was just about to get underway. “This building is emblematic of where Stony Brook is going,” added Heilbron.
Before Seawolves basketball open their seasons in mid-November, the court was put through its paces by the Harlem Globetrotters, the famous entertainers who played two games — one on Saturday afternoon, another later that evening — against the Washington Generals in front of large crowds.
Towson traveled to Stony Brook last season and beat the Seawolves in The Valley en route to a berth in the national title game. This year, the Seawolves returned the favor.
The Seawolves defense, ranked #1 in the country heading into Maryland, showed they’re no fluke by holding the Tigers to just a field goal, the first time Towson has been kept out of the endzone in a game since 2010. Led by Christian Ricard’s 10 tackles, the Seawolves allowed just 242 yards of total offense to a team that came in averaging over 300 yards per game. Darius Victor, the leading rusher for Towson who was averaging 117 yards per game, was held to just 59 yards on Saturday.
It could have been easy to write off the Seawolves’ homecoming game as a lost cause. Given how bad last week’s performance was against North Dakota on the road, there wasn’t much reason for optimism on Saturday.
But the record crowd of more than 11,300 nearly witnesses a huge upset, and the Seawolves faithful left with their hope restored.
William and Mary needed overtime to sneak past the Seawolves on Saturday despite coming into The Valley as the #13 team in the FCS and the Seawolves sporting a lousy 1-3 record.
There was a brief moment when the Seawolves’ 2014 schedule first came out during which I audibly gasped. Could it be? Are we really playing North Dakota State on the road?
Alas, it only took a second to realize that it was their lowly neighbor to the even further north that we would be meeting on the frozen tundra. The University of North Dakota’s fortunes have fallen about as far as NDSU’s have risen, and this looked like a very winnable game for Stony Brook.
It may as well have been the three-time defending champions out there on Saturday though, as the Seawolves turned in their worst performance of the year and were kept out of the end zone for the first time since 2008.
The defense was again superb, limiting North Dakota to just 145 yards of total offense. But two critical lapses cost the Seawolves the game.