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Expectations rise for Stony Brook
After winning the America East Conference’s regular season title two of the last three seasons, much is expected of the Stony Brook men's basketball program.
After another year of strong recruiting, the Seawolves are poised to do it again.
Success brings expectations, though. And these days, the Seawolves are expected to finish at or near the top of the league every season. As strong as his squad has looked this season, Stony Brook coach Steve Pikiell isn’t ready to start anointing them as the team to beat.
Stony Brook lost several foundation-laying players from last season, including Bryan Dougher, Dallis Joyner and Al Rapier, the most productive senior class in the Seawolves’ Division I history. Replacing that kind of talent and experience isn't easy.
So far Stony Brook (5-2) hasn’t missed a beat. A strong showing in a loss to Connecticut on Sunday and a big win at Cornell on Wednesday has Seawolves’ fans practically foaming at the mouth for the conference season to get under way.
But Pikiell, as any coach would tell you, knows the job isn’t done.
“I'm happy with the start we've had, but with three new starters and three freshmen playing regular minutes, we're still trying to figure what we have in this team,” said Pikiell.
If there’s one thing Pikiell can be sure of, it’s the Seawolves’ inside game.
Thanks to 6-8, 255-pound freshman Jameel Warney, Stony Brook has someone to dump the ball into. Warney is averaging 11.9 points on 60.4 percent shooting and 8.1 rebounds per game.
Senior forward Tommy Brenton (8.3 points, 8 rebounds, 4.9 assists) has also excellent in the paint and forms a potent combo with Warney.
Anthony Jackson has also been a pleasant surprise. The junior guard is leading the team in scoring (13.3), up from averages of 4.6 and 5.5 points per game in his freshman and sophomore seasons. Fellow junior Dave Coley (11.7 ppg, 4.1 reb) has also been a solid contributor.
With a home contest versus Eastern Illinois on Saturday, followed by a five-game road swing, Stony Brook is going to need everyone to produce.
“And now we are facing a tough month of December ahead of us with five straight road games after this Saturday, including games against ACC and Big East teams and a game against one of the best teams in the MAAC,” said Pikiell. “It's probably the toughest stretch of games we've ever had as a Div. I program. We're happy with the start, but we've got a lot of work to do.”