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Carson Puriefoy III gives Stony Brook new gear
There was no question entering this season that Stony Brook would be a much-improved offensive team with freshman Jameel Warney manning the low post, and he has more than lived up to the hype with a team-leading 12.2 points and America East-leading field goal percentage of .624, not to mention 7.3 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game.
But it’s the Seawolves’ other freshman – backup point guard Carson Puriefoy III -- who is emerging as something of an “X factor” entering the America East tournament Saturday at SEFCU Arena in Albany. It was Puriefoy (pictured) who came off the bench and kicked SBU’s offense into high gear, relying on his speed to score 15 of his 17 points in the second half of a 75-70 comeback win over Albany in the regular season finale. Not only that, but Puriefoy chased Great Danes guard Mike Black over the top of screens and made it difficult for him to score in the final six minutes of the game.
If Stony Brook wins its first-round game against Binghamton, there’s a good chance it will have a semifinal matchup with Albany, which meets Maine in the first round. So, the Seawolves might need an encore from Puriefoy against Black and the Danes.
“One of our keys was to stop Black as well as we could,” Puriefoy said after their last meeting. “He’s a great player. I just try to bring energy to cover him as best I could. My offense resulted from the defense.”
When Puriefoy forced turnovers or grabbed long rebounds, he reached top gear in a flash, leading the Seawolves’ transition game. One time, he had Black backpedaling all the way to the basket, where he was helpless to stop a Puriefoy layup.
“That’s my best asset is my speed,” Puriefoy said. “Coach tells me to use it all the time. Be fast in practice, and I’ll be fast in the game. That’s what I try to bring.”
Stony Brook captain Tommy Brenton said the two freshmen have given the Seawolves something they lacked in the past – shotblocking and speed. Warney has help on the defensive end from a trio of 6-10 big men, Eric McAlister, Scott King and Anthony Mayo. Puriefoy, who is averaging 5.2 points, is fourth in scoring among SBU’s guards behind starters Anthony Jackson (10.9) and Dave Coley (10.6) and veteran Marcus Rouse (6.4), who also happens to be the top three-point percentage shooter (.436) in the conference.
But it has taken time for Puriefoy to show in games what he has demonstrated in practice. “Trey is the quickest point guard we’ve had here,” said Brenton, using Puriefoy's nickname. “In practice, sometimes, I’ll be on defense, and he’ll do a move, split defenders and make a layup. I’m standing there like, ‘Oh, my God, that was unbelievable.’
“Then, playing with Jameel, he’ll be surrounded by three people, and I’ll just throw it up, and he’ll catch it like glue and make me look good. They’ve been a huge help offensively and defensively.”
Puriefoy’s growth spurt came when he started four midseason conference games in place of Jackson, who had an ankle injury. “Those four games I started helped my confidence, and A.J. has taught me a lot,” Puriefoy said. “The way I see it, I’m not a freshman anymore given how many minutes I’ve played and how many games we’ve been through.”
That’s the way Brenton sees it, too. “Jameel and Trey have had a lot of practice,” Brenton said. “Trey is always in the gym. He’s definitely focused, and Jameel is a monster. I haven’t seen any immaturity from them. They don’t play like freshmen; they don’t act like freshmen. I’m real excited to have them by my side.”