Call it the appeal of Jameel. Stony Brook's Jameel Warney, a 6-8 freshman, continues to impress his coach and teammates, and the Seawolves keep ringing up victories in the best start in their Division I history.
In the first America East Conference game of his career, Warney was a force on both ends Saturday, scoring 18 points and blocking four shots as Stony Brook (10-4, 1-0) took a 65-49 victory over visiting New Hampshire (4-10, 0-2).
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Warney shot 7-for-8 from the field and is at 61 percent, which places him in the top 10 in the nation.
"I don't really see myself as a freshman, I see myself as a contributor,'' said Warney, who is from Plainfield, N.J. "The team gave me the summer to be a freshman. Now I'm just really a good contributor on this team on both ends. I've seen everything, so I'm more composed as a player, not forcing anything and letting the game come to me.''
Warney, who is averaging 11.9 points, made it look easy, whether it be a dunk or a bank off the backboard after receiving the ball down low. "The veterans around him know how to get him the ball,'' coach Steve Pikiell said, "and he's really learning how to use his body.''
Case in point: With Stony Brook leading 42-34, Warney took a pass from Tommy Brenton and slammed it through the cylinder. Then Warney took a pass from Marcus Rouse and hit a layup to give the Seawolves a 12-point lead with 10:34 left. New Hampshire never got closer than eight after that.
The Seawolves have won 11 straight regular-season conference games at Pritchard Gymnasium, where the team is 42-16 (.724) since November 2008.
Warney scored eight points as Stony Brook took a 32-22 halftime lead. Freshman Carson Puriefoy, who played 14 first-half minutes when starting point guard Anthony Jackson was removed after two personal fouls, ran the offense like a veteran and scored all nine of his points.
The Seawolves had plenty of contributors off the bench. Rouse had nine points, Leonard Hayes added five points and three assists, and Anthony Mayo blocked two shots.
But Warney stood out. "Our non-conference games really prepared him to play against good post guys, and he's played against all of them,'' Pikiell said.
Warney was guarded for part of the game by 6-10 Chris Pelcher, who finished with four points and six rebounds. Warney went against a 7-footer at Maryland and scored 17 points.
"It's like a whole new dimension, a big offensive presence,'' said senior captain Brenton, who had 12 rebounds and five assists. "He can make post moves. On the defensive end, he's huge. Four blocks today. Both ends of the court, pretty amazing.''
And Warney knows this is just the beginning.
"Right now I think I'm pretty good. I have a long way to get to where I want to be,'' he said, noting that he needs to improve as a post defender and free-throw shooter. "As long as the team is winning, I'm content with that.''