Stony Brook's colorful fans have the blues
The jaws of Rob Maloney's shark costume drooped sadly with his dropped head.
Eric Apicella's elephant head sat morosely by his side.
They slumped in the stands of the now-deserted Stony Brook student cheering section and watched as Albany climbed the ladder and cut the net off their hoop. Gone were their classmates' signs, the posters of giant heads, that one girl in a tutu and all the shirtless fans.
"This is the second time we've watched another team storm our court," said Maloney, 19, dressed in head-to-toe costume. "It was a heartbreaker. I definitely had my heart and soul in this and this was a tough loss."
Maloney and Apicella explained that, as a mythical creature, Seawolf costumes are hard to come by. They wouldn't be deterred from showing school spirit, though -- not when tickets were so hard to come by (" 'jumped through hoops' is an understatement," Maloney said), and not when this finally felt like the year.
"We thought we were in control," said Apicella, who lives off campus in Rocky Point. "We were up by six with seven minutes left and then, just a complete momentum shift."
Though perhaps the most interestingly dressed, the two typify a fan base that has made opposing teams dread heading to Stony Brook. They are loud, they are colorful, and though they're currently pretty bummed after losing in the America East championship game for the third time in four years, they're very hard to ignore.
It's not only the students, either. Season-ticket holder Sandy Miller, 55, came in with Facebook "like" and "dislike" foam hands, signed by the team. Her red fedora also was signed, and crowned by Seawolf ears.
"We're just huge fans," she said of her husband, Gavin, and son, Aidan ["a SeaPup''] during halftime with Stony Brook trailing by three. "This is everything for us. This is the biggest game in our history."
She, like many season-ticket holders, watches almost every home men's and women's game. When Stony Brook is on the road, they stream the games and hook it up to the TV.
Her level of dedication was matched by the six men directly across from her -- shirtless and painted in the letters "G-O-S-B-U-!'' They try to attend every home game, they said, and choose who gets each letter "based on chest hair pattern," said "B,'' Michael Lavina, 21. "You can see the 'G' in his chest hair," he added pointing to Lars Folkerts, 21.
"Well . . . I got the exclamation point because I came late," said Alex Langstrand, 22.
Arjun Kumar, the "U'' celebrating his 20th birthday in the stands with his friends, said they spent the previous night going to three different stores looking for the paint.
"It takes an hour, half-hour to apply," Lavina added.
"But it's really a mind-set," said Jamie Leonard, 20, the "O.''
Michael Specht, a fully dressed 45-year-old season-ticket holder from Setauket, agreed that the school has something special in its fans. The loss, though difficult, wasn't a full defeat -- not with several key players returning.
"You have to be optimistic," he said. "It was fantastic for them to get to the final game. [Albany] just hit their big shots . . . They had a couple guys that hit every shot and every free throw in the second half."
All you can do after that is shake your shark head and wait 'til next year.