ALBANY -- Winning the league tournament to gain an automatic NCAA Tournament berth in a one-bid conference always is a crapshoot, and Stony Brook has rolled snake eyes in the past two America East finals. But Seawolves coach Steve Pikiell says his third regular-season champion team in the past four seasons "is my most talented team."
Pikiell's peers obviously agree because Stony Brook became the first team in America East history to sweep the four major postseason awards in a vote of the conference's coaches. Forward Tommy Brenton was named player of the year and defensive player of the year, freshman forward Jameel Warney won rookie of the year, and Pikiell earned his third coach of the year designation in the past four seasons.
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In addition, Brenton was a unanimous first-team all-conference selection, Warney made the second team, guard Dave Coley was named to the third team and all three of those Seawolves were named to the all-defensive team.
It was a remarkable showing, but as Pikiell said, those awards won't mean a thing at Saturday's 6 p.m. tipoff when the Seawolves (23-6, 14-2 America East) face Binghamton (3-26, 1-13) in a quarterfinal game at SEFCU Arena on the Albany campus.
"We had a good season, and that's what happens," Pikiell said of the awards. "I'm happy for Tommy. It's well-deserved by Jameel. I'm excited about Dave because he became a good defender. I'm excited for all of them."
But recalling how former Seawolf Muhammad El-Amin struggled in the conference tournament after winning player of the year honors in 2010, Pikiell said: "I already told Tommy, 'You don't have to play like the player of the year. You just have to play like Tommy.' "
The versatile Brenton (8.9 points, 8.7 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 1.6 steals) was joined on the first team by unanimous selections Mark Nwakamma of Hartford and D.J. Irving of Boston University as well as Brian Voelkel of Vermont and Mike Black of Albany.
Warney (12.2 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.6 blocks, .624 field-goal percentage) is the first Seawolf named rookie of the year and the first freshman to make the all-defensive team. Coley (10.6 points, 4.2 rebounds) helped SBU rank fifth nationally in field-goal defense (.374).
"I know how hard I had to work to get back to being the player I am," Brenton said, referring to missing the 2010-11 campaign with a dislocated knee. "It's gratifying, and it's very humbling to know coaches vote on it. To get the respect from them means a lot to me."