At a burly 6-7 with a mane of long hair that flops onto his forehead and comes perilously close to covering his eyes, Andrew Daniel stands out on the basketball court. Especially in small-school Suffolk League VIII, where there rarely is anyone even close to looking the senior from the Stony Brook School in the eye.
"Yeah, the fans see me and they expect me to get every rebound," Daniel said with an amiable shrug. He's coming pretty darn close.
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Daniel improved his Long Island-leading rebound average with 15 more Thursday night as host Stony Brook dominated inside and out in throttling Greenport, 57-36. Flashy freshman Chase Audige scored 15 of his 18 points in the first half when the Bears (7-1) broke it open with a 22-9 second period. Asaiah Wilson added 13 points and Daniel had nine points, barely missing yet another double-double. He averages 10.3 points and 12.8 rebounds for the season.
"He dominates the glass. He's very intimidating," Stony Brook coach Mike Hickey said. "It's not necessarily the blocked shots but the altered shots. We'd like him to score a little more, but he does a lot to spread out our offense."
Daniel is an excellent passer from the post and because Greenport (4-4), like most teams, tried to double- and triple-team him, there were many opportunities for open shots. Audige hit three three-pointers and Wilson, a transfer from Mercy, where he was one of the top three-point shooters in Suffolk last season, added two more.
"We have a height advantage in every game so we try to exploit that," Daniel said. "We talk about it before the game: 'Get the ball inside.' " Sometimes that results in good looks for Daniel; more often, it results in uncontested shots for Wilson, Audige and point guard Brandon Odom.
"We have guards who can shoot and we pride ourselves on well-rounded stats," Daniel said. "We like to have multiple contributors."
Those contributions begin in practice, where 6-6 Mike Dingammadji and 6-5 Bryce Jackson provide competition and allow Daniel to pick on someone nearly his own size.
"We have an exciting attitude in practice," Daniel said. "Just because we have a height advantage doesn't mean we can get sloppy. We have fun and we motivate each other."
The Bears are strongly motivated as a team to take one more giant step in the postseason. Last year, they were beaten, 44-39, by the state's No. 1-ranked Class C team, Pine Plains, in a regional final, where a victory would have sent them to Glens Falls.
"It's very clear what our motivation is this year," Daniel said. "We have a target. We have a chip on our shoulders."
The Bears want to cash that chip upstate.