When he arrived from junior college last season, Al Rapier quickly found his place in the starting unit and almost as quickly played himself out of it as his starter status lasted only nine games. He came into this season in a kind of limbo as head coach Steve Pikiell sorted through a variety of lineup combinations and used Rapier strictly off the bench.
But Rapier (pictured) moved into the starting lineup for the past nine games, and the Seawolves have gone 7-2 over that stretch. Rapier's game in SBU's 61-52 victory over New Hampshire Monday evening at Pritchard Gym was typical of how much he has improved. He scored 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting and added nine rebounds and two assists. It was the sixth time in nine games Rapier has scored in double figures, and he missed by only a point in two of the other three games.
Rapier had eight points in the first 6:31 against the Wildcats as Stony Brook jumped out to a 12-5 lead. "My teammates just got me the ball, and I scored," Rapier said. "I was in the right place."
The number that pleased Pikiell was the "9" in Rapier's rebound column. "Al's been good," Pikiell said. "I like the fact he got nine rebounds. That's a great number for him. He's playing like a veteran guy."
It's reflected in how his numbers have improved across the board in minutes played (17.7 to 24.4), field-goal percentage (.533 to .558), free throw percentage (.458 to .775), rebounds (4.2 to 5.1) and scoring average (4.3 to 9.8). Since becoming a starter again, Rapier has averaged 11.2 points and 5.6 rebounds. If the 6-8, 230-pound forward can maintain that level of consistency while playing alongside forwards Dallis Joyner and Tommy Brenton, Stony Brook will have an imposing front line by America East standards come conference tournament time.