The teams and the officials are in place, so the show will go on in the snow for the men's basketball teams in two big games tonight at Stony Brook and Hofstra. Third-place Maine visits the first-place Seawolves in a battle for control of the America East tonight at Pritchard Gymnasium, and tickets still are available for one what might be the biggest basketball game in Stony Brook history -- at least until Vermont visits on Feb. 24.
Hofstra (12-13, 5-8 CAA) is home at Mack Sports Complex for a Colonial Athletic Association match with fourth-place Drexel (14-11, 9-4 CAA), which defeated the Pride earlier this season in Philadelphia. Center Greg Washington needs three blocked shots to tie the school record of 178 set by David Taylor (1979-83), but more importantly, Tom Pecora's team is trying to get back to .500 and to get its first win over one of the five CAA teams above the Pride in the standings after going 0-8 against that group so far.
For Stony Brook (16-7, 8-2 AE), tonight's game against the Black Bears (16-8, 8-3) represents a watershed moment since the program moved up to Division I competition 10 years ago. Newsday's Mark Herrmann spoke to Seawolves coach Steve Pikiell and three-point ace Bryan Dougher for a story in today's snow-covered edition (http://is.gd/85YKB) for some perspective on how far the program has come.
Maine, which defeated Stony Brook, 67-61, earlier this season in Orono, dropped out of first-place in America East with two straight losses to University of Maryland-Baltimore County and Vermont (18-8, 9-3) before winning its past two games against Binghamton and UMBC. A win tonight would put Maine, which has a win over Boston College of the Atlantic Coast Conference, into a first place tie with Vermont at 9-3 and drop the Seawolves half a game behind at 8-3.
A Stony Brook win would put the Seawolves in the driver's seat at 9-2 with home games Saturday against Binghamton and against Vermont plus three road games against the bottom three teams in the league, UMBC, Albany and New Hampshire. The winner of the regular-season title is guaranteed at least an NIT bid if it doesn't win the conference tournament to gain entry into the NCAA tournament.
When they visited Maine, the Seawolves took a 14-point lead with 18 minutes left in the game but shot only 37.9 percent from the field. The Black Bears hit 60.7 percent in the second half to overcome the deficit as Troy Barnies had 18 points and nine rebounds. Leading scorer Gerald McLemore (14.3 points per game) added 10. Dallis Joyner (17) and Muhammad El-Amin (15) led Stony Brook.