It’s far too early to consider any game in a college basketball a “must-win”, but Sunday’s matchup between Stony Brook and Albany, both off to 2-0 starts in the America East, is at the very least a statement game.
The two will tip off on Sunday at 2 p.m. at Pritchard Gymnasium.
Stony Brook (7-6, 2-0) came into the season as the preseason favorite by several media outlets to win the conference regular season title. After an inconsistent start, the Seawolves have won four in a row and are in a groove.
Albany (10-6, 2-0), winners of three straight, is also on fire. The Great Danes have a big time offense and a big time scorer in Gerardo Suero (22.1). Stony Brook’s offense has had a rough go at times, but recently Steve Pikiell’s crew has become more efficient.
Dave Coley has been the ring leader for Stony Brook. The 6-2 sophomore has reached double figures in five straight and six of his last seven games. Most importantly, Coley is taking good shots. He’s shooting 46 percent over his last five games.
Dallis Joyner has also had a big hand in Stony Brook’s four-game streak. The 6-7 senior had 15 points against Rider and eight points on 4-for-5 shooting and seven rebounds in the Seawolves’ win at Binghamton on Thursday. Bryan Dougher has been his usual self and has scored in double figures in all but two of Stony Brook’s games.
There is also senior forward Al Rapier, who has reached double digits in three straight. He had 17 points on 7-for-11 shooting against Vermont.
Stony Brook will need all hands on deck to stop Albany.
"Albany is going to be a tough matchup. They score a lot of points, they can beat you inside and they can beat you with perimeter shooting,” said Pikiell. “Suero is one of the league's most dynamic players.”
Stony Brook-Albany games usually draw decent crowds. Sunday should be no different. And if any team has an edge it should be Stony Brook, which is 6-0 at home this season.
Having the home court advantage doesn’t guarantee the Seawolves anything.
“They're a well-coached team. We'll have to come out with energy and play solid defense on Sunday,” Pikiell added. “It should be a great matchup in front of our home fans."