Stony Brook (20-7, 12-2 America East)
Post season outlook: The Seawolves are having a marvelous season and have won nine straight games. Friday night’s 68-66 win at Albany sets them up for a monster home game against Vermont (20-8, 11-3) on Wednesday. A win against the Catamounts would clinch the America East regular season title for Stony Brook and guarantee a NIT berth. As well as the Seawolves have played, making the NIT instead of the NCAA Tournament would be a disappointment to some. Stony Brook, which has beaten every team in the conference at least once, is likely to be the favorite to win the conference tourney. Can they stand up to the pressure? Even money says yes.
Future prospects: For most mid-major programs, it takes three to four years for a recruiting class to mature and make a run to the NCAA tournament. Stony Brook has done it with three sophomores and a junior in the starting lineup and two freshmen (Marcus Rouse, Preye Preboye) getting major minutes. With talented recruits Dave Coley from Brooklyn and Al Rapier expected to make an immediate impact next season, the Seawolves should be enjoying the sweet smell of success for several more years. An argument can be made that the Seawolves are at least a year early. There’s nothing wrong with jumping the gun.
Hofstra (15-13, 8-8 CAA)
Post season outlook: The Pride has experienced its share of ups and downs this season: a five-game losing streak, followed by two three-game win streaks. Hofstra is locked into the seventh seed for the CAA Tournament, which means it will have to win four games in four days to win it. Is that too much to ask? Probably. Hofstra didn’t do it during the Loren Stokes-Antoine Agudio era so it might be a little too difficult for anyone to think the Pride can do it now. But they’ve played well over the last month and could be the surprise of the CAA tourney.
Future prospects: Hofstra has a big future ahead of it to thanks to the play of freshmen Chaz Williams and Halil Kanacevic. Charles Jenkins will be back for his senior year as will Greg Washington and Nathaniel Lester. With former Uniondale guard Devon McMillan and 6-7 forward Marvin Dominique out of the Winchendon School (Mass) on board next year, the Pride shouldn’t be down for long.
St. John’s (14-11, 4-9) Big East
Post season outlook: Grabbing an at-large NCAA bid is all but out of the question for St. John’s. The only hope would be a five-game winning streak to end the regular season and a run to the Big East tournament championship game. Short of that, the Red Storm will be playing for the NIT. But even that is an up hill climb with Marquette, Syracuse and Pittsburgh still on the schedule. The one positive is that the Red Storm will be playing in the Big East Tournament where anything can happen.
Future prospects: St. John’s will return 14 its 15 players on the roster next season. Anthony Mason Jr., who didn’t play last season and missed the first 14 games this year, is the only senior. D.J. Kennedy, Paris Horne, Justin Burrell, etc… will all be back next season. Considering they have yet to get a NCAA or NIT bid, is that a good thing or a bad thing? With so much experience returning there should be some improvement, especially if Norm Roberts’ job is on the line. Red Storm players will make it their business to play hard to keep him around past next year, assuming he survives this season. Next season should be better. The question is how much better will they be.
St. John’s (21-5, 9-4 Big East)
Post season outlook: The No.22 Red Storm are a lock for the NCAA Tournament. The question is how high will they be seeded and how far will they go. Tuesday’s home win over Notre Dame was arguably the biggest in program history. The Red Storm ends their regular season with road games at Rutgers and Pittsburgh and a home matchup against Villanova in between. Barring a complete meltdown, the Red Storm should win at least two of those three, which would give them a 23-6 mark. A clean sweep guarantees St. John’s the fifth seed for the Big East Tournament and possibly a fifth or even fourth seed in the NCAA tourney.
Future prospects: Coach Kim Barnes Arico has done a great job recruiting the last couple of seasons. Sophomore Da’Shena Stevens should get all-conference honors, while freshman guard Shenneika Smith will be a rookie of the year candidate. Freshmen Nadirah McKenith and Eugeneia McPherson have also made their presence felt at various times this season. Junior guard Sky Lindsay provides a steadying influence in the backcourt. Fellow junior Coco Hart has been solid in the paint off the bench. In coming guards Keylantra Langley (Bridgeport, Connecticut) and Briana Brown (Norwalk, Connecticut) are expected to add depth in the backcourt.
The pieces are in place for St. John’s to become a perennial power.
Hofstra (15-11, 8-6 CAA)
Post season outlook: The Pride has been steady for much of the season. Buoyed by a stellar effort from freshman Shante Evans and sophomores Nicole Capurso and Candice Bellocchio, the Pride is within striking distance of fourth place. Evans had 17 points and 20 rebounds in a 59-49 win over George Mason on Thursday afternoon. Seniors Jess Fuller and Sam Brigham have provided a veteran influence. With games against Drexel (16-8, 10-3) and Delaware (16-9, 8-6) still left on the schedule, the Pride still has the power to make things interesting. But make no mistake about it, Hofstra needs a strong finish in the regular season and possibly two wins in the CAA tournament to warrant NIT consideration. As for the NCAA tourney, the Pride needs to win the CAA tournament.
Future prospects: With Evans, Capurso and Bellocchio in the mix, the Pride will be strong for the next few seasons. And it won’t be just about those three. Hofstra has just two seniors on its 12-player roster. The key for the Pride has been the recruiting done by coach Krista Kilburn-Steveskey. She has a knack for finding immediate-impact players. Evans, Capurso and Bellocchio are a prime example. The Pride’s recruiting class for next fall, which includes 5-11 guard Kate Loper, 5-9 G-F Annie Payton and rugged 5-10 forward Ngwanma Onyeuku, could play a major factor as soon as next season.
Stony Brook (8-18, 6-8 America East)
Post season outlook: The Seawolves took some big strides this season. The overall record is nothing to write home about, but Michele Cherry’s crew has played well in conference. The Seawolves don’t have a chance for an at-large NCAA or NIT bid, but they’ve played well enough and could throw a scare into a couple of teams in the America East Conference Tournament.
Future prospects: Three of the Seawolves’ top five scorers are back next year, including juniors Kirsten Jeter and Misha Horsey. Sophomore Destiny Jacobs has shown flashes and could be an inside force for the next two seasons. Freshman guard Sam Landers has also played strong at times. The question is what the Seawolves will get out of junior Cassie Klockgether next season. She had a career-high 17 points, including five three-pointers in a win over Maine on February 13. 6-foot senior Crystal Rushin, the Seawolves second leading scorer will be missed. But Morghan Farnsworth, a 6-1 power forward from New Hampshire, is expected to do big things.