NEWARK, N.J. — His team was up by 30 points, on its way to a blowout win, on the road, and Stony Brook coach Steve Pikiell was holding his breath. His team’s best player, Jameel Warney, was lying on the floor in pain, and that was not a good thing.
After a minute or so, Warney, the 6-8 senior who had five NBA scouts in the building looking at him, popped up and hobbled his way down the court to the end of the Stony Brook bench. His night was over, and his team would finish the 83-61 victory over NJIT without him. Warney watched the rest of the game from the end of the bench, with a bag of ice on his lower right leg, and Pikiell and the rest of the Seawolves left hoping their main man wasn’t seriously injured.
“I hope he’s just scared us,’’ Pikiell said. “He’s got to see some people tomorrow, so we’ll find out tomorrow.’’
Warney, the Plainfield, N.J. native and two-time defending America East Player of the Year, was dominating when he left the game with 11:22 remaining. He already had 20 points, nine rebounds and three blocked shots when he went up to swat away a shot by NJIT’s Osa Izevbuwa with the Seawolves leading, 70-40. Izevbuwa had been fouled, though, and was falling as he threw up his shot. Warney, who went high to get the ball, fell over Izevbuwa and landed awkwardly. He would leave the game with ice wrapped around his right shin.
“Everybody’s optimistic,’’ Stony Brook guard Carson Puriefoy said. “He seemed fine in the locker room, so we’re just going to take it one game at a time. We know how important he is to us, but we also have to know how to play without him at times . . . Our team isn’t defined by one player. We’re a family and we’ve just got to come together and pick it up.’’
If Warney isn’t able to play when Stony Brook hosts Columbia on Saturday, then Puriefoy will likely have to pick up much of the slack for the Seawolves. The senior from Wenonah, N.J. shrugged off a slow start against NJIT (1-for-6 from the floor in the first half) to finish with 15 points, and he hit a pair of big three-pointers back-to-back in the second half. Two other Stony Brook players scored 15 against NJIT: Ahmad Walker (who also had 11 rebounds) and Brian Sekunda (who was 3-for-6 from three-point range).
“Injuries happen in college,’’ Pikiell said, when asked how his team will manage if Warney is out. “Hopefully it’s nothing that’s going to keep him out, but if that’s the case, we just have to roll with the other guys.”