"Together We Transform" is the slogan for Stony Brook's athletic fundraising initiative, but it just as easily could describe the evolution of the Seawolves' women's basketball program as it starts its second season under coach Caroline McCombs.
Post player Brittany Snow and point guard Kori Bayne-Walker are the anchors for a program in transition with the addition of three talented freshmen who have a chance to play important roles.
"We do have a lot of new faces, but they're very great new faces," Snow said of the incoming freshman class. "I'm excited to see them play. I think they're meshing well with the older players. It's a good combination of all different weapons we have on offense and defense."
Leading scorer Sabre Proctor and leading rebounder Jessica Ogunnorin graduated off last season's 17-win team that finished third in the America East Conference. But McCombs added freshman post player Ogechi Anyagaligbo, whose Miami high school team won the Dick's Sporting Goods national high school championship last spring at Madison Square Garden. Guards Jerell Matthews and Davion Wingate also come with strong pedigrees.
"I think Ogechi Anyagaligbo is going to be a great player," Snow said. "She just has to get used to college basketball. I have to keep pushing her, and she continues to learn every day. Our other two freshmen, Davion Wingate and Jerell Matthews, are both picking up our system very quickly."
The incoming players must take their cues from Snow (10.8 points, 6.2 rebounds), Bayne-Walker (11.8 points, 5.3 assists) and starting guard Christa Scognamiglio (8.4 points). Anyagaligbo is competing with senior Alyssa Coiro at the other forward spot and Matthews is battling senior Miranda Jenkins for a starting wing spot. Wingate, daughter of former Georgetown great David Wingate, will back up Bayne-Walker at point guard.
"All of my freshmen have won a state championship so they understand winning and competing," McCombs said. "They've competed against some top players in the country. But there's a transition to college and the weight room, and those things take time.
"We have a very tough non-conference schedule that will help us to prepare and allow the freshmen to go through some growing pains early. I feel a lot better going into year two.''