Head coach Geno Ford of Stony Brook looks on in...

Head coach Geno Ford of Stony Brook looks on in the second half against William & Mary at Island Federal Credit Arena on Thursday, Feb. 16, 2023. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Last season’s grand vision for Stony Brook’s first year of men’s basketball in the Coastal Athletic Association never materialized. The Seawolves were going to start a dynamic pair of transfers in the backcourt in Dean Noll and Aaron Clarke before injuries trashed coach Geno Ford’s blueprint. Noll missed the entire season with a knee injury and Clarke was limited to three games with a back malady.

Ford has unearthed that design again with both players back and the return of leading scorer Tyler Stephenson-Moore. He said the Seawolves will use “a ton of [that blueprint] because now we have multiple guards that can get in the lane and make plays.”

“A year ago, we got in a situation where we had to run set plays [and] it was like watching a football team,” Ford said. “We ran a set play every trip down the floor and we had to get the ball to a specific guy in a specific spot or we had no chance. . . . Because Dean and Aaron and [guard] Toby [Onyekonwu] have gotten better, we've now got guards that can break the defense down so we get some good shots organically, just through the flow of the game.”

Stony Brook, which finished last season 11-22 and 6-12 in the CAA, was tabbed ninth of 14 in the conference’s preseason coaches’ poll. The Seawolves open the season with a good barometer game: a Nov. 7 date against St. John’s at Carnesecca Arena.

As a result of the injuries, Stephenson-Moore was pressed to carry more than one player should. He was forced to play an average of 37.7 minutes per contest (and averaged a team-best 14.3 points). But the situation also showed that players like 7-foot center Keenan Fitzmorris – a gifted 54% shooter who averaged 9.8 points and is an impressive passer – can be major contributors this season.

Stephenson-Moore, voted to the preseason all-conference second team, no longer will have to carry the team and he said all he has to do “is just be a leader.”

Through the NCAA transfer portal, Stony Brook is bringing home a major potential contributor in 6-6 Melville product Andre Snoddy from Central Connecticut. Snoddy was a 2020 Newsday All-Long Island first team selection from St. Anthony’s and started 62 of 63 games with CCSU over the past two seasons, averaging 9.5 points and 8.4 rebounds last season.

Ford said that Snoddy and 6-10 Fairfield transfer Chris Maidoh will close the gap between the Seawolves and the more physical CAA teams that pushed them around last season.

“Where we got hurt last year was people just overpowered us in the paint and we had a hard time stopping them,” he said. "I’m hopeful they can bring to games what they’ve brought to practice because they've been elite defensively.”

The Island rivalry between Stony Brook and Hofstra started to take on a new measure of intensity with them now meeting twice in conference games. The Pride nearly got sidetracked en route to the regular-season title before surviving, 68-65, at Island Federal Arena late last season.

The Seawolves host Hofstra on Jan. 22 and visit the Pride on Feb. 1.

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