Sometimes, Stony Brook plays big, pounding away in the middle and swatting away shots. Sometimes, it plays fast, going end to end in a rush. Sometimes, it can outshoot the other side. And sometimes, it does a little of everything, as it did to finally put away Binghamton Wednesday night.
“I think we have a lot of great pieces,” coach Jeff Boals said after the 59-46 decision at Island Federal Arena. “And every guy on the team adds a different dimension.”
For instance, there is Jeff Otchere, a 6-11 center from the Bronx who is a relative newcomer to basketball, having picked it up in gym class at Christopher Columbus High School and played one year at Garden City (KS) Junior College. He is coming along, witnessed by his seven blocks Wednesday.
“They throw it up so I just go get it. Just time it, don’t swing at everything,” he said after having helped his team improve to 14-3, 2-0 in America East.
Then there is Jules Moor, a freshman guard from Houston, who made one dynamic play after another during the pivotal 12-0 run in the second half after Binghamton (5-12, 1-1) had tied the score at 31. “He brings a lot of energy off the bench,” said Akwasi Yeboah, who, like the team as a whole, did a little of everything.
Despite wearing a brace on the right knee that he hyperextended last month, Yeboah had a double-double, 13 points and 13 rebounds with six assists, a couple of them to Elijah Olaniyi, who scored 12 points.
“We have guys who can come off the bench and produce the same output as the starters. It’s very important because everyone trusts each other,” Yeboah said. “We’re very strong in the areas of defense.”
He believes that defense won this game for the Seawolves and will be a key component in the team’s drive to win the conference and reach the Big Dance. Stony Brook limited skilled freshman Sam Sessoms to 5-for-23 shooting and 12 points, nearly six less than his average. Overall, Binghamton had only 18 points in the paint. That is a tribute to the big guy guarding the basket.
“It’s a relief,” Yeboah said of Otchere. “It gives us a cushion, knowing that if we get beat, there’s a monster in the back who’s going to block everything and protect the paint for us. He’s been very big for us on the defensive end and he’s really a big part of what we’re doing.”
Many colleges had considered Otchere a diamond in the rough. He drew interest from teams in bigger conferences but chose Stony Brook for its proximity to the Bronx and for Boals’ reputation for letting players work through their mistakes. “Since I don’t have that much experience playing organized basketball, that’s the best coach for me,” the center said.
Truth be told, Stony Brook made its share of mistakes Wednesday, notably 25 turnovers. The point is, sometimes they win when it’s not pretty. “It was a rough game,” Yeboah said. “It was ugly, but we were able to find a way, find an edge in the end. That’s what we do.”