BUFFALO - On one sequence, David Coley used a hesitation dribble to dart past a defender, spin to the basket and convert the layup. Later in the same game, the 6-2 guard pulled up for a deep three that put the Long Island open men's basketball team ahead for good, capping an impressive comeback in a victory over New York City on Friday.
It's this combination of skill and athleticism that has the Stony Brook University basketball staff salivating, as Coley, a city kid from Thomas Jefferson High School who once was a Big East-caliber prospect, is playing his college ball in the suburbs. "I'll bring them some production right away," Coley said, confidently. "My strongest asset is that I can break my man down off the dribble. That's what I love to do late in the shot clock. But I can shoot the three."
Coley had four treys in Friday's victory over the City, in which L.I. overcame a 15-point halftime deficit. His entire Empire State Games experience is being closely chronicled by Stony Brook because the coach for the L.I. open team is Dan Rickard, a Seawolves assistant who helped recruit Coley.
"He's aggressive and tough. He gets after it. That's what we like," Rickard said. "He's a combo guard who wants to score. Getting [New York] City kids is a little different for us."
Coley might never have found his way to Suffolk County but for a knee injury that caused him to miss nearly all of his junior year. "When he was younger, he was highly, highly recruited," Rickard said. "Some teams backed off after that, but we saw him play that summer and we liked him a lot. He signed his national letter of intent last November."
Coley said a major reason he chose the Seawolves, fresh off an exhilarating season in which they wound up hosting an NIT game against Illinois of the Big 10, is because "They showed a great interest in me and they stuck by me. The players, the coaches, the staff - everyone treated me great. I liked the campus but my mother really loved it. She said she wanted to go there, too!"
With shooting guard Muhammad El-Amin and his 19 points a game gone, Rickard acknowledged, "There's a void that has to be filled," and said Coley has a chance to have an impact as a freshman, "if he gets more consistent."
Coley agreed with that assessment. "As I mature, I think I'll get better and fit right in," he said. "I like their style of play. El-Amin was a great player but I think I can start filling his shoes. It'll be like he never left."
He was well aware that Stony Brook hosted an NIT game for the first time in school history last March, but is driven to guide the Seawolves to a place they've never been - the NCAA Tournament. "This is where I can expose my talents," Coley said. "I'll keep Stony Brook buzzing. The main goal is to make it to the Big Dance."
The new kid has some flashy steps.