Coming into this year’s season, the Stony Brook men’s basketball team had already lost four star-players to graduation: All-time points leader and guard Bryan Dougher and forwards Danny Carter, Dallis Joyner and Al Rapier were all recruited to play overseas. At the start of the season, everyone including head coach Steve Pikell was worried about the team’s relative lack of experience and talent. “We lost 4 pros, so I was real nervous,” Pikell said. Despite the loss of four pros, this year’s team has had a tremendous season.
The Seawolves won 24 games, went 14-2 in league play and were ranked top 20 in every mid-major poll. In addition to all this, the Seawolves also went on to win another regular season title. “This has been the best year in Stony Brook basketball history,” Pikell said.
After such a great season, the Seawolves entered the America East tournament as the favorite and were projected to earn the school’s first ever NCAA Tournament bid. The Seawolves started the tournament off with a convincing win over the Binghamton Bearcats. However, in the next round, they experienced a heartbreaking loss to the Albany Great Danes. The loss hurt their chances of making it into the NCAA Tournament for the first time in the school’s history. Nevertheless, the team earned a bid in the NIT for the second year in a row. Although the team did not reach their goal of playing in the NCAA Tournament, Coach Pikell is excited to continue post-season play. “The field for the NIT is very comparable to the NCAA field with 11 league champions being in the tournament,” Pikell said.
The Seawolves are scheduled to play the University of Massachusetts Minutemen on March 20. They face the tough task of stopping the number one point guard in the A-10, Chazz Williams. Williams is averaging 15.9 points a game and 7.4 assists, and has the uncanny ability not only to get his teammates involved, but also to score in bunches. Williams collected his season high of 28 points in the Minutemen’s quarterfinal win over Temple in the A-10 tournament.
Pikell and his staff believe that their defense is more than ready to hold off Williams and the Minutemen. “We’re the third best defense in the country,” Pikell said. “It will be our really good defense against a really good offensive team.”
The showdown will take place tonight at 7:15 p.m. ET.