This past spring, the college basketball world went through its annual dance of top NBA prospects deciding where they would play their one year of college ball. Big names like Wiggins, Randle and Parker all decided where they would spend their one year of NBA ineligibility coming out of high school.
Stony Brook is not one of those programs that vied for these one year wonders, as they lack the recruiting power of a school like Kansas, Kentucky or Duke. Instead, Stony Brook builds its program on developing recruits over four years at the school. Perhaps their best success in development is of senior guard Dave Coley.
Coley, a 6-foot-2-inch guard, was not a highly recruited player out of high school. He was seen as a defensive specialist type player, one to stop the opponent’s offense instead of creating his own. Yet, over his four years here, Coley has become a complete player. In his freshman year, Coley played in 29 games, logging 560 minutes and averaging 6.5 points per game on .317 shooting. He was second on the team in steals with 29. However, in his sophomore year, he made the leap to the next level. He started 27 games out of 32 appearances, averaging 10 points per game.
The real jump, however, was in his efficiency, boosting his field goal percentage to 40.9 percent. Throughout this time, he remained the great defensive player he was recruited to be. He became a great all around player as his game developed. “My overall IQ of the game, you know, since coming out of high school, being here helped me see better, helped me learn the geometry of the floor, the aspects of how to score. I think that’s the most I’ve developed,” Coley said
It was not easy, of course, to get to this point. Coley acknowledges that it took a lot of work to get where he is today, saying “Just putting in the time, you know. You put the time in you get the outcome that you want. Defending is one of my strong keys, I like defending. Also, offensive too, you know, I put the time in, the nights in the gym to the early mornings in the gym to working out every day. I think if you just put the time in, if you put the time in to achieve your goals, you really do,” he said.
As the defensive leader of the Seawolves, Coley has some tough matchups ahead of him this year, facing NCAA tournament teams like Indiana, VCU and Vermont. However, matchups do not play big in Coley’s mind. “Whatever team we play, whoever their best player on the perimeter is, you know, that’s who I’m assigned to, that’s my matchup,” he said. Coley can rattle off a list of what makes him a good defender. “My tenacity to defend, the energy I provide, my quickness. I’m not that big but I’m not that small, knowing the geometry of the floor, toughness.”
Coley has been an integral part of this team for these last three years, playing in many crucial games. “My favorite memory as a Seawolf? Beating UMass, me and my backcourt partner A.J. had a terrific game, 20 a piece. Jameel Warney had a great game, you know our rookie of the year last year,” he said, referring to last years NIT win over UMass, Stony Brook’s first postseason win in its history.
This year, Coley is one of the three captains coach Steve Pikiell has named for the team. For someone who has come through this program and developed into what he is, he now plays the reverse role, becoming a mentor for the younger players. “Do whatever I got to do to help my team win the game, to win as much games as possible. We got a new team, different guys, new dynamic of our team. Doing whatever I got to do to help my team win,” he said of his new role.
He also spoke of how he mentors the younger players. “Just talking to them. When I was a freshman, a lot of guys talked to me, showed me the program and paved the way for me, allowing us to go and win games. A lot of young guys, we got a lot of talent. They’re really good, they don’t know the system yet, what we’re trying to do. Talking to them in practice, coming in with the tenacity, coming in with the energy, fired up, ready to practice, its a great thing for them because that was something I was able to do as a freshman,” Coley said.
Coley has won numerous accolades, such as third team All-America East and All-Defensive America East selections. He was selected as a preseason All-America East team member, not that it matters to him. He has a single focus, one he has always had.
“Goals are to get to the NCAA tournament, something I’ve never done. Individual accolades that come, I’m not really concerned with that, that’s not a main priority for me. My goal is to come out and do everything I can to help my team win. Most important is to get to the NCAA tournament, that’s like a dream come true, something I will remember and to be a part of that would be exceptional. That’s one of my main goals. I haven’t achieved anything. I haven’t achieved anything because I haven’t been to the NCAA tournament. That’s the achievement I want to accomplish as a basketball player. I don’t care about the individual accolades. That’s not a concern of mine, that’s not a motive of mine, and, you know, I haven’t done anything,” Coley said.
If Coley does achieve his goal this year, it will be at least partially because of his contributions to the team this year, as a leader, a defender and a developed offensive weapon.