By Andrew Eichenholz and David Vertsberger
With the semester starting up again comes the return of our weekly basketball column, “Points in the Paint,” in which four points of interest about Stony Brook hoops action are analyzed. This week we recap four things involving the SBU basketball teams that you may have missed over winter break.
Point #1: Stony Brook men’s basketball closed out 2014 with a bang with an upset win over No. 13 Washington
In what could easily be considered the biggest win in program history, Stony Brook upstaged the then-No. 13 Washington Huskies in Seattle, 62-57, just before the calendar flipped to 2015.
The win came at the heels of a furious comeback led by the unlikeliest of heroes.
Kameron Mitchell, who had lost his spot in the starting lineup just ten days prior, buried four threes in the second half.
Carson Puriefoy only made one of his first 11 field goal attempts, but scored the game-tying three in crunch time.
Redshirt freshman Roland L’Amour Nyama came up with a huge steal to give the Seawolves a chance at taking the lead, which junior Jameel Warney seized.
SBU was down ten with 6:39 remaining when the comeback started, but the team’s defense was impeccable throughout the contest.
For the game, the Huskies were held to a measly 34.3 percent shooting clip despite coming into the contest with an undefeated record and far superior athleticism.
Warney finished with a team-high 15 points and Rayshaun McGrew added a double-double with 10 points and 14 rebounds.
Stony Brook’s win landed the mid-major team a feature on Sportscenter and proved that at their best, the Seawolves could beat just about any school in the country.
Point #2: Stony Brook women’s basketball finds itself in middle of the pack after early conference action
Last season, Seawolves fans returned from winter break to see that not the usual one, but two basketball teams were in strong contention for the America East crown.
After seasons of four wins and 14 wins, former women’s Head Coach Beth O’Boyle had her team right up there with Albany in the conference standings as students moved back into their dorms.
This season under new leadership and minus a couple of solid players, the Seawolves have a new battle to fight.
It is no longer about trying to earn the top seed for the tournament, but competing to find their identity in time to try to spring a surprise come tournament time.
Entering their game Sunday at Island Federal Credit Union Arena, Stony Brook was in fifth place in the America East conference, fighting to regain their status toward the top of the league.
Last season, it was about fighting to keep up with Albany and push past their nearest rival, New Hampshire. This year, it seems as if those two teams are in a league of their own.
As always, the team is not one-dimensional offensively, but something will need to start clicking.
Last season, six games into conference play, the Seawolves had scored over 80 points twice. This go-around, their high is 67 points.
Point #3: Role players have been exuding confidence for SBU’s men’s team
Coming into the season, there was plenty reason to expect Warney and Puriefoy to lead the show for Stony Brook while the rest of the squad merely tried to fit in.
The Seawolves are one of the most inexperienced teams in the country, being one of the 30 youngest teams in the nation and with five rotation players being freshmen.
Yet, as non-conference play reached its final stages and conference play began, it has been Stony Brook’s role players that have impressed most with their consistency, effort and composure.
McGrew, who emerged late last season as a rotation player, has been as perfect a third wheel as could be expected from Head Coach Steve Pikiell.
McGrew has scored in double-digits in six of Stony Brook’s last eight games and is averaging a modest 9.5 points and 7.7 rebounds on 47.1 percent shooting.
His baseline jumper is near automatic, he has been a way better high-low distributor than expected and he is calm and collected in everything he does on the court.
Playing under control was an issue for Nyama early on, but no longer is.
Nyama has mastered using his energy and athleticism without being overzealous, and it has produced tremendous results.
Nyama has been everywhere defensively and is connecting on 36.4 percent of his three-point tries, which is invaluable to this team.
His rebounding has slumped down a bit, but SBU needed him to crash the boards more against bigger non-conference opponents.
Nyama’s play could be pivotal come the postseason.
The bench unit has also been commendable, with Bryan Sekunda continually shooting with confidence, Tyrell Sturdivant dominating inside and Thrower showing promising glimpses.
Mitchell has perhaps seen the biggest improvement, with a fresh aura of confidence in his game ever since his huge night in Washington.
A month ago, Mitchell was not ball-faking his way to the rim or playing sound defense, but plenty has changed for these Seawolves as they have advanced into conference play.
Point #4: SBU women’s basketball showed plenty of fight in its recent matchup against rival Albany
In nearly every sport, the biggest obstacle for the Seawolves is their in-state rival, Albany.
Last year, that competition flared up during the women’s basketball season, as the dominant Great Danes faced a stiff test in conference for the first time in a long time.
Surprise, surprise. The problem was coming out of Long Island.
Stony Brook ended Albany’s 38-game winning streak in the America East at the end of the regular season before falling in the conference championship game.
This season with the Seawolves not as sharp early on in the season, it was unclear how tough they could hang with the Great Danes.
When they were down 20 points late in the game, it looked as if they had a while to go before they could challenge the best team in the league again.
However, they fought, and with the help of the three-point ball, got to within seven points in the waning minutes.
This occurred despite Sabre Proctor not connecting on a field goal in 29 minutes and committing seven turnovers.
Sophomore Christa Scognamiglio led the team with 19 points and senior Jessica Ogunnorin chimed in with 16.
It ended up not being enough, but it showed that even against the best, the Seawolves are willing to put up a fight.