It has been an emotional whirlwind for the Stony Brook Men’s Basketball team over the last month. The Seawolves captured their first America East title on March 12, before playing in their first NCAA Tournament game five days later. Since then, former head coach Steve Pikiell and the rest of his coaching staff, excluding assistant coach Lamar Chapman, left Stony Brook to take positions at Rutgers.
Director of Athletics Shawn Heilbron introduced Jeff Boals as the team’s new head coach on Monday, starting a new chapter for Stony Brook Men’s Basketball as the team looks to add to its success.
“It really wasn’t that long ago that we were down on this floor celebrating that first America East Championship,” Heilbron said before Boals stepped to the podium. “That’s a feeling that we want to have again and again and again.”
Boals came to Stony Brook after serving as an assistant coach under Thad Matta at Ohio State. During his seven years in Columbus, Boals helped the Buckeyes reach the NCAA Tournament six times, including a 2012 Final Four appearance.
“One thing he told me to do is ‘Don’t ever leave here for a bad job’,” Boals said, remembering the advice that Matta gave him. “When I was going through the process the last few years and some jobs that opened, you know, I knew that wasn’t the place where I wanted to go and when I first got the phone call from Shawn, I was really excited.”
The two-time captain at Ohio, from which he graduated in 1995, will now take over a team that has won at least 22 games in every campaign since the 2011-2012 season. After falling in four of the previous five conference title matchups, Stony Brook broke through in March for the first time in a 80-74 victory over Vermont.
To get back to that moment, recruits will be a major key. Michael Almonacy, a guard at Brentwood High School, and Andrew Garcia, a guard at the Master’s School in Connecticut, each signed letters of intent to play for Stony Brook next season when Pikiell was the head coach. Boals said that he has spoken to Almonacy, who reaffirmed his commitment to Stony Brook. The new head coach said he is in the process of reaching out to Garcia, who he also hopes to have on the team next season.
As far as the team’s coaching situation goes, Boals said that although there is nothing official, he does have a few people in mind to help him move forward with the program. But he emphasized that to him, the most important thing was to focus on the Seawolves who sat right in front of him in Island Federal Credit Union Arena.
“First and foremost I want to be here for these guys,” Boals said. “These young men right here went through a tough two-week stretch you know, so to build the trust on my end and their end is going to be very important.”
Boals met with his new team for the first time for about 15 minutes on Sunday night, which gave both him and the team a fresh start.
“It’s been a couple weeks without a coach, especially like how it went down right after we won, it was kind of weird,” sophomore guard Deshaun Thrower said. “He seems like a real good person. He wants us to play hard and all of us play hard. We all just have a good connection with him so far.”