The Stony Brook women’s basketball team may see a change in strategy on the offensive end of the court this season.
Led by senior guards Shania Johnson and Jerell Matthews, the 2017-18 Seawolves finished fourth in the America East with a record of 10-6 in conference play. Johnson and Matthews shined offensively by averaging 16 and 13.9 points per game respectively. It was especially impressive for Johnson, who is the shortest player in the conference, standing at 5’ 1”. Though the duo dominated offensively last season, the team’s scoring workload may be shifted to its taller players for their upcoming season.
“We have a four post rotation,” sophomore forward India Pagan said. “By just rotating our posts nobody is gonna be able to beat it.”
In the team’s first two games, Pagan has contributed to the team’s offensive rhythm at a more constant pace. The forward has put up nine and 10 points in Stony Brook’s two games thus far, a big improvement on her 5.9 points per game during last season.
Pagan spent the summer with the Puerto Rican national basketball team, something that has not only been an honor for her, but has also helped improve her game. After playing for the nation’s U-18 and U-20 teams, a spot in the full squad was certainly a special achievement.
It has been three years since the team’s top two in scoring were forwards, with Brittany Snow and Ogechi Anyagaligbo claiming the spots during the 2015-16 season. Since then, Snow graduated from Stony Brook and Anyagaligbo transferred to the University of Kentucky, shifting the offensive production to come from the team’s veteran guards.
Following the graduation of guard Aaliyah Worley in 2018, there is some competition to fill the hole she left in the starting lineup. Junior center Oksana Gouchie-Provencher stands out as a candidate to get starting time this upcoming season, already seeing her time on the court increase in the team’s games against Hofstra and Manhattan. Gouchie-Provencher has averaged 19 minutes in the first three games, recording eight points in the 79-48 victory over Manhattan on Saturday, Nov. 17.
Since being redshirted in the 2016-17 season, Gouchie-Provencher went on to make 25 appearances during the 2017-18 season. The 6’4” center has not been afraid to shoot the ball from outside the paint, even beyond the 3-point line.
“I have always said my teammate is my strongest competition, that’s where I get better in practice,” Gouchie-Provencher said. “Hopefully I am able to supply the rebound and the shooting I have worked on over the offseason and play that in the game.”
Although the team’s starting lineup is still to be determined, the style of play Stony Brook will run seems to be set in stone. With the roster filled with many tall, physical playing forwards, head coach Caroline McCombs intends to utilize their abilities to help her team win games.
“We want to defend, rebound, run and play together,” McCombs said. “Whoever that is, is something we’re trying to put together in this early stage in the game.”