Head Coach Geno Ford at a Stony Brook University Men’s Basketball game. The team was picked to finish third in the America East on Thursday, Oct. 17 in the conference’s annual preseason poll. COURTESY OF STONY BROOK UNIVERSITY

A year after finishing 24-7 in the regular season, the Stony Brook men’s basketball team was picked to finish third in the America East on Thursday, Oct. 17 in the conference’s annual preseason poll. Voted on by the schools’ coaches, the Vermont Catamounts were unanimously selected in first place after winning both the regular season championship and the conference tournament to reach their seventh NCAA Tournament in program history.

Stony Brook was projected behind both Vermont, who received eight first-place votes, and second-place UMBC, who received the lone other first-place placement. With 48 points, the Seawolves barely edged out long-time rival Albany, who were picked to finish in fourth with 47 points.

UMass Lowell, Binghamton, Hartford, Maine and New Hampshire make up the poll’s fifth to ninth spots in that order with the Bearcats and Hawks tying for sixth.

The Seawolves return a number of key players from last year’s squad which finished in second place in the America East. Junior center Jeff Otchere won Defensive Player of the Year after recording the 16th most blocks and blocks per game across all Division I players in the country with 78 and 2.36 respectively. Redshirt-junior guard/forward Andrew Garcia was named Sixth Man of the Year, averaging 9.4 points and 5.1 rebounds off the bench and playing 21.7 minutes per game in 33 appearances and two starts.

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The talent retained will look to offset the losses the team suffered, including head coach Jeff Boals, who left in the middle of his contract to take the same position at his alma mater Ohio and First-Team All-Conference selection Akwasi Yeboah, who transferred to Rutgers after leading the Seawolves with 16.7 points per game and 7.7 rebounds per game in 2018-19.

Taking over for Boals is Geno Ford, who was named interim head coach during the team’s game against South Florida in the College Basketball Invitational (CBI) before being promoted to head coach on March 26, the program’s fourth in Division I history. Ford previously led Kent State and Bradley before being named to Boals’ staff as an assistant in 2016.

The Seawolves open their season at home against the Yale Bulldogs on Wednesday, Nov. 5 at 7:00 p.m. 

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