Redshirt sophomore forward Frankie Policelli taking a free throw during practice. Policelli averaged 10.7 points per game for the Stony Brook men’s basketball team last season. JOCELYN CRUZ/THE STATESMAN

Caught in the middle of another offseason roster reupholstering, redshirt-sophomore forward Frankie Policelli is back for his third season on the Stony Brook men’s basketball team, this time with the highest expectations yet. The Seawolves were picked to win the America East in the conference’s preseason poll, but Policelli showed just how nonchalantly they are handling the spotlight.

“I mean, it feels good that people think so highly of us,” Policelli said in an interview with The Statesman. “But at the end of the day, we still have to work hard and still reach our goal as a team.”

He believes the biggest challenge — Stony Brook’s ultimate goal of getting all the new players on the same page — has not been too difficult yet.

“It’s been actually pretty easy to gel with them,” Policelli said. “It took a couple of weeks for us all to get to learn each other’s game. But I love playing with them … They’re all really good players. They make it easier for me. The chemistry hasn’t been too much of an issue … We’ve practiced together, but now we’ve got to play games together, so it’s a little different. We’ll get it all figured out very soon here.”

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This is not the first time Policelli has seen the Stony Brook roster massively change. He made his Seawolves debut during the unorthodox, empty-stadium 2020-21 season, tasked with playing a larger role than initially expected when the entire starting five transferred out. However, the pandemic did not affect his performance, as Policelli averaged 10.7 points per game and 4.3 rebounds per game while showing flashes of brilliance.

First and foremost, he is a talented shooter. He shot 84.5% from the free-throw line and had spouts of flat-out dominance from beyond the 3-point line last season as well. In a Dec. 27 win over UMass Lowell, he drained four 3-pointers in the first half.

When asked about what he worked on this past offseason to get better for this year, Policelli spoke about further improving his shooting.

“I just tried to get healthy,” Policelli said. “Mostly I’ve been working on my shot, trying to make it more quick and efficient. I’m trying to shoot over 40% from three this year, so I need to be more efficient. I’ve also tried to improve my lateral quickness to get better on the defensive end.”

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Policelli was right about needing to improve his efficiency. Though he proved the ability to make a 3-pointer at this level, he missed frequently as well. After beginning the season 24-for-56 from deep (42.8%), he fell into a 4-for-31 (12.9%) slump and finished with a 31.9% 3-point percentage. The overall number was not impressive, but his initial hot streak showed his impressive potential.

“I had a leg injury, so that kind of stopped me from moving the way I wanted to move,” Policelli said about why he fell into a slump. “Also, the opposing defenses kind of hugged up on me, so I had less space to shoot. I think it was a mixture of those things coming together.”

Policelli has enjoyed his time here playing for Stony Brook under head coach Geno Ford. He gave a short reflection on his Seawolves career thus far.

“It’s been great. I love it here,” Policelli said. “The coaching staff accepted me with open arms. I feel super comfortable here. It’s everything I wanted.”

It is still unclear what Policelli’s exact role will be this season. He is one of the tallest players on a relatively small team, but did not start in Stony Brook’s season opener against George Mason. Coming off the bench, he played 14 minutes after averaging 27.2 minutes per game last season.

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“I’m pretty sure Geno is still experimenting with things, but coming off the bench doesn’t really matter to me,” Policelli said. “Whatever way I could help the team win, I’ll do it … I think we’ll have multiple starting lineups for this year.” 

Of all the things about this upcoming season, the one thing that Policelli is most excited about is the fact that it will be his first full-length season with Stony Brook.

“Last year was cut short, and I redshirted [the year before], so this is my first real season. I’m just excited to play all 32 games,” he said.

Policelli came to Stony Brook in 2019 from the Dayton Flyers. He played on a team that starred future top-10 New York Knicks draft pick Obi Toppin, but played in only 4.8 minutes per game, causing him to return to his home state. He went to Long Island Lutheran High School (LuHi), adding an element of familiarity when he came to Stony Brook.

Accompanied by several new pieces that will draw the attention of opposing defenses away from him, Stony Brook’s star-studded transfer wave can not only make the team better, but set up Policelli for a breakout year. He has already put in a lot of work getting his leg right and improving his already-solid shot. Now is the time for him to help guide the Seawolves to their first March Madness appearance since 2016.

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