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The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


Stony Brook men’s basketball hopes to spoil Policelli’s return

Several Stony Brook men’s basketball players celebrate a big shot against Norfolk State on Dec. 13. The Seawolves will host the College of Charleston for their second conference game of the year tomorrow. BRITTNEY DIETZ/THE STATESMAN

With a familiar face coming to town, the Stony Brook men’s basketball team will hope to upset the defending Coastal Athletic Association (CAA) champions.

The Seawolves (8-6, 1-0 CAA) will meet the Charleston Cougars (10-4, 1-0 CAA) for the first time since being sent home by them last March. Looking to extend its winning streak to three games, Stony Brook will play host to Charleston at Island Federal Arena on Saturday, with opening tip-off scheduled for 6:31 p.m.

The game will also mark the return of power forward Frankie Policelli, who spent the last four seasons with the Seawolves before transferring this past offseason. As a former fan favorite, Policelli is likely to hear some applause from the home crowd on Saturday night.

Last year, the two teams faced off twice, and the Cougars dominated both matchups. The first meeting took place in the regular season finale, with the Seawolves suffering their worst defeat in over 17 years.

Much like last season, Charleston does not have a clear-cut best player. A combination of weapons suits its team-oriented style of play, and many guys are a threat to dominate on any given night.

The Cougars have three players north of 10 points per game this season, with power forward Ben Burnham (13.1) leading the way. He is shooting 46.3% from the field and 36.2% from three-point range this year.

Burnham will share the frontcourt with center Ante Brzovic. The 2022-23 All-CAA Third Team selection is having a down year, but the 6-foot-10 big man is still a dangerous presence in the paint. He averages 10.4 points per game. He has been pushed for playing time by James Scott: a 6-foot-11 freshman center who has knocked down 80% (36-for-45) of his field goals this year.

Feeding the ball to the bigs will be point guard C.J. Fulton, who leads the CAA in assist-to-turnover ratio (3.8) while also dishing out the conference’s third-most dimes per game (4.3). Stony Brook’s middle-of-the-road defense will have to deny entry passes to the bigs to eliminate easy finishes around the basket, but Charleston is also dangerous on the perimeter.

Shooting guard Reyne Smith is one of the most dangerous threats from deep that the CAA has to offer. Smith is shooting 38.1% from deep this season on 105 attempts, which puts him fourth in the conference among qualified players. He is the team’s second-leading scorer with 11.8 points per contest.

Shooting guard Jordan Crawford and small forward Bryce Butler are also good three-point shooters. Crawford has made 36.1% of his shots from deep, while Butler is shooting threes at a 35% clip. Three-pointers have always been Policelli’s specialty, and he is currently second on the team with 25 makes from downtown. However, he is only shooting 31.3% from beyond the arc this year.

These shooters will test the limits of the Seawolves’ poor shot defense, as opposing teams have shot 36.1% from deep against them this season, which is the third-worst mark in the CAA. Luckily for Stony Brook, the rest of the Cougars have not spaced the floor well. Despite Smith, Crawford and Butler’s efforts, they are the fifth-worst three-point shooting team in the conference with a .311 three-point percentage.

Rounding out the Cougars’ deep offense is shooting guard Kobe Rodgers — a physical wing who has started nine games for them and is shooting just under 45% from the field.

Though Charleston is fourth in the conference in scoring offense, it is around league average on defense. The Cougars have allowed 73.6 points per game this season, which ranks eighth in the CAA, just one slot behind Stony Brook’s 71.6.

The Seawolves will look to their veterans to put points on the board. Small forward Tyler Stephenson-Moore is their leading-scorer with 15.1 points per game — the eighth-best mark in the conference. His 44.9% percentage from deep leads the CAA, and he will look to contest Charleston’s fifth-best three-point defense.

Point guard Aaron Clarke is their second-leading scorer at 12.1 points per game on 37.7% shooting from the field and 34.5% from three. His 2.2 assists per game are only bested by shooting guard Jared Frey’s 2.7. Frey is the team’s second-best three-point shooter, as he is knocking down 41.2% of his shots from beyond the arc. The two will orchestrate the offense and attempt to find opportunities for teammates against Charleston’s average defense. 

Point guard Dean Noll will most likely start next to Clarke as he has all season, but he is mired in an ugly shooting slump. His defense will be important on the perimeter as he leads the CAA with exactly two steals per game, but his 5.8 points on 25.8% shooting undo much of that effort. He shot 0-for-8 against Northeastern on Thursday.

Center Keenan Fitzmorris is the team’s third-leading scorer at 10.9 points per game on a .525/.400/.792 triple slash. He has shone since being slotted into the starting lineup next to center Chris Maidoh, averaging 13.6 points per game on 52.4% shooting in the span. The two form a strong duo, as Maidoh is both the team’s best defender (16 blocks, 12 steals, 98.7 defensive rating) and an effective inside scorer (8.1 points on 54.3% shooting).

The Cougars have the edge on the boards, pulling down 40.1 rebounds per game, which bests the Seawolves’ 37.2. Charleston is second in both offensive (13.1) and defensive (27) rebounds per game.

It is a gang effort on the glass for the Cougars, who have five guys average over four rebounds per game. Brzovic leads the group in rebounds per contest (six), followed by Rodgers (5.3), Burnham (4.8), Policelli (4.8) and Butler (four).

Fitzmorris, Maidoh and power forward Andre Snoddy will be key in limiting second chances for the lethal Charleston offense. Maidoh narrowly leads the team with 6.1 rebounds per game, followed by Snoddy’s six. Fitzmorris averages 4.6 boards per contest, but most of them come on the offensive glass.

Though the Cougars are still dangerous with the ball in their hands, their leaky defense prevents them from being the powerhouse they were a season ago. With Stony Brook hosting, this game may be tighter than past meetings.

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About the Contributor
Kenny Spurrell, Assistant Sports Editor
Kenny Spurrell is an Assistant Sports Editor of The Statesman. He is a senior English major and journalism minor at Stony Brook University. He began covering sports for The Statesman during the Fall 2021 semester. Since then, he has covered men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s lacrosse and football. His passion for sports derives from his many years of playing basketball, football and baseball. He is a Long Island native from Selden, N.Y. and has dreams of becoming a sports journalist.
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