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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

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Stony Brook men’s basketball to fight for Long Island supremacy over Hofstra

The Stony Brook men’s basketball team huddles during a timeout against Wagner on Dec. 3, 2023. The Seawolves will host the Hofstra Pride tomorrow night. STANLEY ZHENG/THE STATESMAN

After being swept in the Battle of Long Island last year, the Stony Brook men’s basketball team will be out for revenge this time around.

On national television, the Seawolves (9-9, 2-3 CAA) will host the Hofstra Pride (9-9, 2-3 CAA) at Island Federal Arena on Monday night. Opening tip-off is scheduled for 9 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network.

This has not been a competitive rivalry; Stony Brook is just 6-26 all-time against Hofstra. Last year featured a 21-point blowout in Hempstead, N.Y. before a much more interesting 68-65 game in which the Seawolves had the Pride on the ropes but could not finish strong. However, much has changed since.

Hofstra has been hurt by the loss of superstar point guard Aaron Estrada, who is now with Alabama for his fifth and final season. After splitting the regular-season championship with Charleston in 2022-23, the Pride now find themselves in the exact same spot in the standings as Stony Brook — last year’s 10th seed. As for the Seawolves, they are finally healthy, which has led to some improvement.

However, even at full health, Stony Brook cannot seem to cure itself of its multi-year curse: the inability to finish games. The Seawolves have lost three games in which they led by double-digit points to Wagner, Charleston and Delaware. At Towson, they had a chance to finish a comeback but went cold in overtime and ultimately lost. Even in the win over William & Mary, they blew an 11-point lead in the second half before point guard Aaron Clarke bailed them out with a game-winning three-pointer.

All of these foul-ups can be attributed to Stony Brook’s perimeter defense, which is one of the weakest ones in the Coastal Athletic Association (CAA). The team has allowed opponents to shoot 36.8% from deep this year, which is the second-worst figure in the conference. Overall, the Seawolves’ shot defense has been mediocre, ranking eighth out of the 14 teams in the league with a .436 opponent’s field goal percentage.

Small forward Tyler Stephenson-Moore, point guard Dean Noll and small forward Sabry Philip are Stony Brook’s best perimeter defenders. Noll has been the CAA’s steal leader for most of the year, averaging 1.8 per game. Stephenson-Moore and Clarke each average one per contest, as well. Philip is the team’s best transition defender and has been getting more playing time since conference play began, averaging 9.7 minutes over the last four games.

The Seawolves’ wings have their hands full on defense, as Hofstra loves to let it fly. The Pride’s .359 three-point percentage is the third-best rate in the conference, and their 523 attempts are the second most. Five of their players are shooting over 37% from deep while averaging over an attempt per game. Power forward Darlinstone Dubar leads the team with a .384 three-point shooting percentage on 112 attempts. Shooting guard Tyler Thomas leads the CAA with 192 three-point tries and has made 37.0% of them.

Other than those two, shooting guard KiJan Robinson — a three-point specialist off the bench — boasts a .378 three-point percentage on 45 tries. Small forwards German Plotnikov and Griffin Barrouk are both good floor-spacers from the reserve squad, with each shooting 40% from deep.

Thomas and Dubar have formed an unstoppable duo. Thomas is currently fourth in the nation in scoring (22.3 points per game), while Dubar is the CAA’s fifth-leading scorer (18.4 points per game). Thomas boasts a .410/.370/.863 shooting line, while Dubar owns a very efficient .528/.384/.729. Point guard Jaquan Carlos has been a very good third option for the Pride, averaging 10.6 points and a conference-leading 6.2 assists per game.

Behind its big three, Hofstra ranks fifth in the conference in points scored per game (75.6). Other than its elite jump-shooters, the team goes downhill effectively and gets plenty of high-percentage looks, netting it the fourth-highest field goal percentage (.463) in the CAA.

The Pride’s bigs are very dangerous inside, with starting center Jacco Fritz (6-foot-10) and his backup Silas Sunday (seven feet) shooting 66.7% and 67.9% from the field, respectively. Plotnikov (6-foot-6) is also shooting 50% overall. Small forward Bryce Washington is another solid downhill scorer, as he owns a .467 shooting percentage this year.

Part of the solution for Stony Brook potentially stopping the Pride will be the defensive performances of centers Chris Maidoh and Keenan Fitzmorris. The 6-foot-10 Maidoh is the team’s best defender with a 99.6 defensive rating and an average of a block and 1.1 steals per game. Fitzmorris — a 7-footer — leads the team with 1.1 blocks per game. With both of them ranking in the CAA’s top 10 in shots blocked per game, they will need to reject several Hofstra shots just to try and make them as one dimensional as possible.

Their rebounding will be key, too. With Maidoh, Fitzmorris and power forward Andre Snoddy roaming the paint, the Seawolves have become the CAA’s fifth-best rebounding team. Maidoh leads them with 6.3 rebounds per game, trailed by Snoddy’s 6.2. Fitzmorris is currently sixth in the league with 42 offensive boards.

Given Stony Brook’s offensive rebounding prowess, it may be able to get away with shooting the ball inefficiently. The Pride are a poor rebounding team, as they own the fourth-fewest rebounds per game (33.5) and rank seventh in defensive boards per contest (25.3). Their -3.3 rebounding margin per game is the second-worst rate in the CAA. The 6-foot-8 Dubar leads them with 7.4 rebounds per game, followed by Fritz’s 5.2 and Thomas’ 4.8.

Getting second chances from Fitzmorris and others will be key for the Seawolves, who are currently the fourth-worst scoring offense in the CAA (70.7 points per game). Stephenson-Moore is their top option, as he is eighth in the conference with 14.9 points per game on a .443/.396/.809 shooting line. Clarke is averaging 12.1 points per contest but is shooting just 36.4% from the field and 30.4% from deep. Fitzmorris is their third-leading scorer with 10.6 points per game on a .523/.333/.787 triple slash.

Maidoh has given them some offense down low, averaging 8.1 points on a .542 shooting percentage. Noll has turned his season around despite a poor game at Delaware and is averaging 9.2 points per game. Shooting guard Jared Frey is a good floor-spacer and leads the team with a .400 three-point percentage on 75 tries.

Frey and Stephenson-Moore will need to get Stony Brook back on track from deep. The team is just 10-for-50 (20%) on three-pointers over the last three games, dropping them to ninth in the league with a .333 team three-point percentage.

Similarly to the Seawolves, Hofstra does not defend the three-ball well, allowing the third-worst percentage from deep in the CAA (.353). That is not indicative of the Pride’s team defense, which ranks fifth in points allowed per game (71.4) and third in opponent’s field goal percentage (.424). Carlos, Dubar and Thomas all have over 20 steals this year. As a team they block the third-most shots per game (3.8) in the conference, led by Dubar 21 and Fritz (17).

If Stony Brook can exploit Hofstra’s poor rebounding and three-point defense, it may be able to win in a track meet. However, if the Seawolves’ defense continues to struggle against the Pride’s well-balanced offense, they will need to be almost perfect with the ball to earn the win.

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About the Contributor
Mike Anderson, Sports Editor
Mike Anderson is the Sports Editor at The Statesman. He is a senior majoring in journalism with aspirations of becoming a sports journalist. His love of sports comes from his time spent as a baseball player. As a reporter for The Statesman, he has covered baseball, softball, football, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s soccer, men's and women's lacrosse, women's volleyball and hockey. He has also interned at Axcess Sports as a high school and college baseball and softball reporter. He is a local product from Port Jefferson, N.Y. and is a diehard Mets, Jets, Nets and Islanders fan.
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