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Stony Brook men’s basketball shoots for third in a row at Campbell

The Stony Brook men’s basketball team takes a break during a timeout against Monmouth on Jan. 25. The Seawolves will take on the Campbell Camels tomorrow in North Carolina. IRENE YIMMONGKOL/THE STATESMAN

Coming off back-to-back wins, the Stony Brook men’s basketball team will look to sweep its trip to North Carolina against the Coastal Athletic Association’s (CAA) newest member.

The Seawolves (13-11, 6-5 CAA) will take on the Campbell Camels (11-13, 5-6 CAA) on Saturday at 2 p.m. It will be the first-ever meeting between the two programs. With both teams currently around the middle of the pack in the conference standings, a loss on either side could mean slipping to the lower tier.

The Camels find most of their success guarding the basket, as they boast the third-best scoring defense in the CAA at 68.4 points allowed per game. They have been able to survive despite being one of the smallest teams in the conference, especially on the frontcourt. Center Laurynas Vaistaras and power forward Anthony Dell’Orso are both just 6-foot-6.

On the wing, Campbell’s size is more adequate and traditional by modern standards. Small forward Elijah Walsh is 6-foot-5, shooting guard Gediminas Mokseckas is 6-foot-4 and point guard Jasin Sinani is 6-foot-3, which make them all taller than their matchups on the Seawolves’ roster. However, the Camels go 11 deep and throw a lot of different looks at their opponents and their reserves are not much taller.

On the backcourt off the bench, Campbell point guard Broc Bidwell is 6-feet tall, while fellow point guard Omar Harris is 6-foot-3. Shooting guard Tasos Cook is just 6-foot-2 and small forward Mason Grant is 6-foot-5. Power forward Colby Duggan is 6-foot-7, but he is more of a stretch four and does not get involved in the paint. Center Alex Kotov is 6-foot-10, but he has only started one game and averages only 14.7 minutes per appearance.

Whatever the Camels lose in height, they make up for in active hands, aggressiveness and athleticism. As a team, they co-lead the CAA alongside Monmouth with 12.4 forced turnovers per game. They are tied with Stony Brook for the second-most steals per game (6.5) in the conference.

Dell’Orso anchors the team’s defense and is in a three-way tie for the third-most steals per game (1.5) in the CAA. Vaistaras is not far behind him with 1.3 steals per game. Walsh is third on the team with 22 steals, putting him just shy of one per game.

Campbell’s defenders all do a good job limiting good looks. Opponents are shooting just 43.2% from the field and 32.4% from deep against it — the sixth and fourth-best marks in the CAA, respectively.

Naturally, the Camels’ height has limited it in protecting the rim. Their 2.5 blocks per game are the second-fewest in the CAA. Kotov leads them with 13 blocks, while Mason trails him with 12 rejections and leads the team with 0.6 per game. Dell’Orso has swatted 10 shots.

Campbell’s lack of interior defense will be a weakness against Stony Brook. Guarding the Seawolves’ center duo of 6-foot-10 Chris Maidoh and 7-foot Keenan Fitzmorris will pose a challenge, and denying entry passes to the bigs will be key to avoid being taken advantage of. 

Fitzmorris is the bigger scoring threat of the two, averaging 10.5 points per game on a .500/.333/.793 shooting line. Maidoh is a defense-first player, but he has been reliable on offense, averaging 7.2 points per game while shooting 51.9% from the field.

The Seawolves boast a top-10 scoring duo that they will look towards to break through the Camels’ defense: small forward Tyler Stephenson-Moore and point guard Aaron Clarke. Stephenson-Moore’s team-leading 15.1 points per game rank eighth in the CAA. Clarke has been on a hot streak over his last five games, averaging 18.6 points per game over that span. He is now 10th in the conference with 13.7 points per contest.

Having healthy weapons around Stephenson-Moore has greatly helped his shooting line. After struggling last year, he has shot .432/.398/.817 this year due to the presence of Clarke and others. As for Clarke, he has been up and down with his shot, but his five-game heater has seen his triple slash improve to .402/.347/.791. He also leads the team with 2.3 assists per game.

Stony Brook’s third scoring-option has flip-flopped between point guard Dean Noll and Fitzmorris. On the season, Noll is the team’s fourth-leading scorer at 10.3 points per game but he has taken on a bigger load recently. Over his last six games, Noll has averaged 13.8 points per contest on a .443/.385/.900 clip. He has also become the team leader in assists with 52.

Other than their four double-digit point scorers, the Seawolves have shooting guard Jared Frey looking to get back on track. Frey is a good three-point shooter and has made 37.4% of his tries from deep this year, but he went 0-for-5 in the last game at Elon. Behind Stephenson-Moore, Frey, Noll and Clarke’s three-point efforts, the team has made 34.2% of its shots from deep — the sixth-best rate in the conference.

Stony Brook’s offense slightly edges out Campbell’s in scoring, ranking 10th in the CAA with 71.4 points per game compared. The Camels are just 12th — or third-worst — with 68.6 points per contest.

Much of Campbell’s low scoring can be attributed to its slow pace of play, which is done by design to limit its undersized defense’s exposure. The Camels rank dead last in the CAA in field goals attempted per game (53.0), while the Seawolves are third (60.1).

However, Campbell is much better than its low rankings suggest. The Camels make shots at the fourth-highest rate from the field (45.9%) in the conference. Conversely, Stony Brook’s .427 field goal percentage is the fourth worst.

Dell’Orso also leads the charge on Campbell’s offense. He is the seventh-leading scorer in the CAA at 18.0 points per game on a .465/.345/.808 shooting line.

Outside of Dell’Orso, the Camels share a balanced scoring load. Vaistaras is the team’s second-leading scorer at 10.7 points per game on a .554/.417/.717 triple slash. Vaistaras is also the team’s primary facilitator, as he leads it with three dimes per game and owns a 2.3 assist to turnover ratio — the third-best figure in the CAA.

Sinani is their third-leading scorer at 9.2 points per game while shooting at a .468/.373/.891 clip. He is also second on the team with 2.3 assists per game. Walsh is fourth on the team with an average of 7.9 points while shooting 45.6% from the field and 73.8% from the free-throw line.

Off the bench, Mason and Cook are good finishers at the rim, as they own field goal percentages of .500 and .471, respectively. Duggan is a good three-point shooter, as he has made 33.3% of his 51 tries while Bidwell has hit on 36.8% of his 19 attempts.

The Seawolves have the seventh-best scoring defense in the league, allowing 71.4 points per game. Opponents are shooting just 42.6% against them this year, which is the fourth-best rate in the CAA. They have made plays on the ball all year, averaging the second-most steals (6.5) and the sixth-most blocks (3.2) per game. Noll leads the conference with 41 steals and an average of 1.7 per game, while Stephenson-Moore is averaging a career-high 1.1 swipes per contest.

Down low, Fitzmorris leads the squad with 25 blocks, placing him in a tie for eighth in the CAA. Maidoh has been the team’s defensive anchor, as he leads the team in steals plus blocks (43) and has the best defensive rating (99.0) on the roster. Their presence around the rim should help Stony Brook limit the backdoor cuts from Campbell’s wings, as the Princeton-style offense tends to generate a lot of those.

It would also be beneficial for the Seawolves to force the Camels to keep the ball on the perimeter, as they shoot the fourth-lowest percentage from deep (32.7%) in the CAA. This may be difficult for Stony Brook, who allow opponents to shoot 35.4% from beyond the arc — the second-worst mark in the conference.

However, with small forward Sabry Philip back in the mix, the Seawolves have been much better defending the three-ball. They have held opponents to just 30.4% from three-point range over the last five games, much in part to Philip’s aggressiveness on the wing. Mixing his perimeter defense with the performances of Noll and Stephenson-Moore, Stony Brook has all of a sudden become one of the more complete defenses in the conference.

What rounds the Seawolves’ defense out is their rebounding. They average 36.5 boards per game, the fifth most in the CAA. Power forward Andre Snoddy leads the effort with 7.1 rebounds per contest, which rank seventh in the conference. Maidoh is second on the team with 6.0 boards per night, followed by Fitzmorris’ 4.3.

Stony Brook greatly outmatches Campbell’s 32.3 rebounds per game, which are the second-fewest in the CAA. Dell’Orso leads his team with 6.3 boards per contest, followed by Vaistaras’ 4.1 and Sinani’s 4.0.

Though the Seawolves own the height, rebounding and jump-shooting advantages, the Camels athleticism, efficiency and hard-nosed defense make this a fair fight. Given Stony Brook’s 4-8 road record and Campbell’s 8-5 home record, this one will not be easy to win.

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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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