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The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

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Stony Brook men’s basketball to face Drexel in CAA quarterfinal

Several Stony Brook men’s basketball players celebrate a play against Delaware on Saturday, March 2. The Seawolves will play Drexel in the quarterfinals of the postseason tournament tomorrow evening. ANGELINA LIVIGNI/THE STATESMAN

Now in the quarterfinals of the 2024 Coastal Athletic Association (CAA) tournament, the seventh-seeded Stony Brook men’s basketball team has a tough challenge ahead.

Following a victory over 10th-seeded Northeastern, the Seawolves (18-14, 10-8 CAA) will battle the second-seeded Drexel Dragons (20-11, 13-5 CAA) on Sunday evening at the Entertainment & Sports Arena in Washington, D.C. Opening tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m.

Stony Brook faced Drexel on Feb. 29 in Philadelphia and suffered a narrow 90-86 loss. This time around, the Seawolves are playing for the second night in a row while the Dragons are coming off a double-bye and have not taken the court since March 2.

On paper, Drexel’s offense is rather average by CAA standards, as it ranks eighth with 72.8 points per game. However, much of that is due to its slow-paced style of play, as it has attempted the fourth-fewest field goals per game (58.4) in the conference. The Dragons are very efficient, as their .458 field goal percentage is the fifth-best figure in the league.

Drexel tends to not shoot three-pointers very much, as its 19.4 tries per game are the fewest in the CAA. However, the Dragons are not a terrible three-point shooting team, as they have made 34.3% of their attempts from deep, which ranks eighth.

Drexel’s offense is led by point guard Justin Moore: a 2023-24 All-CAA Third Team selection. Moore paces the Dragons with 12.6 points per game on a .394/.320/.760 shooting line. His 3.4 assists per game rank eighth in the conference.

Accompanying Moore is 2023-24 All-CAA First Team center Amari Williams, who is averaging 12.3 points per game on 52.1% shooting from the field. He has also made some plays as the pivot man with 1.9 assists per game.

Shooting guard Luke House is arguably the Dragons’ best shooter, as he is averaging 8.6 points per game on a .464/.392/.840 triple slash. His 125 three-point attempts lead the team. If House is not their best floor-spacer, then small forward Mate Okros is. Okros has averaged 6.5 points per contest this season on .440/.398/.860 shooting splits.

Drexel has a couple of other jump-shooters on the wing that make a difference off the bench. Small forward Kobe MaGee has been lights out from all over the court, as he boasts a .506/.359/.941 and averages 6.4 points per game. Shooting guard Shane Blakeney has averaged only 5.5 minutes per contest when he has gotten playing time, but he has shown in his limited chances that he has an effective shot. Of his 39 shots taken, 26 of them have been from deep, and he has made 34.6% of them.

Despite the good three-point numbers from those four wings, the Dragons are more likely to go inside with everyone, especially their bigs. Power forward Lucas Monroe has averaged 6.5 points per game while shooting a team-leading 60.1% from the field, followed by backup center Garfield Turner at 59.4%. Shooting guard Yame Butler has shot just 43.5% overall this season, but he has made 52.7% of his two-point field goals.

Backup point guard Jamie Bergens has been good at running his team’s second unit, as he is third on the team with 1.3 assists per game and leads it with a 1.9 assist-to-turnover ratio.

Stony Brook’s defense is back on the upswing, as its 71.9 points allowed per game is the sixth-best figure in the CAA. Defending from the field, the Seawolves hold their opponents to the sixth-lowest field goal percentage (.425) in the conference. Despite that, they have allowed a .344 three-point field goal percentage, which is the fourth-worst number in the league.

Defending against a team that shoots 51.5% from within the arc will be tough, but it is a task that centers Chris Maidoh and Keenan Fitzmorris will have to fulfill.

Based on several advanced statistics, the 6-foot-10 Maidoh is Stony Brook’s best defender. His 1.8 defensive box plus-minus, 1.2 defensive win shares and 99.6 defensive rating all lead the team. From a standard statistical standpoint, Maidoh has also been solid, as he leads his team with 54 combined blocks and steals (27 of each, 0.8 of each per game). The 7-foot Fitzmorris ranks eighth in the CAA with 1.0 blocks per game.

On the wing, shooting guard Dean Noll leads the Seawolves with 42 steals and 1.3 steals per game, which rank sixth and eighth in the conference, respectively. Small forward Tyler Stephenson-Moore has had the best defensive year of his career with 1.1 steals and 0.7 blocks per contest.

Small forward Sabry Philip will also log around 10 minutes off the bench on Sunday to help defend the perimeter — something he does well. Stony Brook’s transition defense has been a strength during conference play, with much of that being a credit to Philip’s work.

Though the Seawolves’ defense has been good, keeping points off the board is Drexel’s specialty. The Dragons surrender the second-fewest points per game (65.8) in the CAA. Opponents have shot just 41.5% against them from the field and 31.4% from three-point range, both of which rank second in the conference.

Being second best is a common theme for Drexel, as it averages precisely four blocks per game as a team, which are the second most in the CAA. Williams — the three-time CAA Defensive Player of the Year and CAA All-Defensive Team selection — leads the whole league with 1.8 blocks per game and also averages 0.9 steals per contest. Behind him, Turner blocks 0.5 shots per game.

The Dragons’ wings do not have very active hands, as they have the second-fewest steals per game (5.1) in the conference, led by Moore’s 1.1.

Though Drexel does not take the ball away, it does a good job keeping it from its opponents. The Dragons secure the third-most rebounds per game (39.1) in the CAA, which is a deadly combination alongside their low opponent’s shooting percentages.

The 6-foot-10 Williams is one of the conference’s best rebounders, as he ranks fifth with 7.8 per game. Monroe also cleans the glass effectively with 5.2 boards per contest, followed by Turner with 4.4 and power forward Lamar Oden Jr. with 4.2.

Stony Brook may be able to hang with Drexel on the boards, as it ranks fifth in the CAA with 36.1 rebounds per game. Power forward Andre Snoddy leads the team and ranks eighth in the conference with 7.3 boards per contest, followed by Maidoh’s 5.4 and Fitzmorris’ 4.4.

Fitzmorris is eighth in the league with 65 offensive rebounds. If he can win the fight against Williams and company while giving the Seawolves a couple of extra possessions, their offense may be able to help them pull off the upset.

Stony Brook’s offense has climbed to fifth in the CAA with 73.1 points per game. The Seawolves struggle with overall efficiency, as their .437 field goal percentage ranks just ninth out of 14 total teams. However, they have been the conference’s second-best three-point shooting team, making 35.3% of their tries from downtown.

Stephenson-Moore — a 2023-24 All-CAA Second Team selection — is the conference’s eighth-leading scorer with 16.2 points per game on a .447/.428/.847 triple slash. Point guard Aaron Clarke has been a steady second option, averaging 13.6 points per contest on .407/.346/.786 shooting splits. Clarke has been their floor general with 2.9 assists per game.

Off the bench, Fitzmorris is a versatile scorer with the ability to score in the low post and from mid-range. He is averaging 10.8 points per game this year while shooting 51.0% from the field and 78.0% from the free-throw line. He scored just two points on 1-of-5 shooting on Saturday against Northeastern.

Noll had a huge game last time out, as he tied a career high with 23 points on 8-of-16 shooting. He is fourth on the team with 10.5 points per game on a .411/.367/.804 shooting line. Noll ranks second on the team with 2.0 assists per game, just ahead of shooting guard Jared Frey’s 1.9.

In the paint, Maidoh poses a threat to the Dragons’ bigs, as he is averaging 7.1 points per contest on 54.4% shooting. Though Philip is just 6-foot-4 and does not shoot much, he is a very good finisher and leads the squad with a .556 field goal percentage. Frey is a wing with seemingly limitless range, as he has shot 37.6% on 117 three-point attempts this year with a large handful of them coming from the logo.

The winner of this game will move on to the CAA tournament semifinals and play again on Monday night at 8:30 p.m. Whoever wins will take on the victor of Sunday night’s quarterfinal game between third-seeded Hofstra and sixth-seeded Delaware. That matchup tips off at 8:30 p.m. after the conclusion of the Stony Brook-Drexel game.

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