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The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


Stony Brook men’s basketball takes on Hofstra in CAA semifinals

The Stony Brook men’s basketball team’s bench celebrates a play against Hofstra on Jan. 22. The Seawolves will battle with the Pride in the semifinals tomorrow night. BRITTNEY DIETZ/THE STATESMAN

With revenge on the mind, the seventh-seeded Stony Brook men’s basketball team has earned itself a third and final crack at its crosstown rivals.

Never, across any sport, has a Battle of Long Island matchup ever had implications this big. On Monday night, the Seawolves (19-14, 10-8 CAA) will take on the third-seeded Hofstra Pride (20-12, 12-6 CAA) in the semifinals of the 2024 Coastal Athletic Association (CAA) men’s basketball tournament. The game will be aired on CBS Sports Network. Opening tip-off at the Entertainment & Sports Arena in Washington, D.C. is scheduled for 8:30 p.m.

Stony Brook and Hofstra met twice during the regular season, with both games going down to the wire. Ultimately, the Pride took both in the end, winning by scores of 80-74 and 72-71, respectively.

If the Seawolves can simply get a stop when they need to, they may be able to get over the hump. However, they are not just stopping any ordinary offense.

Hofstra has the third-best scoring offense in the CAA with 74.7 points per game. The Pride shoot the ball better than anyone, as they lead the conference in field goal percentage (.475) and three-point field goal percentage (.372) while also sitting second in free throw percentage (.753).

As Stony Brook learned the hard way on Feb. 1, nobody in the CAA is more dangerous than Hofstra shooting guard Tyler Thomas. Thomas is the nation’s third-leading scorer with 22.2 points per game on a .416/.371/.862 shooting line. His performance this year won him the 2023-24 CAA Player of the Year award along with an obvious selection to the 2023-24 All-CAA First Team.

The Robin to Thomas’ Batman is power forward Darlinstone Dubar, who has been far and away the best second option in the league this season. Dubar exploded for 30 points on 11-of-14 shooting in the first meeting between these two teams and made all seven of his two-point field goals. He is sixth in the CAA with 18.2 points per game on a .542/.398/.734 triple slash. Dubar’s breakout season earned him a spot on the 2023-24 All-CAA Second Team.

The man who runs the Pride’s show is point guard Jaquan Carlos, who is averaging 10.3 points per game on .415/.344/.890 shooting splits. Carlos leads the conference with 6.3 assists per game, which is 2.0 more than the second-place player. Thomas is also a good playmaker, as he ranks ninth in the league with 3.3 dimes per contest.

Other than its three double-digit scorers, Hofstra has multiple efficient options on offense. 

Centers Jacco Fritz and Silas Sunday are a useful pair of bigs who get a plethora of good looks just by using their size and length. The 6-foot-10 Fritz has shot 66.2% from the field this year to lead the team and ranks fourth on it with 7.0 points per game. Sunday is the team’s only 7-footer and is scarcely used on offense, but he owns a .558 field goal percentage.

Off the bench, the Pride have a lethal weapon in small forward German Plotnikov, who has shot 60% from the field and 50% from three-point range this year. He has averaged 6.2 points per game this year. Starting over Plotnikov is small forward Bryce Washington, who is more of a downhill scorer and owns a .443 field goal percentage.

Also on Hofstra’s second unit are shooting guards KiJan Robinson and Khalil Farmer. Robinson is a good floor-spacer and owns a .359 three-point field goal percentage. Farmer is a three-point specialist, as 27 of his 39 shots have come from beyond the arc. Farmer has made 33.3% of his tries from deep this season.

The Seawolves’ defense has fully come into form as one of the better ones in the conference. However, after playing 50 minutes on Sunday night, their scoring defense’s ranking is skewed, as they currently sit in ninth with 72.4 points per game. Stony Brook is one of the hardest teams to shoot against, as it holds opponents to the fourth-lowest field goal percentage (.424) in the CAA.

The Seawolves’ only glaring defensive weakness is on the perimeter, as they allow too many good looks. Opponents have shot 34.4% against Stony Brook from three-point territory this year, which is the fourth-worst rate in the conference.

Small forward Tyler Stephenson-Moore is one of the best defensive wings in the league and will likely be tasked with guarding Thomas. Stephenson-Moore has had a career year on defense with 1.1 steals and 0.6 blocks per game. Shooting guard Dean Noll ranks sixth in the CAA with 43 steals and ninth with 1.3 per game. Small forward Sabry Philip is a fast and aggressive defensive wing who will likely share some of the load in trying to cool off Thomas.

Down low, 6-foot-10 center Chris Maidoh is the Seawolves’ best defender. He leads them in combined steals and blocks (58), defensive box plus-minus (1.8) and defensive win shares (1.2). Center Keenan Fitzmorris — a 7-footer — ranks eighth in the conference with 1.0 blocks per game.

It is in Stony Brook’s best interest to prevent the Pride from earning second-chance opportunities. The Seawolves are the fifth-best rebounding team in the CAA, as they grab 36.4 per game. Power forward Andre Snoddy paces them with 7.2 rebounds per game, which ranks eighth in the conference. After Snoddy, Maidoh averages 5.5 boards per contest, followed by Fitzmorris with 4.4.

On the glass, Hofstra is the third-worst team in the CAA with 32.8 per game. Dubar leads the Pride and places ninth in the league with 6.8 rebounds per contest, followed by Fritz with 5.2 and Thomas with 5.1. Carlos is also active on the boards with 4.4 per game. The 7-foot Sunday averages 2.7 rebounds in just 10.8 minutes per appearance.

Despite the bad rebounding numbers, Hofstra’s defense is elite by the CAA’s standards. The Pride have the third-best scoring defense (68.6 points allowed per game) and the best shot defense (.415 opponent’s field goal percentage) in the conference.

Hofstra protects the rim well, averaging the fourth-most blocks per game (3.5) in the league while ranking seventh in steals per contest (6.1). Carlos — a 2023-24 CAA All-Defensive Team selection — ranks fourth in the conference with 1.6 steals per game. Thomas has picked pockets effectively this year, as he averages 1.3 steals per game, followed by Dubar with 1.2.

Fritz and Dubar co-lead the team with 30 blocks each. Fritz leads the team and ranks 10th in the CAA with 1.0 per game, while Dubar just narrowly missed out on the top 10 with 0.9. Sunday is third on the team with 16 blocks and leads it with 1.9 rejections per 40 minutes.

Though the Pride defend well, much like Stony Brook, their weakness is the three-point line. Opponents have made 34.3% of their three-pointers against Hofstra, which is the fifth-worst rate in the conference.

That is a bad weakness to have against the Seawolves, who shoot the ball very well from beyond the arc. They rank second in the CAA with a .353 three-point percentage. Stephenson-Moore has shot 42.0% from deep this year to lead the team, followed by shooting guard Jared Frey at 38.1%. Noll has hit on 36.7% of his three-point attempts, followed by point guard Aaron Clarke at 34.8%.

Behind the strong three-point shooting, Stony Brook boasts the fourth-best scoring offense with 73.7 points per game. The team has not been as efficient overall, as its .440 field goal percentage is just ninth out of 14 teams in the CAA.

Four different Seawolves own double-digit scoring averages. Stephenson-Moore ranks eighth in the conference with 16.1 points per game on a .439/.420/.852 shooting line. His performance on both ends of the court earned him a selection to the All-CAA Second Team.

Clarke is their second-leading scorer with 14.0 points per game on a .415/.348/.795 triple slash. He is also their leading facilitator with 3.0 assists per game. Clarke is one of the best dimers in the league, as his 2.3 assist-to-turnover ratio is the fourth-best figure in the CAA.

Fitzmorris is a dangerous weapon in the post, as he has averaged 10.9 points per game on 51.6% shooting from the field this year. He has also made 77.5% of his free throws. Noll is averaging 10.4 points per contest on .410/.367/.793 shooting splits. Noll’s 2.0 assists per game are the second most on the team, followed by Frey’s 1.8.

After scoring a career-high 25 points against Drexel, Maidoh is averaging 7.6 points per game while shooting 55.9% from the field. Philip is a good slasher and owns a .532 field goal percentage this year.

Given the potential fatigue of Stony Brook’s top eight players, shooting guard Toby Onyekonwu may see the floor. He is one of the team’s fastest players. However, his shooting struggles have relegated him to the bench, as his .357/.266/.846 triple slash was not cutting it for head coach Geno Ford. Onyekonwu has not played more than two minutes since Feb. 22, so his legs should be fresh in case Ford wants to give one of his regulars a break.

The winner of this game will advance to the CAA finals on Tuesday night, where they will face either the top-seeded Charleston Cougars or the fifth-seeded Towson Tigers.

The Cougars are 25-7 this year and have won 10 in a row after eliminating eighth-seeded Monmouth with an 83-59 win on Sunday. The Tigers are 20-13 this year after eliminating 13th-seeded William & Mary with a 67-56 victory on Saturday before upsetting the third-seeded University of North Carolina Wilmington 66-56 on Sunday.

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About the Contributor
Mike Anderson
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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