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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


Inside game key to strong season for men’s hoops

Senior Dallis Joyner and the Seawolves will need to win the inside game against Vermont.

Despite strong three-point shooting from Albany, Stony Brook was able to defeat the Great Danes in the America East semifinals. The deciding factors were the forceful play that Stony Brook exhibited on defense down low underneath the basket, an element of its game that the players and coach say is crucial to their team’s success.

“That’s what we build this thing around,” head coach Steve Pikiell said. “We need to be ready to play good defense. We didn’t up at [Vermont’s] place, and they were strong on offense.”

From the end of Sunday’s game through the week, Pikiell’s mind has been set on Saturday’s game against the Catamounts (22-11), a team whom the Seawolves (22-8) split the season series with, 1-1. Regardless of the outcome, whoever controls the contest on defense and the game in the paint underneath the basket will have a significant advantage.

“We’re the best rebounding team in the league, but I’d like those first shots to go in too,” Pikiell said with a grin. “We’re hoping that we have a good shooting night. I bet they’re feeling the same way, and they’re going to try to take away our strengths just as we are.”

Stony Brook averaged a little more than 37 rebounds per game over the season, allowing its opponents to normally swipe approximately 29 of the same. Vermont, however, does not lag far behind, grabbing more than 35 rebounds per game but giving away a couple more rebounds per games to its opponents.

Pikiell says that this squad is a better defensive and rebounding team than the one he said was already solid in those categories last year. This is in part because of the return of junior forward Tommy Brenton, who missed all of last season with a knee injury. He came back this season and performed well enough to win Conference Defensive Player of the Year.

“He knows defensively where to be at all times,” senior forward Danny Carter. “Everybody hates to play against him, but everybody wants him on their team.”

In his award-winning season, Brenton averaged eight rebounds per game, stole the ball 49 times and blocked other team’s shots seven times.

“It’s mostly about sticking to the game plan and following through,” he said.

In fact, Brenton was center stage at the event that sealed Stony Brook’s victory on Sunday, where he tipped the ball up after a missed shot. Senior forward Dallis Joyner was able to push the ball into the basket for the game-winning shot.

“I think Sunday’s game was a microscope of how our season’s been,” Joyner said, speaking not only about Sunday’s last basket but the whole of Stony Brook’s inside game. “That’s indicative of how we’ve play our season and how we want to continue to play.”

All of the Seawolves and their fans hope that they continue to play that way against the Catamounts, whom Stony Brook defeated in its first conference game of the season, 65-59, and lost to in Vermont, 68-49.

“Our plan is to outwork them,” senior forward Al Rapier said. “We’re a good team; they’re a good team. You’ve got to be physical.”

One thing appeared to have been universally admitted: Stony Brook’s first America East Championship final game at home will have been worth the wait.

“It’s going to be a physical game,” Brenton said. “It’s a championship game, so you’ve got to expect the unexpected.”

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