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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


Men Battle Great Danes

“Bring ’em on.”

That was men’s basketball Head Coach Steve Pikiell’s message to those who suggested that #8 Albany (7-24, 2-14) would be happy to play the tournament’s #1 Stony Brook (21-8, 13-3), preferring the Seawolves to a matchup with #2 Vermont.

“Talkers and doers,” he said.  “I’m excited, our team is excited.”

But a brief look at Stony Brook’s history with the Great Danes, and one could see where they might be coming from.

The Seawolves’ last meeting with Albany (Feb. 19) required a last-second jumper from senior Muhammad El-Amin, who hit from 18 feet with 1.8 seconds to go in the game to put Stony Brook ahead by the final score, 68-66.  El-Amin led the team with 19 points, and Bryan Dougher contributed 11.   Tommy Brenton grabbed 12 rebounds, but Albany collected more rebounds, the last team to do so, 38-31.

This came after the Seawolves had a rough go against Albany in the first round at Pritchard Gymnasium on Jan. 24.

Stony Brook trailed the Great Danes late until a rare Brenton three-pointer put the Seawolves ahead with 4:07 left.  Albany battled back to tie the score at 58, but Dougher hit a three with 1:08 left to give Stony Brook the lead for good.  The Seawolves went on to win, 67-61.  Freshman Marcus Rouse scored a game-high 17 points, while Brenton added 14.  Dallis Joyner contributed a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Still, Coach Pikiell appeared unconcerned with the difficult past.

“Every game was a tough game,” he said.  “Albany is a good team. We’ve got to play defense and play with energy.”

Stony Brook is also coming off a 77-55 loss to New Hampshire, a chink in the mighty armor of a team that beat every America East team at least once during the regular season, losing just three times.  Dougher and El-Amin combined for just 1-for-5 from three-point land, a 20 percent showing from a pairing that has hit a sizzling 46 percent from three in conference play.

Meanwhile, the Wildcats were on fire, hitting big shots and pinning the Seawolves back defensively.

Coach Pikiell said that while he would never want to lose, Sunday’s game was a good time.

“They needed the game, and obviously we didn’t,” he said.  “It was good for us to have a film session where we didn’t play well.  It was good for us to get hungry and understand that if you don’t play hard, and don’t rebound, and don’t play defense, you can get beat by anybody.”

But Pikiell said the Seawolves have put the loss out of their minds.

“We’ve put it to bed,” he said.  “The tournament is a whole new season.”

Pikiell made it clear that the team will be focused on playing good team basketball this weekend, positioning the team for the long-term rather than preparing for the short term.

“I’m preparing our team for the tournament,” he said.  “Not so much for Albany, or not so much for a player.  We’ve got to pressure the ball, we’ve got to rebound, we’ve got to do the things that we’ve got to do no matter who we play.”

The Seawolves will be looking to the duo of Brenton and Joyner to stop the likes of 6-foot-5-inch, 230-pound Albany forward Will Harris, who had a team-high 17 points last time out, and 6-foot-8-inch, 220-pound forward Scott McRae, who had 16.

El-Amin, who is 77 points shy of 1,000 heading into Saturday’s game, will be tasked with scoring the bulk of Stony Brook’s points.

Dougher will be supporting him from beyond the three-point line as he has done all year.  The pair will be charged with stopping Albany’s Tim Ambrose, who scored 12 points in the teams’ last meeting.

The game is scheduled to tip-off at noon.  Fans can also catch the game live on

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