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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


Experience Will Bring Out Best in Seawolves

The dream season is over. Well, almost.

Stony Brook’s early exit from the America East tournament has cancelled its ticket to the Big Dance. There will be no conference championship game in the freshly repaired arena. Seawolves fans who did not storm the court after the team’s regular season championship clinching-win against Vermont are going to have to wait at least a year before the opportunity arises again.

With Sunday’s 70-63 loss to the Boston Terriers, the Seawolves are the second team in the last five years to have won the conference crown but came up short when a trip to the NCAA tournament was on the line. Their regular season title guaranteed them an appearance in the “other” postseason tournament: the NIT, the ball reserved for the Big Dance rejects.

But, as uncomforting to Seawolves Country as it sounds, this is actually the way things are supposed to happen. Looking at the road to Stony Brook’s turnaround, the team used last season to turn heads and this season to establish itself as a conference heavyweight. Falling short of an automatic NCAA tournament bid will be all the motivation the team will need when next season tips off in November. Maybe next year will be the year that they complete the turnaround from “worst to first” all the way to a postseason championship.

This year, despite stringing together 10 consecutive wins towards the end of the regular season, the Seawolves did not stand head and shoulders above the rest of the conference. Only a game separated them from second-place Vermont. Also, Maine and Boston were two wins away from matching Stony Brook’s conference record. As impressive as the Seawolves looked when routing those teams, there was still a very small gap between them and other conference powerhouses.

The team looked invincible at times, but it also had very vulnerable moments.

The Seawolves allowed the last-ranked Albany Great Danes to play them very close both times they met, even needing a Muhammad El-Amin jumper with only three seconds remaining to squeeze out the second win.

Also, after clinching the conference title with a thrilling home win against Vermont, Stony Brook didn’t show up against New Hampshire for the last game of the season. The Wildcats won comfortably, 77-55, snapping the Seawolves’ winning streak and leaving the radio broadcasters to question the team’s demeanor.

“They just seem too comfortable, like they’re already thinking about the conference championship,” said one of the anchors.

Being that this was a season of firsts for Stony Brook, the team was often in unchartered territory. They had never been in the situation that they found themselves in on Sunday, trying to fight off a tough, senior-laden Boston team for a chance to play for the conference crown.

But the loss gave the team something extremely valuable: experience.

Starting three sophomores and a junior for most of the season, experience was the one play that Coach Steve Pikiell could not draw up. It can’t be taught; the players have to live it and learn from it themselves.

The Seawolves now have a reference point. Every game next year, they will think of how close they were. They will not be comfortable or satisfied with a trip to the NIT, and will push harder for the dance with one more letter and much better music.

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