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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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Out With The Old, In With The New

They’re changing the guard on Stony Brook campus.

Wednesday night, Stony Brook lost to top-seed Illinois, 76-66, but it was more than just the first postseason basketball game in school history or the largest crowd in basketball program history.

It was a revolution.

Gone were the days of a more-than-half –empty Stony Brook Arena watching a perennial loser finish last in the conference.

Instead, 4,423 students and community members gathered to watch the Stony Brook Seawolves, regular season champions of the America East, playing in the NIT for the first time and doing it at home against a team that was a couple points away from an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.

“When the students come they make it a hard place to play,” Seawolves Head Coach Steve Pikiell said. “This is Division I basketball.  The environment was great tonight.

“We’ve got a good program here, and people are starting to take notice,” he said. “This isn’t a lacrosse town anymore.  We’re trying to make it a basketball town.”

Gone, too, were memories of senior Muhammad El-Amin’s heroic 23-point performance against Vermont to clinch the conference crown.  El-Amin scored 16 points, but was only 6-for-20 from the field and ended many a Seawolves possession with a missed shot as Illinois’ length overwhelmed Stony Brook at the glass.

Instead, it was sophomore Bryan Dougher who established himself as the star of the future.

Dougher was everywhere.  He scored a game-high 21 points, and his 5-for-8 night from beyond the three point arc led Illinois Head Coach Bruce Weber to call Dougher the best three-point shooter Illinois will see all year.  He set a Stony Brook single-season record for three-pointers in a season, finishing with 95.

But his influence goes far beyond the numbers next to the clock.

The box score will only list his one rebound and two steals, but if there were categories for rebounds and steals created, the numbers would be much higher.

His basketball IQ is tremendous, and he needs every decimal point of it.

Listed at a basketball 6’1”, Dougher will never be the biggest guy on the court unless he plays against his kids in the driveway.  But he never shies away from contact and isn’t afraid to mix it up among the trees in the middle.

Against Illinois, which boasts a player over seven feet tall, Dougher showed that he could play with the bigs.  He made room for shots, inside and out.

With 8:55 to go in the first, Dougher stopped a fast break by drawing a charge, a job not for the faint of heart when the guy coming at full speed towards your offered chest has six inches and 30 pounds on you.

A minute and a half later, Dougher drove inside and cleverly spun a reverse layup off the backboard and in.  The ball may have been travelling away from the backboard when he launched it, but just the right touch from Dougher saw it fall.

He then hit two straight three pointers to give Stony Brook the lead with just over six minute left in the half.

In the second half, Weber finally tightened his defense on Dougher, and there was a very big hand in his face everywhere he went.  And still Dougher made room to hit two more threes.

His 21 points came on just 15 shots, to El-Amin’s 16 points on 20 shots.

There are three important aspects that should make Seawolves Country more than a little optimistic about the future:  his standing, his support and his attitude.

Dougher is only a sophomore, and set these records and put up 21 against Illinois and was a second-team all-conference guard as a sophomore.  The best is yet to come.

And even better, he will take the court next year with three returning starters in Chris Martin, Tommy Brenton and Dallis Joyner.  Brenton has all the tools to be a great scorer, and both he and Martin have turned in some very good performances this year, taking over games for minutes at a time.  Joyner, when challenged, can turn in dominating performances inside.

Dougher has the attitude to not shoot the ball every time it’s in his hands, and the teammates to not have to.  El-Amin had only one of those two.

As Dougher himself said after the game, “the future is bright here.”  He has a lot to do with it.

The team that Coach Pikiell has built is in a great position to make a lot of noise in the America East and beyond over the last two years, and hopefully that noise will bring in new talent interested in dancing in March.  With the current crew, it’s easy to be optimistic about the Stony Brook basketball revolution.

“They really got a dose of what March Madness is tonight,” Coach Pikiell said.  “It’s exciting, it really is.”

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