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Men’s College Basketball Preview: Stony Brook at UConn

It’s that time of the year Seawolves fans! That’s right, it’s time for basketball!

Stony Brook’s men’s basketball team is prepared to start the season Friday on the road against UConn. Last year, the Seawolves recorded their best season in school history, setting program records in wins (22) and conference wins (13). In just his fifth year at the helm of the program, head coach Steve Pikiell guided the Seawolves to their first America East Conference regular season title and an automatic bid to the NIT, the program’s first postseason appearance.

Stony Brook is returning eight letterwinners from last season, including four starters. The Seawolves also welcome four newcomers who represent what Pikiell calls the most talented recruiting class he’s ever had.

Leading the Seawolves will be All-America East second team point guard Bryan Dougher (Scotch Plain, N.J.). Now in his junior year, Dougher is back after an outstanding sophomore season where he set a program record with 95 three-pointers. He ranked 10th in the conference with 13.8 points per game.

Also returning is junior forward Dallis Joyner (Norfolk, Va.), who Pikiell expects to be one of the most improved players in the conference this year. Look for him to make an impact this season.

Stony Brook will be a bit depleted to start the season, as the injury bug took a bite into two key players. Sharp-shooting guard Marcus Rouse (Upper Marlboro, Md.) will miss part of the season after having knee surgery.

But the biggest loss comes in the form of Tommy Brenton (Columbia, Md.), who is out indefinitely after dislocating his right knee in a pickup game over the offseason. Brenton was selected to the All-America East second team and the America East All-Defensive team after leading the conference in rebounding for the second year in a row. He also led the team in assists and steals and was a tenacious defender, so his production will surely be missed.

“He’s our best defensive player, our best rebounder, and our best passer, and he has experience,” Pikiell said. “When you take that out of the equation, it makes a huge impact. But we just have to adjust.”

Potentially filling in for Brenton will be junior college transfer Al Rapier (Chicago, Ill.). At 6”7’, 220-pounds, he gives the Seawolves an inside presence, and Pikiell has called him a lockdown defender. Look for him to start contributing immediately.

Pikiell also said the three freshmen—guards Dave Coley (Brooklyn (N.Y.) and Anthony Jackson (Columbus, Ohio) and center Anthony Mayo (Philadelphia, Pa.) will all see playing time against UConn.

The Huskies are also coming off an NIT appearance, finishing last season 18-16 and 7-11 in the Big East Conference. The team only has two returning starters, but brought in six freshmen to replace five outgoing letterwinners. At the helm is legendary coach Jim Calhoun, who has 823 career victories, six Big East Championships, and two national championships on his resume.

Leading UConn will be junior point guard and captain Kemba Walker. Last season he averaged 14.6 points, 5.1 assists, and 4.3 rebounds per game. Over the offseason, he competed against Team U.S.A., so it looks like he is poised to have a breakout year.

This is the fourth all-time meeting between the two teams. UConn has won all three previous matchups, the last being a dominant 91-57 victory in 2008. Calhoun has never lost a home-opener. This will be a homecoming for Pikiell, who lettered at UConn from 1987-91. Calhoun gave his first coaching job as an assistant in 1991-92.

“I have a lot of respect for him; he’s a hell of a coach,” Pikiell said. “He gave me my first coaching job and helped me get every job afterwards.”

This will be the first of nine televised games for Stony Brook this season, as it will be shown on SNY. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.

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