By Kyle Kandetzki – Assistant Sports Editor This is “The Scouting Report”, a new (mostly) online feature from The Hofstra Chronicle where we go in-depth on the Pride’s upcoming opponent. Stats and insight will be provided to help Hofstra fans know what to expect with each coming matchup.
The Hofstra Pride men’s basketball team return home Friday night for a Long Island battle against the Stony Brook Seawolves. Both teams are 1-1 thus far, and Hofstra is coming off a 76-64 loss at NC State. The game is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Mack Sports Complex.
THE BASIC INFORMATION:Stony Brook was established in 1957, located in Stony Brook, New York. The full name of the school is the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Stony Brook’s campus 34 miles east of Hofstra.
HISTORY: Stony Brook hasn’t had a storied history as a program, with zero NCAA tournament berths, and their first tournament berth of any kind coming in 2010. This is somewhat in part because Stony Brook only became a Division I team in 1999. Stony Brook plays in the America East conference, and has been the regular season champions three times since 2010, but have never been able win the tournament. The Seawolves have won over 20 games in four of the last five years, and have received three NIT berths (their only three) during those years.
LAST YEAR: Stony Brook went 23-9 and 13-3 in the America East last year. They were able to reach the America East Championship game, but would lose to Albany. The Seawolves earned a bid to the College Basketball Invitational, but would lose in the first round to eventual champion Siena.
THIS YEAR: The Seawolves were projected as the best team in their conference in a preseason poll. Stony Brook defeated eventual Hofstra opponent Columbia in their first game, then lost to the SEC’s Georgia Bulldogs. The Seawolves have a similarly mild out-of-conference schedule that includes LIU-Brooklyn (another future Pride opponent), Cincinnati, and Western Kentucky.
THE COACH: Steve Pikiell is in his 9th season at Stony Brook. He played in the late 1980s for UConn and was a captain on the team at point guard. He then was an assistant at Yale, Central Connecticut, UConn, and George Washington before landing the Stony Brook job. Pikiell has been a part of the rise of the Stony Brook program, as they have gone over .500 in 5 of the last 6 seasons. He is a 3-time America East coach of the year.
LOSSES: While the Seawolves won’t lose their best offensive weapons, they lose every single one of their supplementary shooters. As I’ll mention in more detail below, the top two scorers are returning for Stony Brook, but their third best returning shooter only averages 3.5 PPG.
Their worst loss is All-America East third-team guard Anthony Jackson who averaged 12.5 PPG, made 22 starts, and hit 94% of his free throws.
The remaining three isn’t just a huge loss from a scoring standpoint, but from under the hoop as well. Dave Coley started every game last year at guard, and averaged 10.4 points, 5 rebounds, and 2.5 assists. Forward Eric McAlister averaged 7.5 points, 5.5 boards, and a block, while guard Ahmad Walker had 7 PPG and a little over 5 rebounds.
Those four losses equate to a loss of 37.4 PPG and 18.2 RPG. There’s nothing else you can say about this except for how much they’ll need to fill in this upcoming season.
RETURNING PLAYERS: Stony Brook’s two best scorers are back this season: juniors Jameel Warney and Carson Puriefoy. Warney (6’8”, 255 lbs.) is their top weapon, last year’s America East Player of the Year who was a force from the floor thanks to 14.5 points per game, and the fifth best field goal percentage in the nation (62%). Warney doesn’t stop there, with 8 boards and 1 block per game.
Puriefoy (6’0” at guard) followed closely behind with just under 13 points a game, and led the team with fewer than 3 assists per game. Puriefoy started this season hot, scoring 26 points in their previous game against Georgia.
After this dynamic duo, the amount of trustworthy players taper off. The next best scorer among returning players is forward Rayshaun McGrew, who only averaged 3.4 PPG last year. Fellow forward Scott King finishes the list of returners who averaged more than 2 points per game, as he had 3.2.
It seems as if the only major contributions on this team will be coming from the junior class, with no seniors, a trio of underwhelming sophomores who don’t play much, and freshman that I’ll get to now…
FRESHMEN: This is a very young team, with no seniors and five freshman (one of which is a redshirt freshman). Through their first two games, two of them have grabbed 20+ minutes on average, but haven’t created much of a splash. Guard/forward combo Bryan Sekunda has been the “best” of the class, with 5.5 PPG and 2 RPG. Though the best of the freshman isn’t a lofty goal, as Sekunda has struggled, shooting 33% from the floor.
The other freshman with a majority of playtime right off the bat is DeShaun Thrower. Thrower has 5 PPG himself, but has struggled even more so, making only one field goal on seven total shots. 7 of his 10 total points so far are on free throws.
THE MATCHUP: Due to the attack of Warney and Puriefoy, you simply cannot write this team off. But Hofstra is in even better position to get this team, that is still figuring out where it’s secondary scoring will be coming from, this early in the season. The Seawolves will be experimenting with their lineup to see who will step up, and they definitely haven’t found the answers two games into the year.
Hofstra definitely will want to look to wear down these two prolific scorers, and strike effectively when one or both are in need of a break. Green and/or Nichols will need to make defense even more imperative for Puriefoy’s game, and the big men will need to follow suit against Warney.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Moussa Kone won’t be playing tonight, and might not be for a while. Rokas Gustys got the start against NC State in just his second collegiate game, and wasn’t much of a scoring threat, only hitting one shot. Freshman Andre Walker would be supplementing him at center; he also only hit one shot. Gustys and Walker, though, have been fantastic getting boards, as Rokas has 22 so far, while Walker has 15.
I trust the main scoring attack of Green, Bernardi, Tanksley, and company will be fine heading the workload. But the two big men will need a slightly bigger offensive contribution to match Kone’s 7 PPG.
Questions to be answered include:
After a great performance against NC State, will Dion Nesmith have a huge night?
Will Bernardi return to form after his rough night on Monday?
Will Juan’ya Green get a break tonight? (He played all 40 minutes Monday)
Is missing Kone going to be a huge hit to this ‘offensive rotation’ that the Pride have?
Will this actually end up being a blow out, as it can be if Hofstra jumps out early?
Bonus question: With a local rival coming to town, how loud is the Mack going to get?
PLAYER OF THE GAME PROJECTION: Juan’ya Green. He did a little bit of everything against a tough Wolfpack team, seems primed to do big things tonight.
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS Pride Malik Nichols Juan’ya Green Brian Bernardi Ameen Tanksley Rokas Gustys
Seawolves G Roland Nyama (2.5 PPG, 16 Minutes per game) G Kameron Mitchell (2 total points so far, 14.5 MPG) G Carson Puriefoy (20 PPG, only missed 5 minutes of play so far) F Jameel Warney (12 PPG, 14.5 RPG) F Rayshaun McGrew (9 PPG, 7.5 RPG) ____________________________________________ NEXT UP: vs. Wagner (11/23)