College Basketball Nation: Stony Brook Seawolves
Winless Tulsa gave Creighton a scare. But overall, it certainly wasn’t the game’s sexiest Saturday. But there were a variety of under-the-radar and mid-major programs that offered some impressive individual efforts.
These are some of the players who usually go unnoticed for the majority of the year until March approaches and we’re all scrambling to find the next Butler or VCU. Well, remember these names. These athletes might be more relevant in the coming months.
2. Anthony Ireland (Loyola Marymount) -- The 2012-13 All-WCC first-teamer scored 25 points in a 76-70 win over Marist in the Paradise Jam. The senior also recorded 6 assists and 3 steals. And he made 10 of 11 free throws.
3. Jameel Warney (Stony Brook) -- The 6-foot-8 sophomore forward was in Beast Mode during Stony Brook’s 67-61 win over Florida Atlantic. He finished with 23 points and 19 rebounds in that game. He was crucial for the Seawolves, who were locked in a tied game early in the second half.
4. Langston Hall (Mercer) -- The 6-4 senior led Mercer to an 81-54 win over Yale. He connected on four of his seven 3-point attempts. He also registered 18 points, 10 assists, 2 rebounds and 1 steal.
5. Anthony Stitt (Charleston) -- The junior finished the Cougars’ lopsided 89-55 win over Furman with 4 steals. He also made 4 of 8 3-point attempts on his way to 21 points.
6. Chris Horton (Austin Peay) -- The sophomore big man is averaging 3.8 BPG. And he maintained that pace when he finished with four blocks in a 78-72 victory over Montana State. He also finished with 23 points and 9 rebounds.
7. Sean Armand (Iona) -- The 6-5 guard powered the Gaels in their 89-73 victory over Paul Hewitt’s program. Armand was 10-for-16 from the field in a 30-point performance. It was his season high in George Mason’s first blemish of the season.
8. Ray Lee (Eastern Michigan) -- What a performance by the freshman in his team’s fifth consecutive win. He scored 38 points, went 12-for-15 from the field and made all five 3-point attempts in Eastern Michigan’s 74-69 victory over Texas-Arlington. Another interesting note? His real name is Raven.
9. Shawn Long (Louisiana-Lafayette) -- Check out this stat line by the 6-9, 245-pounder: He finished with 24 points, 17 rebounds and 5 blocks in the Ragin' Cajuns' 84-75 victory over Oakland. He also hit a 3-pointer.
10. Mark Henniger (Kent State) -- The 6-9 senior led the Golden Flashes to a 102-97 win over Niagara. He was perfect. He went 6-for-6 from the field (20 points) and 8-for-8 from the free throw line. Kent State should bronze his shoes.
It's college basketball preview season, and you know what that means: tons of preseason info to get you primed for 2013-14. But what do you really need to know? Each day for the next month, we'll highlight the most important, interesting or just plain amusing thing each conference has to offer this season -- from great teams to thrilling players to wild fans and anything in between. Up next: The sneaky-good Stony Brook Seawolves.
I'll always remember the first time I watched Stony Brook play basketball.
My memory isn't vivid because of Stony Brook itself. It was mid-November, 2010, roughly seven hours into my first-ever College Hoops Tip-Off marathon chat. The 6 a.m. ET start slot went to Stony Brook and Monmouth, which is precisely the kind of game that gets scheduled at 6 a.m. ET -- both schools small enough to be willing. I remember being impressed by the sold-out Monmouth crowd. I remember being floored that a few hundred people were a) awake and b) spending their time chatting with me. I remember being horrified by a shrieking woman, or at least chatting about a shrieking woman; she could have been in a different game. Things were already starting to blur together. But I do remember two things: The game was thrillingly close, and the basketball was pretty bad.
Stony Brook would go on to win 15 games in 2010-11. They ended the season ranked No. 216 in the Pomeroy adjusted efficiency rankings. They were never particularly noteworthy.
All of which comes in service of this point: There was very little reason to expect Stony Brook would vault into the nation's top 60 just a few seasons later. I would venture to guess even most die-hard college hoops fans had no idea. But it really happened: In 2012-13, the Seawolves went 25-8, finished No. 55 in the Pomeroy rankings, suffered a couple of ugly losses (Sacred Heart, Hartford) along the way, went 14-2 in their league, and lost to Albany 61-59 in the America East tournament.
The 2013-14 season holds nearly as much promise. There is the small matter of replacing senior guard Marcus Rouse, who shot 41 percent from 3, turned the ball over on fewer than 10 percent of his possessions and was a major factor on the defensive end, where Steve Pikiell's team shined. Waving farewell to senior forward Tommy Brenton won't be easy, either; those are two big defensive losses. But Stony Brook has three starters returning, and a host of promising young players. The best of them last season was 6-foot-8 freshman forward Jameel Warney, who shot nearly 62 percent from the field, cleared double-digit rebounding rate tallies on both ends of the floor, blocked 6.6 percent of opponents' available shots, and gradually began to fit the archetype of the dominant mid-major star.
Warney's going to be really good in 2013-14, and it appears Stony Brook could be, too. Had you told me that back in November of 2010, I would have -- well, I would have asked you to bring me a cup of coffee. Then I would have told you that you were crazy. But here we are, and here Stony Brook is, on the verge of a mid-major breakout, no caffeine required.
2. Teams in some of the lower-level conferences don't have the luxury of home nonconference games or even neutral-site affairs. That's why it's always impressive to see which teams have won true road games at this point in the season. The list won't have a single power-six type school on it since they hardly play any real road games. Our ESPN research crew has produced the current list: Stony Brook has seven. Albany, Bryant, Bucknell, Louisiana Tech, Murray State, Stephen F. Austin and Texas-Arlington have six. If you're looking for a few predictions on who on this list will make the NCAA tournament, I'll go with Stony Brook out of the America East, Bucknell from the Patriot, Murray State from the OVC and Stephen F. Austin out of the Southland. Bucknell is the one school on this list that I will blindly predict wins at least one game.
3. Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy is no fool when it comes to making the NCAA tournament. He knows the deal. The Rebels just won one game at home against Missouri and one on the road against Tennessee. That doesn't equate to an NCAA tourney berth. So Kennedy knows, "we've got to win games.'' The Rebels have been on too many bubbles and in NITs (five of six years under Kennedy) for Kennedy to be too confident. It's hard not to be a little optimistic, though, with the play of JC transfer (originally at Utah) Marshall Henderson. He's averaging 18.6 points a game and is one of the toughest matchups in the SEC. "He's a good shooter, a scorer and a competitor,'' said Kennedy. He's all of the above, for sure.
2. Practice is a week away and Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy says he has the most quality depth in his six years in Oxford. The Rebels have been a perennial early bubble team, only to find itself more to the NIT’s liking under Kennedy -- Ole Miss has been in the NIT in five of Kennedy’s six seasons. He returns three senior starters and adds six players, three to four of whom Kennedy expects will play significant minutes. The gem returnee, though, isn’t a senior. It’s Jarvis Summers, a sophomore guard who led SEC freshmen with a 43.6 percent 3-point percentage last season. The problem for the Rebels is that the non-conference schedule which is once again light. Ole Miss plays only one team that is projected to be in the NCAA tournament -- San Diego State at the Diamond Head Classic in December. Ole Miss will have to earn the bid in the SEC.
3. The alignment saga is quiet -- for now. But there are still spots to fill in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, Colonial Athletic Association and America East. One school that is quietly hoping its phone rings is Monmouth. The New Jersey university would take a ticket out of the Northeast Conference if it came from the CAA or the MAAC. Facilities and location are a plus. The CAA, though, still needs Davidson and Charleston if it’s going to get a significant bump out of expansion after losing Virginia Commonwealth, Old Dominion and Georgia State. Quinnipiac would listen to the MAAC and America East (and of course the CAA, too, but that’s doubtful). The America East loses any of its leverage to lure if it sees Stony Brook depart -- and the Seawolves' football program is on its way to the CAA in 2013.
- If I had my druthers, I would dig a hole in the ground and put my rather large head in it each and every time the words "conference realignment" flickered past MacBook Air. Since that route is professionally untenable -- plus, I'd have to go buy a large shovel to accomodate this dome -- I suppose we're better off facing up to the cold, harsh realities of realignment. Sports Illustrated's Luke Winn does exactly that Tuesday. Winn crunched Ken Pomeroy's Pythagorean expectations formula numbers in order to, as he writes, "compare what actually happened over the past 10 seasons against what the stats say would have happened, had the past 10 seasons played out under the new alignments." Winn adds and subtracts various schools from various leagues, and presents a chart-heavy picture that will look downright sad to fans of the Big East, Mountain West, all three of which would have been significantly worse leagues under their current alignments. No surprise there, of course, but Luke's work puts a much finer statistical point on the unfortunate realities of football-driven money grabs. Maybe that head-hole isn't such a bad idea after all.
- On Monday, Pacific coach Bob Thomason announced that the 2012-13 season -- his 25th year at the school -- would be his last. Among a long list of accomplishments, Thomason posted nine 20-win seasons, won five Big West coach of the year trophies and led Pacific to four NCAA tournament appearances, two of which included first-round upset wins over Providence and Pittsburgh in 2004 and 2005, respectively.
- Stony Brook is putting $21.1 million into a new basketball arena. You can see an artist's rendering here.
- Draft Express's Jonathan Givony reports back from the New Jersey Nets NBA draft combine (complete with a sortable results chart) and some of the athletic test results were fascinating. Among them? Penn's Zack Rosen tested out as the fastest player in the three-quarters-court sprint, only a fraction of a second slower than Derrick Rose; Stanford's Josh Owens posted the highest vertical jumps and the best bench press numbers; and Mississippi State's Renardo Sidney (wait for it) was the heaviest player in the combine (there it is) by 40 pounds, with a body fat percentage of 22.4 percent, the highest of the combine and the second-highest in Givony's entire database. (Only the legend that is Oliver Miller ranked higher.) The kicker: "Sidney quit pretty early on in the workout after being seen grasping an inhaler on the sidelines." Never change, Renardo. Never change.
- Speaking of the draft, on Friday ESPN Insider Chad Ford released his list of players for whom draft workouts could most affect their stock. Candidates include Perry Jones, Terrence Jones, Terrence Ross, Andrew Nicholson and a host of others.
- Our own Jason King checked in with new Illinois coach John Groce, who is unfazed by the notion that he wasn't Illinois's first choice, and excited by the prospect of a long-term rebuild of the proud Illini program. Meanwhile, in case you missed it, Myron and I debated whether the program Groce inherited is indeed as overrated as we all now seem to think.
- Mental health break No. 1: "The Yankee Commandante" is no doubt one of the longer magazine stories you will read all year. It is no doubt also one of the best.
- Mental health break No. 2: I would by lying if I said I hadn't been listening to 8-bit "Kid A" all day.