Friday, March 9, 2012
W2W4: Stony Brook vs. Vermont
By Kieran Darcy
Here are three things to watch for when Stony Brook (22-8, 14-2 America East) takes on Vermont (22-11, 13-3 America East) on Saturday morning at Stony Brook Arena.
Tip-off is at 11 a.m., and you can watch the game on ESPN2 or via ESPN3.
WHAT'S AT STAKE: The America East tournament championship, and the conference's coveted automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. Vermont has been to the Big Dance four times. Stony Brook is trying to make history -- the Seawolves have never gone dancing, after jumping to Division I in 1999.
Two years ago, Stony Brook won the America East regular season championship, but was upset in the tournament semifinals. Last year, as the No. 5 seed, the Seawolves made it all the way to the championship game, but blew a 15-point second half lead and lost by two to Boston University.
This is a matchup of the top two defenses in the conference. They met twice in the regular season -- Stony Brook won 65-59 at home on Jan. 2, Vermont won 68-49 at home on Feb. 12.
Is this the year Stony Brook finally breaks through? We're about to find out.
THE SEAWOLVES: Stony Brook won its second America East regular season title this year -- that's why it's hosting the title game, and the game is expected to be a sellout. The Seawolves have won 19 of their past 21 games.
Stony Brook is led by 6-foot-1 senior point guard Bryan Dougher, who averages 13.4 points per game. Dave Coley, a 6-foot-2 sophomore guard, also averages in double figures at 10.0 points per game. And Tommy Brenton -- a 6-foot-5 forward -- averages 8.1 points, 8.0 rebounds and was named the conference's defensive player of the year.
The Seawolves are one of the best rebounding teams in the country -- they outboard their opponents by an average of 8.1 per game, fifth-best in the country. But they are not particularly good offensively -- 175th in the country in field goal percentage (43.3), 191st in 3-point field goal percentage (34.6) and 178th in free throw percentage (69.0).
THE CATAMOUNTS: Vermont, the No. 2 seed, last went to the NCAA tournament just two years ago -- as a No. 16 seed, the Catamounts lost to No. 1 seed Syracuse. But we all remember what happened in the 2005 Big Dance, when Vermont, seeded 13th, upset No. 4 seed Syracuse -- a team led by Taylor Coppenrath and T.J. Sorrentine.
This Vermont team is led by three double-figure scorers: 6-foot-8 senior forward Matt Glass (12.1 ppg), 6-foot-2 freshman guard Four McGlynn (11.9 ppg) and 6-foot-7 sophomore forward Luke Apfeld (10.4 ppg).
The Catamounts are a good rebounding team, though not as good as the Seawolves -- 57th in the country in rebound margin (+3.8 per game). But they are a better shooting team than Stony Brook -- No. 128 in field goal percentage (44.4), No. 162 in 3-point field goal percentage (34.2) and No. 32 in free throw percentage (74.4).