NYC Metro Preview: #15 Stony Brook
Head coach: Steve Pikiell
Returning Starters: 4- G Ricky Lucas (senior): 6-4, 215; G Mitchell Beauford (senior): 5-11, 185; G Eddie Castellanos (sophomore): 6-1, 180; F Emanuel Neto (senior): 6-9, 245.
Last season was a tough one offensively for the Seawolves, who were eighth in America East in points per game, averaging 59.8 per contest. A positive was that they were second best in scoring defense (allowing 64.3 ppg), but when you struggle to put the ball in the basket you’re going to have a tough time improving your win totals. But with four starters back on campus, including 3rd team All-America East selection Ricky Lucas (15.1 ppg, 5.0 rpg), Stony Brook has the opportunity to move up the America East standings. Lucas, in his first year after transferring from George Washington, became the Seawolves’ unquestioned primary option on offense.
Joining him in the backcourt will be Mitchell Beauford (12.2 ppg, 2.7 apg) and Eddie Castellanos (3.8 ppg). Beauford is a capable second option on the offensive end of the floor, and he was a third team all conference selection back in 2005-06. And while Castellanos isn’t much of a scoring threat, he was second on the team in assists last season. Also looking for minutes in the backcourt will be sophomore Marcus Robinson and newcomers Jermol Paul (freshman; Palm Beach, FL), Nick Carter (junior; Suffolk CC) and Michael Tyree (junior; Franklin Seward CC).
The frontcourt is where the questions with this team may lie. Emanuel Neto (4.8 ppg, 5.5 rpg) returns for his final campaign, but to of the other returnees counted on to help Neto out didn’t see much playing time last year. Sophomore Rio Pitt (6-7, 210) missed eleven games last season, and when he was available only played seven minutes per contest. Junior forward/ center Andrew Goba (6-9, 190) played just under ten minutes per contest in twenty-five games last season. The lack of experience up front give the two newcomers (JUCO transfer Demetrius Young and freshman Chris Martin) a legitimate opportunity to earn serious playing time. And when you factor in the loss of the team’s second-best rebounder (Mike Popoko- 8.8 ppg, 5.0 rpg) to graduation, this group will have to make some big strides this year.
Looking at the schedule, Stony Brook will have some challenges before they hit non-conference play, beginning with the opener at Villanova (November 9th). Other non-conference games of note include road tilts with Kentucky (November 27th) and Hofstra (December 12th), and home games against Columbia (November 24th) and Cornell (December 29th). In America East play, Stony Brook will open play with three straight home games (UMBC, Maine and Albany), only to have three straight road games in early February (Albany, UMBC and Boston University).
While the Seawolves could indeed improve upon their nine wins this season, making a significant move up the America East ladder could prove to be tough due to the lack of experience behind the four returning starters. Plus, the one starter not coming back, Mike Popoko could be tough to replace because of his ability to score some points as well as rebound. In order for the offensive production to improve, someone other than Lucas and Beauford needs to become a viable scoring option. And the newcomers will need to provide some quality depth, and a little scoring punch wouldn’t hurt their chances either. Expect double-digit wins for the Seawolves in 2007-08, but not a top half of America East finish.