Tag: Steve Pikiell

stony brook

Stony Brook works toward NCAA appearance after DII transition

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source: AP

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Stony Brook has slowly built its men’s basketball program into a respectable annual postseason contender.

They just haven’t made the NCAA Tournament and drawn a lot of national attention.

But the vision is there for a successful long-term Division I basketball program.

If you look at the profile of head coach Steve Pikiell’s program during his 10 seasons as coach, and the history of Stony Brook basketball, you’ll see they’re on an impressive run.

Four out of the past five seasons have resulted in at least 20 wins and postseason appearances, three of those times in the NIT for the Seawolves. They’ve had three of the last five America East Players of the Year, led most recently by junior forward Jameel Warney, who won the award as a sophomore.

The problem is, Stony Brook has fallen short the last couple of seasons of making the field of 68 and they’ve watched teams like Albany and Vermont make multiple postseason appearances from the league.

Pikiell and Warney hope that changes this year. Stony Brook fell just short again last season, falling in the America East Conference Tournament title game at home against Albany, but they have no seniors on the roster and a talented group of returnees.

Warney is one of the most impressive mid-major front-court players in the nation. The 6-foot-8 junior forward averaged 14.5 points and 8 rebounds on 61 percent field goal shooting as a sophomore and worked very hard this summer. Pikiell said it was Warney’s first full summer on-campus in the weight room and he’s added muscle while losing weight.

“It’s his team now. He’s in as good as shape as he’s ever been in. He’s added a 15-foot jump shot to his game,” Pikiell told NBCSports.com. “He’s young. He came in as a young freshman and I think he’s really matured the last couple years. I think he has a chance to be a really terrific player on the national level, too.”

RELATED: America East Conference Preview

Warney returns along with fellow junior Carson “Tre” Purifoy, who averaged 12.9 points last season and shot 43 percent from three-point range, as well as German import and redshirt freshman Roland Nyama, a 6-foot-6 wing who Pikiell called, “as athletic as any player we’ve had in the program.”

The urgency is there to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time because Stony Brook has historically never achieved success for any sustained number of years in men’s basketball. The Division III run produced some 20-win seasons and the Division II years only produced two total winning seasons.

In the first 10 seasons as a Division I program, since 1999, Stony Brook only had two winning seasons.

So this latest run of 20-win seasons and postseason appearances is historic for the school and a NCAA Tournament appearance for the first time in school history would be big for the sustained future of the program.

“I’m most proud of where it started off (to now),” Pikiell said. “We had spots of success at Division III. At Division II we really struggled and then we jumped into Division I. I’m really proud to win 20 games and play in postseasons, which is not something we’ve ever done.”

The recent success has helped give the program unprecedented momentum as they move into a new 4,000 seat arena this season from a 1,700 seat arena. Pikiell said that season ticket numbers in his 10 years as head coach have jumped from 40 to 2,000 as the fan base is clearly enjoying this new era of success.

“It’s amazing. Now that it’s here more fans can come so we’re just excited,” Warney said. “Every year it keeps getting better and better. More fans; more support. It gets louder and louder.”

Success at Stony Brook would mean as much to Pikiell as anybody. He started his 10-year run as head coach with a four-win season, oversaw a program on probation, had academic casualties and didn’t sustain a winning record until year four.

Unlike a lot of administrations of Division I men’s basketball programs, Stony Brook stuck with Pikiell and their shared long-term plan to make the Seawolves successful.

Stony Brook finally reaching a national stage would mean the vision worked.

Stony Brook rewards Steve Pikiell with contract extension through 2019

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In ten seasons as the head coach at Stony Brook, Steve Pikiell has amassed a record of 141 wins and 132 losses. That may not look all that impressive at first glance, but a deeper look into those numbers reveal just how good of a job Pikiell has done at the America East school.

Stony Brook’s finished above .500 in five of the last six seasons, winning at least 22 games in four of those campaigns. Also included in this current run of success are three regular season America East titles, with the Seawolves going 62-18 in conference play over the last five seasons. And with that being the case, interim athletic director Donna Woodruff announced Wednesday that Pikiell’s been rewarded with a contract extension through the 2018-19 season.

“Steve has always been an exemplary leader of our Stony Brook men’s basketball program, and I am thrilled to know that he will be leading our student-athletes to future success as we move forward,” Woodruff said in the release. “With the integrity and class that he demonstrates day in and day out, he is truly one of the great ambassadors for University and our Department of Athletics.”

Stony Brook won 23 games last season and reached the final of the America East tournament, where they fell to NCAA tournament participant Albany. The Seawolves will have to account for the loss of two double-digit scorers in guards David Coley and Anthony Jackson, but they’ll return rising juniors Carson Puriefoy and Jameel Warney in 2014-15. And in Warney, Pikiell will have a player who will likely be the preseason choice to win America East Player of the Year.

Warney, who was 2012-13 America East Rookie of the Year, averaged 14.5 points and 8.0 rebounds per game as a sophomore with ten double-doubles. One of those ten double-double performances came in a 104-102 win at Detroit, with Warney tallying 32 points and 21 rebounds.

With the experienced tandem of Warney and Puriefoy leading the way for Pikiell, Stony Brook will once again contend in America East.

Stony Brook hangs on against Vermont, moves to 6-0 in America East

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With the top two teams in the America East doing battle, it should come as no surprise that this one came down to the final possessions.

What may have been a surprise, however, is Stony Brook relinquishing a 17 point lead with 16 minutes remaining, and nearly giving the game away at the end with missed free throws. Vermont had three three-point opportunities in the final 16 seconds, but none would fall; the final effort by Ethan O’Day clanked off the rim.

Stony Brook head coach Steve Pikiell will be happy with this win, but probably not satisfied. He will have left the floor tonight breathing a sigh of relief, not pounding his chest. When he watches the game tape from the second half, he will find the staunch defense that Stony Brook threw at Vermont in the first half suddenly evaporated.

All that said, he just beat Vermont — the only other undefeated team in the league. As such, is there such thing as an ugly or bad win?

The Catamounts trailed 50-33 when the under 16 media timeout hit, but went on a quick 13-0 run over roughly a five minute stretch to close the gap. Ethan O’Day caught fire, scoring on four consecutive possessions to bring the deficit within single-digits.

Give the Seawolves credit, however; they didn’t flinch. A Jameel Warney layup and consecutive three-pointers by Anthony Jackson pushed the lead up to nine. While Vermont would continue to make runs, they never got over the hump and took the lead — Stony Brook never folded.

Pikiell and Vermont head coach John Becker wouldn’t tell you this, but their teams are — far and away — the two best teams in the league. Albany and Hartford are both solid and will challenge, but are a notch below.

These two America East juggernauts won’t meet again until late February in Burlington. The Seawolves held serve at home, but heading north is never easy, where they haven’t come away with a win since the 2009-10 season.