Monday, November 26, 2012

Seawolves Win On Super Saturday (Recap of Canisius vs. Stony Brook)

Being able to come to New York for Thanksgiving to see my wife and kids gave me the opportunity on Saturday to see one of my favorite teams, the Stony Brook Seawolves. The Seawolves were hosting the Canisus Golden Griffins as part of Stony Brook's Super Saturday.  The men's basketball game was moved up to a noon start time because the football team was hosting a game of their own, a FBS playoff game vs. Villanova.

If you follow Stony Brook Athletics, you could say it was not just a Super Saturday, but a Super Year for the Seawolves.  In the beginning of the year, the men's basketball team won the America East Regular Season Championship, then lost in the tournament final at home to Vermont.  It was their only loss of the season at home, but they did get a NIT bid, their second in the past three seasons.

Then the baseball team had one of the more amazing runs ever in the history of NCAA Division I college baseball postseason.  The Seawolves stunned LSU in Baton Rouge to qualify for the College World Series.  Now the football team was hosting another playoff game after making the Football Subdivision playoffs last season.

As noted, the men's team has been very successful the last three seasons.  Including the two NIT appearances in the 2009-10 and 2011-12 seasons, the Seawolves also made the America East championship game in the 2010-11 season as well.  Stony Brook would lose that game in the last seconds to Boston University.  Coach Steve Pikiell has built a strong program and he is looking to finally break the glass ceiling and make the NCAA Tournament this season with a veteran team.

Pikiell's 2012-13 Seawolves have several returning players including Dave Coley, Ron Bracey, Anthony Jackson, Marcus Rouse and Alex McAllister.  But the one returning player my color analyst,aka my seven year old son Matthew, was looking forward to see again was the preseason America East Player of the Year, senior forward Tommy Brenton, the hardest working man in college basketball.

Brenton is a man in constant motion. He averages five assists per game. If he is not setting up a player for a basket, he is setting a pick, or blocking out for a rebound, or hustling for a loose ball. Or in the case of the beginning of this game, Brenton was causing turnovers.  Brenton caused a turnover by pressuring a Golden Griffin player to step out of bounds on the opening tip.  He then stole the ball another two times early in the game.  Meanwhile, Jackson buried two three pointers and the Seawolves were up 11-2 not even four minutes into the game.

A season ago, this likely would have been another thrashing for Canisius.  Last season, the Golden Griffins team won all of five games.  But in the offseason, Tom Parrotta was fired and former Rhode Island coach, Jimmy Baron was brought in.  Baron brought his son Billy with him. The Barons already have given the Canisius faithful some hope.  The Golden Griffins came into the game undefeated at 3-0 with wins over Boston University, Saint Bonaventure and Buffalo.

Canisius showed why they are 3-0 by responding with a 12-3 run over the next four plus minutes. The Griffs, as they are known as, used their size advantage with Jordan Heath and Freddy Asprilla.  The Canisius big men helped cut the deficit to one, 15-14.

But a Stony Brook big man responded with a run of his own.  Freshman Jameel Warney would score the next nine Seawolves points. His three point play would make the score 24-14 with just less than nine minutes left.  Varney is quite impressive, with good post moves, a nice touch, relentless on the glass and plays as if he is a junior or senior.  Pikiell has a real find in the six foot eight inch forward from Plainfield, New Jersey.

A Rouse three extended the Stony Brook lead to 27-16.  But Canisius refused to go away.  Led by Harold Washington, Alshwan Hymes and Billy Baron, the Griffs and cut the lead down to six.  The Seawolves would lead 36-30 at the half.

Early on in the second half, my color analyst pointed out to me something that I believe would lead to some chippy play and frustrations later on in the half.  About three and a half minutes into the second half, Matthew pointed out to the scoreboard and said "They already have five fouls?!" Sure enough, the Griffs had been called for five fouls and the Seawolves only one.  A few Griffs' fans behind me had been chirping about the foul calls the entire game.

This might have led to some tempers flaring when Coley and Jordan Heath had an altercation near the Canisius basket after a foul by Carson Puriefoy.  Simultaneous technical fouls were called on Coley and Heath.  Also, Griffs' freshman Tyrel Edwards was ejected for leaving the bench.  Billy Baron made two free throws and Canisius was now down only two 43-41.

But Brenton and Warney made sure the Griffs would get no closer.  Led by the senior and the freshman, the Seawolves went on a 15-3 run over the next four minutes.  It would be capped by a floater from the freshman Puriefoy. I remember watching his dad, who was a three year starting guard at Bucknell and  I have got to know over Twitter (@CarsonPuriefoy).  His dad came over to meet me before the game.  As I noted on Twitter, it was my honor to meet him.

During this run, Coach Baron received a technical, likely frustrated by the foul call situation.  But his team did not lose its fighting spirit.  The Griffs would cut the lead down to six with a little over a minute left.  But Canisius would not get any closer as the Seawolves would hit their free throws, going 27 of 31 for the game.  Stony Brook would lead wire to wire and win 82-75.

Brenton, was the ultimate stat sheet stuffer on the day.  He just missed a double double with nine points, fourteen rebounds, six assists and three steals.  Jackson led Stony Brook with twenty one points. Warney added eighteen points while Coley contributed fourteen points.  The Seawolves also outrebounded the Griffs 40-26.

Billy Baron led all scorers with twenty two points, including ten of eleven from the free throw line. Jordan Heath had fifteen points and Washington added fourteen. The Griffs are now 3-1 on the season.

On Super Saturday, the men's basketball team held up their end of the bargain. Then the football team held up their end as well, defeating Villanova 20-10 in the first round of the Football Subdivision playoffs.  Miguel Maysonet, the nation's leading rusher in yards per game, had one hundred and sixty yards rushing.

For Stony Brook, it was truly a Super Saturday.

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