Pikiell on Stony Brook’s Non-Conference Lessons

The Stony Brook Seawolves may be on the path for their fourth 20-win season in six seasons under head coach Steve Pikiell thanks to an 8-6 start in non-conference play.

While they were unable to notch a win over a team with over an RPI of 150, Pikiell said the non-conference slate prepared them for every type of matchup they might face.

Jameel Warney made three of his five free throws on Saturday.
Sophomore Jameel Warney leads the team with 15.9 points per game and 8.8 rebounds per game while usually succeeding over double or even triple-teams.

“We played every style that you could play,” Pikiell said. “No matter who we play moving forward, how they’re going to play, we’ve played a team like it so I’ve got film to go over.”

“We played teams that double-teamed Jameel [Warney]. We played teams that have triple teamed him. We’ve seen everything and that’s what I feel good about, there’s nothing that we can see now in league play that we haven’t already seen before.”

Stony Brook was able to learn about almost every way opponents could plan to attack their offensive options; mainly how they tried to stop sophomore Jameel Warney with 15.9 points per game and 8.8 rebounds per game.

“He’s getting a lot of touches and he’s our best passer,” Pikiell said  “Guys know to get him the basketball and he’s doing a good job. We’re playing him more minutes than last year too and he’s learned early here to stay out of foul trouble, but teams are going to counter, they’ve countered every different way and that’s the good part. I’ll be in timeouts and I’ll just say ‘hey Jameel, they’re playing you exactly the same way they played you at Loyola, so this is the action we’re going to run,’ and he’s like, ‘I gotcha, and if I get doubled, I’m kicking it out.'”

The ninth year head coach said that he has shortened his rotation this season, mostly out of necessity as well as because of a roster that includes nine combined freshmen and sophomores. Pikiell said he has had to rely more on his seniors Anthony Jackson, Dave Coley and Eric McAlister as well as the sophomore Warney to play more minutes.

“Last year was such a veteran team, we had four seniors that I could throw them in the game, I could call a play from two years ago and they would know it. Now this year, if I put a guy in the game, they don’t know it, so it’s just different,” Pikiell said. “Our bench was deeper last year than this year, although I think it will grow in league play here down the stretch.”

Pikiell said he would look to get more from freshman Chris Braley while trying to get minutes out of Rayshaun McGrew, Scott King, Anthony Mayo as well as his “6th starter” Carson Puriefoy.

One theme through conference play, evident against La Salle at Madsion Square Garden in December, was the Seawolves offense going cold for three and a half minutes as the Explorers pulled away for a 65-57 win. However, Pikiell said the offensive droughts do not concern him as much as the team’s inability to get stops on defense.

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Steve Pikiell’s team won five of their six non-conference home games at Pritchard Gym.

“We have gone through droughts where we used to be able to just lock teams up,” Pikiell said. “We’ve had halves where we’ve been great defensively, but we haven’t really strung together a game defensively.”

The new rules have had a significant impact on how the Seawolves defend, the team has had to switch to playing more 1-3-1 zone and a Stony Brook player has fouled out 11 times this season. While trying to adjust defensively, Pikiell has had to adjust to the Seawolves offense being the strength that can carry them through games.

“We can really score on that end of the floor and that hasn’t been the case in years past, we had to win one way, I think we can win two ways now,” Pikiell said. “We scored 100 points in games, we can never put up those kind of numbers, I do know our defensive numbers aren’t as good too because we score better.”

“We score better, quicker and so we’re on offense less, so you’re going to give up higher defensive numbers because you’re going to give up more. Last year we would run the clock down, we could grind you, we’re just a little bit different. I think we’re evolving too as a program; I think we’re getting better offensive players to come here. I think as you get better offensive players, now we really have to teach them how to be great defensive players.”

The Seawolves rank 100th in the country on the offensive end, putting up 1.07 points per possession – their highest rate in the Pikiell era.

Ryan Restivo covers the America East conference, the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, and Hofstra for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanarestivo or contact Ryan at rrestivo[at]nycbuckets.com.

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