For a team that played tradionally as a defensive team, the 2013-14 Stony Brook Seawolves have figured out a new way to win games.
Mostly thanks to the new rules to expand scoring, Stony Brook’s defense has regressed with an increase in fouling, but the offensive production as increased significantly. This season the Seawolves average 74.1 points per game, a six point increase compared to last season’s 68 points per game.
“We can really score on that end of the floor,” Stony Brook head coach Steve Pikiell said. “In years past we had to win one way, I think we can win two ways now.”
For most of the season, the Seawolves have managed to win by averaging just under 1.08 points per possession and playing a tempo just over three possessions faster. They have done that while seeing just about every different type of defensive look, from man-to-man, trapping styles, to every type of zone.
“I feel like our offense has out shown our defense a little bit,” redshirt freshman Ahmad Walker said Saturday after scoring a career-high 18 points against UMass Lowell. “We’re a defensive minded program, but our offense has been playing really well. It’s a different team than last year at a point, and the fact that we have more players that can score the ball and make plays.”
Four players average double-digit points per game and, after senior Anthony Jackson sat for three games due to a violation of team rules, senior Dave Coley broke out as a scorer. On Monday, Coley scored a career-high 21 points at UMBC after scoring 20 points in two of the previous three games.
Now that Jackson has returned, with an 11 point performance off the bench at UMBC, the Seawolves offense will continue to be potent around leading scorer and rebounder Jameel Warney. The sophomore leads the team with 15.7 points per game and is grabbing nine rebounds per game.
“We can score with anybody in our conference, but we just have to strap it on defense,” Warney said after registering his seventh double-double of the season against UMass Lowell. “I thought last two games, against Hartford and Binghamton, that we were making a step forward, but today we need a minor adjustment in our defense.”
Last season the Seawolves defense allowed just 57.5 points per game, but this year the new rules have curbed the team’s physical play. Stony Brook has allowed exactly 10 more points per game this season and just under 1.03 points per possession compared to 0.93 points per possession last season.
“Our offense has become more prevalent than our defense, but I think our defense is coming along really well,” Walker said. “We’ve been able to defend and hold teams under 50 points in the last couple games.”
Stony Brook’s defense has held teams to under 60 points just five times this season, though through five conference games the Seawolves have allowed 0.86 points per possession.
“We have to continue to work,” Pikiell said of getting his team to learn how to defend better. “[Walker] is getting better on the defense end and he defends a lot of people. I think Jameel [Warney] is getting better on all his screen coverages, Dave [Coley] traditionally has been our best perimeter defender and Eric [McAlister] has been our best post defender.”
“I like where we’re headed. I think this team has a chance to be pretty good.”
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.