Most of the time freshman Deshaun Thrower has been thrown out on the floor against junior Carson Puriefoy in practice. The two have been running the white and red teams, respectively, as Stony Brook head coach Steve Pikiell wants to acclimate Michigan’s Mr. Basketball into the point guard role.
“He’s going to be a one and a two for us,” Pikiell said. “Physically he’s ready to go, so he doesn’t have those same adjustments that other freshmen have.”
Thrower averaged just over 18 points per game and six assists per game while being named the best player in the state of Michigan, but the coaching staff has been sure to put him through tougher times in practice to teach him to play point guard. Pikiell said he is confident that he will make the slide over to shooting guard beside Puriefoy to start the season, but would just like to get him adjusted to the college level.
“I’m excited about D, I think he’s going to have a great career here, but he’s got a lot to learn about college basketball,” Pikiell said. “Just trying to get him from a high school players mentality, now to take it to that college level mentality of those players that he’s going to get ready to guard. He’s going to have a learning curve and stuff, but he’s going to get thrown to the wolves.”
Two years ago, Puriefoy came in as a freshman and struggled early and often in practice against Anthony Jackson and the older guards. In his first season, Puriefoy said he struggled taking criticism from the coaching staff, the same criticisms he sees Thrower going through now.
“I’m trying to be that person to him to show him what to do, take criticism the right way because I didn’t do it well as a freshman,” Puriefoy said. “He needs to work on that kind of stuff and I’m happy that I can be that person to bring him along.”
Early in his career Puriefoy struggled to stay on the court, but in the second half of his freshman season he shined and showed the potential that now leads to him being picked first team All-America East to start his junior year.
“I’m trying to tell him you need to be a leader, you need to take everything in stride, you need to listen, watch film, got to be in the gym and everything will fall into place,” Puriefoy said. “I learned that from AJ, he’s a hard worker, you work hard and the results will come.”
Stony Brook will be looking to have the results come early as they will be relying on plenty of freshmen to help carry a team talented enough to be picked first in the America East during the preseason. Pikiell said he has seen freshman Bryan Sekunda be one of his best shooters in the preseason as he has rebounded from an ACL injury that cost him his senior year in high school. When asked if he had considered redshirting anyone, like last season when he redshirted Roland Nyama, Pikiell said he unsure if he will sit anyone out this season.
“It may be one of those years where we redshirt Lucas Woodhouse because he has to be and that’s fine,” Pikiell said. Woodhouse ranked fifth in the country in assists per game last season as a sophomore at Longwood. He will have to sit out the 2014-15 season due to NCAA transfer rules.
Ryan Restivo wrote the America East conference preview for the 2014-15 Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook. He covers the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, the America East conference and Hofstra for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanarestivo or contact Ryan at rrestivo[at]nycbuckets.com.