As the America East preseason rankings and first team were revealed, only one Stony Brook name was on it.
Only Jameel Warney was named to the all-conference team when the polls revealed the Seawolves as the team to beat in the conference. Coaches of the conference picked seemingly New Hampshire’s Tanner Leissner over Seawolves senior Carson Puriefoy for their first team. No one could have been surprsied more than the 6′ senior, who made the first team All-America East last season.
“I think I’m one of the best players in the league, but it’s preseason,” Puriefoy said. “We were picked first the past three years, preseason number one, we don’t really concern ourselves with preseason accolades and stuff like that, we try to focus on this upcoming season and what we need to do to come out on top. Yes, I was surprised, but there was great players on that list. I wish them the best of luck this year and we’re going to handle business when we need to.”
Head coach Steve Pikiell said that he told his 6′ senior guard that all that matters is who is on the team at the end of the season, which is where Puriefoy landed in March.
“I don’t know how he got off the team when he was on it last year,” Pikiell said. “He had a hell of a summer, so I don’t know how that works, but that’s how it is.”
The Seawolves know how close they were last season, separated by 1.6 seconds and a Peter Hooley three-pointer from reaching their first NCAA tournament. Warney said he has not watched the final play since that day.
“I just can’t watch it,” Warney said. “I couldn’t watch SportsCenter for a whole week.”
Warney knows he tipped the ball out in the game’s final seconds that found Hooley’s hand that sealed the Seawolves’ fate. In three seasons, the Seawolves seniors have been to the last two championship games, and only have one more chance to get back and earn a championship.
“We know what we need to do to get to that point in time, we’ve done it multiple times,” Puriefoy said. “It’s all about finishing, that’s really the theme of this year; we need to finish plays, we need to finish games, we need to be able to just finish everything.”
The difference for this season’s team is the Seawolves, who won 23 games last season, is they add Longwood transfer Lucas Woodhouse and junior college transfer Ahmad Walker, who played two seasons ago at Stony Brook.
“I mean he’s a real good defender first and foremost, which I’m really excited about,” Pikiell said of Woodhouse, whose assist rate ranked 9th according to KenPom in 2014. “I knew he was a terrific passer.”
“He just sees the floor, he thinks about passing, makes plays for people. He’s a different kind of player than we’ve had, Tommy Brenton was a lot like that and he’s like Tommy Brenton at the point.”
The Seawolves also return Walker, who said he was pulling for the team when he watched them fall in the America East championship on TV at Barton CC. The return of Walker brings the added benefit of a player already accustomed to the system and who made the All-Rookie team in his last season with Stony Brook.
“I think he’s the best defender in the league,” Pikiell said. “He makes plays. He’s probably our next best passer after Lucas.”
Ryan Restivo wrote the America East conference preview for the 2015-16 Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook. He covers the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, the America East conference among others for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanarestivo or contact Ryan at rrestivo[at]nycbuckets.com.