There is one lasting impression both coaches gave after Stony Brook outlasted Hofstra on Sunday: they enjoy these local rivalry games.
The Seawolves beat Hofstra for the first time since 2007 as the two teams have split their first two meetings in their revived series, which renewed last season after a five season hiatus.
“I would love to play more schools,” Stony Brook head coach Steve Pikiell said when asked about playing more local teams. “The person on the other line has got to say yes. You could make as many calls as you want, but it’s sometimes difficult.”
“I’m just thankful. I think this is a good series and I really do believe it helps college, but it helps high school basketball too to have the two teams playing so again. I’m thankful that Hofstra started the series.”
That answer led to an eager follow up question whether or not other locals such as Iona or Manhattan would be interested in playing in an event with other locals, to which Pikiell joked, “it all sounds good, who can get that done in here? Who can get that done? It’s above my level.”
Stony Brook as part of their 13 game non-conference schedule are playing three local Division I schools in Hofstra, Columbia and NJIT. The Seawolves have had trouble attracting opponents to play them at Island Federal Credit Union Arena. They only have five non-conference home games this season. On the other hand, Hofstra was only able to schedule the Seawolves and their home non-conference finale against Sacred Heart as their only two local opponents in 12 non-conference games.
“I’m from Philadelphia, so I have that ingrained in me that you play each other,” Hofstra head coach Mihalich said, who played and coached at La Salle as an assistant. “You can’t be like, oh they’re going to be good this year I don’t want to play them, it all balances out.”
Mihalich, who coached at Niagara before going to Hofstra, is used to playing local rivals. While with the Purple Eagles, the school would play non-conference rivals Buffalo and St. Bonaventure in addition to playing MAAC rival Canisius twice.
“We should play each other, it’s good, it’s great for the area,” Mihalich said. “I think it hurts New York City college basketball when we all don’t play each other because there’s some really good teams. There’s good natural rivalries; whether it’s Hofstra and Stony Brook, Manhattan, Fordham, Iona, St. John’s, but we don’t play each other. I don’t get it.”
Hofstra played Appalachian State at Madison Square Garden as part of the Holiday Festival, but Mihalich insisted the Pride were angling for a local team to fill that spot in their game. St. John’s played the first game of the two-game event, where they beat St. Francis Brooklyn.
“We tried like crazy to get a local team to play there and nobody wanted to do it,” Mihalich said, adding he “tried everybody” for that Dec. 6 game.
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.