Sunday, November 7, 2010

Stony Brook men trying to be top-shelf


Here's the striving-to-be-top-shelf imagery for Stony Brook men's basketball:

When Steve Pikiell arrived as coach six years ago, envisioning a unlikely leap to an NCAA Tournament berth for a school not far removed from Division III competition, he installed three small shelves in his office, one slightly higher than the other. On the lowest, he would place a basketball commemorating his first victory as coach. (Done Jan 2, 2006, in his 10th game.) On the second, a basketball marking Stony Brook's first league title in Division I. (Realized last spring.)

"And now we've got to get that NCAA ball," he said last week. "Every time the guys come in here and tell me how hard they're working, I just point to that [last empty] shelf and say, 'If you're working that hard, we'd have that ball up there already.' "

Given Stony Brook's America East regular-season championship in 2009-10 and its breakthrough NIT appearance against Illinois, this looked like the year. Except that Stony Brook's most influential player - demon rebounder/slick passer/gritty defender Tommy Brenton - is out with a dislocated knee suffered in an off-season pickup game. (On the shelf for injured players.)

Plus the team's leading scorer, Muhammed El-Amin, has graduated and gone off to play professionally in Hungary.

Pikiell acknowledged having to "take a little different approach" in terms of goals. "Now," he said, "we've got to have a good weekend" - meaning a run of victories through the conference postseason conference tournament.

That still would get Stony Brook into The Dance, no matter what in-season struggles it experiences, and that is enough hope for an energetic optimist such as Pikiell.

Freshmen Dave Coley, Anthony Mayo and Anthony Jackson and junior college transfer Al Rapier bring "a new talent level," Pikiell said. And that televised NIT game last March translated into more exposure this season - nine TV games - so that "when we make phone calls now," he said, "people have heard of us."

When he tells potential recruits, "We're going to compete for the league title and try to get to the NCAA Tournament," he said, "these things are realistic now; four years ago, I was selling that vision. We didn't have any tradition in Division I. We didn't have any track record.

"The biggest thing in our program's improvement is that my phone never rings for scheduling. Never rings. When I first got here, I'm not kidding, I would take four scheduling calls a day. 'We want to play you. We'll come to your place. We'll play you three times. We'll sign a six-year contract.' "

Teams no longer sure they can beat Stony Brook have stopped calling. "So we'll try to sell that now," Pikiell said. "We'll play anybody."

Starting, on Friday, at UConn.

Help is arriving for Stony Brook women


To the rescue, for Stony Brook women's basketball, come a trio of transfers and a potential scoring threat lost to injury last season.

To the rescue, for Stony Brook women's basketball, come a trio of transfers and a potential scoring threat lost to injury last season. By taking some of the heavy lifting off the shoulders of senior Kirsten Jeter, it could mean a decided step up from a 10-20 season that ended in the America East semifinals.

Jeter, the 5-10 forward from Elmont, led the team in scoring (14.4) and rebounding (7.5) last season. But the anticipation for coach Michele Cherry's team is that newcomers Juanita Cochran and Whitney Davis will provide a decided boost.

Cochran is a 6-2 center from Saginaw, Mich., by way of the University of New Orleans. Davis is a 5-10 junior forward/guard from Muskegon, Mich., who played for Muskegon Community College last season.

Cochran averaged 5.3 points and 6.0 rebounds and blocked 32 shots for New Orleans last season. Davis was a second-team junior college All-American at Muskegon, leading her conference in scoring with 17.7 points and 12.8 rebounds per game.

A third transfer, guard/forward Talisha Bridges, also comes to Stony Brook from New Orleans. And Jodie Plikus, a 5-8 senior guard from Waterford, Conn., returns after missing the last season and a half because of illness. Some success from behind the three-point line as a freshman and sophomore makes Plikus' return intriguing for a team that likes a fast pace.

Added depth and experience are a blessing for Cherry's up-tempo style, which dips deep into a playing rotation, so returning sophomores Sam Landers, Amanda Corona and Dani Klupunger again will get their share of minutes. Senior Misha Horsey, second in scoring and first in assists last season, again will trigger the attack at point guard.

Stony Brook will open its season against Troy on Friday in a two-game mini-tournament in Elon, N.C., before returning home to play Hofstra on Nov. 18. Conference play will begin Jan. 3 against Maryland-Baltimore County.

Volleyball Tops UMBC in Five-Set Thriller

Stony Brook, N.Y. - Trailing 13-9 in the fifth and deciding set, the Stony Brook University volleyball team scored six straight points to capture a 3-2 (16-25, 25-17, 20-25, 27-25, 15-13) victory over the UMBC Retrievers on Sunday afternoon at Pritchard Gymnasium. Stony Brook honored its two seniors- Jeanette Gibbs (Port Jefferson, N.Y.) and Ashley Headen (Alexandria, Va.) prior to the match.

Junior Alicia Nelson (Apple Valley, Minn.) led the Seawolves (11-15, 6-4 AE) with 19 kills while Gibbs recorded a game-high 29 digs including the 1,000th of her career. Headen had 10 kills to go along with six service aces for the Seawolves, who won their third straight match.

UMBC (10-15, 6-4 AE) jumped to a 10-6 lead in the fifth set but the Seawolves rallied to within 11-9 on a kill from sophomore Greta Strenger (Woodbury, Minn.). UMBC responded by scoring the next two points to take the 13-9 lead.

Gibbs and freshman Evann Slaughter (Clinton, Md.) answered with back-to-back kills though before an attack error from Iman Kennedy forced a UMBC timeout. Freshman Kaitlin Costello (Webster, N.Y.) followed with a kill before another kill from Slaughter gave Stony Brook a 14-13 advantage.

UMBC then called another timeout but a block solo from Slaughter on the next point ended the match. Slaughter finished the match with 12 kills and six blocks.

The Retrievers got off a quick start, grabbing a 14-8 lead in the opening set. The Seawolves closed within 16-15 but that it as close as they would get as UMBC ended the set on a 6-0 run to take a 1-0 lead. But the Seawolves rebounded in the second set, jumping to a 19-9 lead on its way to an eight-point set two victory. Nelson had five kills in the set for SBU, which hit .394.

UMBC took an early four-point lead in the third set before the Seawolves went on a 15-7 run to take a 19-15 lead. But the Retrievers ended the set on a 10-1 run to take a 2-1 lead.

Set four was close all the way and featured nine ties and five lead changes. The Retrievers looked to be on their way to victory as they opened up their largest lead of the set, 20-16, on a Stony Brook attack error.

Stony Brook closed within 21-20 on a Costello kill before tying the match at 22 on Nelson kill. Nelson followed with another kill to give SBU the lead before a UMBC attack error got the Seawolves within a point of leveling the match at two.

But UMBC rallied, tying it at 24 on an SBU attack error. But, with the score tied at 25, Stony Brook got a kill and a block solo from Slaughter to send it to the fifth set. Nelson had eight kills in fourth set/

The Seawolves now close the regular season with two road matches, beginning with a contest against Binghamton on Friday at 7 p.m.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Coulter Throws Four TDs In Football's 37-7 Win Over Presbyterian

Clinton, S.C. - Junior Michael Coulter (Yorba Linda, Calif.) threw a collegiate-high four touchdowns passes, two to Jordan Gush (Richardson, Texas), as the Stony Brook football team routed Presbyterian, 37-7. The Seawolves are 4-0 in the Big South for the second straight season and 12-3 all-time in Big South games.

Coulter threw for TDs of 10, 48, 7 and 23 yards. He completed 12 of 20 passes for 212 yards and has not thrown an interception in the last five games, which Stony Brook is 4-1 in. He also has thrown a touchdown in 15 of the last 16 games, and has thrown at least one TD in all but three games during his Seawolves' career.

The last Stony Brook quarterback to throw at least four touchdowns in a game was Josh Dudash '08, who threw five against Robert Morris in 2005.

Sophomore Miguel Maysonet (Riverhead, N.Y.) rushed for 130 yards on 20 carries and surpassed 1,000 yards for the season. He recorded his team-leading 11th touchdown this season, a seven-yard TD catch from Coulter. The Seawolves rushed for more than 200 yards for the sixth time this season, and had two 100-yard rushers for the third time this season.

The Seawolves (5-4, 4-0 Big South) outgained the Blue Hose (1-8, 1-4 Big South), 509-176. Stony Brook had 21 first downs to Presbyterian's 10. Stony Brook also dominated time of possession (35:22-24:38).

It was the third straight game with at least five touchdowns for SBU.

"We're getting close," head coach Chuck Priore said. "I think you can see this team is playing with confidence. We're playing with no fear in our minds, and we're continuing to build on something."

Stony Brook scored on its first drive of the second quarter. On the first play, Gush caught a 14-yard pass from Coulter, setting the Seawolves up with first down on the Presbyterian 49. On third and 11 from the 50, Coulter hit senior Michael Lepore (Brick, N.J.) for a 10-yard play before Coulter kept the ball on a one-yard keep for a first down.

After converting a second third down during the drive, Gush caught a nine-yard pass to the 13. After Maysonet's six-yard rush, he caught his second touchdown pass of the season, a seven-yard TD in the flat.

Junior Brock Jackolski (Shirley, N.Y.), the Big South's leader in all-purpose yards, took the opening kick of the second half 63 yards to the Presbyterian 26. On third and long from the 28, Coulter hit Lepore for 10 yards, setting up fourth and two, which Maysonet rushed off left guard for six yards. Two plays later, Coulter hit Gush in the right corner of the end zone for the score.

The score became 16-0 after Presbyterian had a bad snap on a punt, and the ball went out of the end zone.

Gush returned the free kick 29 yards to the Presbyterian 48. On the first play, Coulter hit Lepore for the 48-yard touchdown. It was the first touchdown of Lepore's collegiate career and the fifth time this season Stony Brook has scored on the opening play of a drive.

Up 23-0, the Seawolves went six plays in 65 yards, capped by Gush's 23-yard TD.

Redshirt freshman Vincent Polo (Wantagh, N.Y.) also tallied his first career touchdown when he ran 10 yards up the middle for a touchdown. The Seawolves gained the ball deep in Presbyterian following a blocked punt by junior Roosevelt Kirk (Oakland, Calif.).

Stony Brook will host Gardner-Webb in its final regular-season home game of the season. Kick-off is 1:00 p.m.

Men's Soccer Blanks Vermont, Advances to Semifinals

Raphael Abreu and Berian Gobeil Cruz each picked up their sixth goals of the season, lifting the Stony Brook men's soccer team to a 2-0 win over Vermont in the first round of the America East Championship Saturday evening at LaValle Stadium.

The No. 3 seeded Seawolves, who improved to 10-6-3 on the season, advance to Wednesday's semifinal match at No. 2 seed UMBC at 7 p.m. The No. 6 seeded Catamounts end their year with a 7-8-4 mark.

Abreu got the Seawolves on the board fairly early. After the first 10 minutes seemed even between the two teams, the Seawolves began attacking. In the 20th minute, Mehdi Belakehal tried crossing a ball into the box, but Vermont goalkeeper David Ramada sniffed it out and grabbed it before anyone else could. However, he misplayed the ball, and it came loose. Abreu took advantage and kicked it into the net uncontested for his sixth goal of the season, tying him with Leonardo Fernandes for the team lead.

Stony Brook and Vermont jockeyed back and forth the rest of the match with the Seawolves seeing most of the strong chances. The Seawolves converted late in the 82nd minute when Belakehal had a corner kick, and Gobeil Cruz headed it in to put the match away. It was also Gobeil Cruz's sixth goal of the year, tying him with Abreu and Fernandes at the top of the team's leaderboard.

Stony Brook keeper Stefan Manz made four saves in the victory to earn his league-leading eighth shutout of the season. Ramada finished with three saves.

Stony Brook and UMBC will meet for the second time in the last 11 days next Wednesday in Baltimore. It is also a rematch of last season's America East Championship final, which the Seawolves won 2-0 at home.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Leonardo Fernandes Headlines Four Men's Soccer All-Conference Honorees

Sophomore midfielder Leonardo Fernandes (North Babylon, N.Y.) has been named the America East Midfielder of the Year, headlining four Seawolves who earned All-Conference honors this season.

Fernandes and senior back Greg Tinari (Holbrook, N.Y.) were named to the All-America East first team. Fernandes is Stony Brook’s leading scorer with six goals and one assist for 13 points. He is tied for fourth in America East in goals. He has scored all six of his goals after the 60th minute of matches, giving him the reputation of being a strong second half player. Fernandes was the 2009 America East Rookie of the Year and was a second-team All-America East selection.

Fernandes is the second Stony Brook player to ever be named Midfielder of the Year, joining Michael Palacio in 2006.

Tinari has been a dynamic back with his speed and nose for the ball. He started all but one game this season and has one assist. He has been a part of a Seawolves defense that is tied for third in the conference in fewest goals allowed and third in shutouts.

Senior back Mladen Ramic (Belgrade, Serbia) and sophomore forward Raphael Abreu (New York, N.Y.) were named second-team All-America East. Ramic also was a strong defender for the Seawolves and also added a goal this season. Abreu is the team’s second-leading scorer with five goals, which is good for seventh in the conference.

“We’re very happy for Greg and Mladen for receiving recognition in their final year,” said seventh-year head coach Cesar Markovic. “They have meant a great deal to our program’s development. Leonardo and Raphael are both sophomores who have already accomplished so much. We look forward to even greater accomplishments in the future.”

Stony Brook finished the regular season with a 9-6-3 record, 3-2-2 in America East. The Seawolves are the No. 3 seed in this week’s America East Championship and will host No. 6 seed Vermont in the first round Saturday at LaValle Stadium at 5 p.m. Tickets for the event are on sale now at the Stony Brook Athletics ticket office and online at Adult tickets are $8, youth tickets are $5 and student tickets are $2. Stony Brook students may enter in for free with a school ID.

Men's Basketball Announces Largest Television Package in School History

Stony Brook Director of Athletics Jim Fiore has announced a nine-game regular season television package for the men’s basketball team, including three national broadcasts on the ESPN family of networks, the largest television package in school history.

"This is a tremendous recognition of how quickly Stony Brook Basketball has grown under Coach Pikiell’s leadership," Fiore said. "We value, respect and appreciate the opportunity to showcase our university and athletic program to a national audience. I am very confident our team will be prepared, and our student-athletes will compete at a high level while representing our Seawolves family with class."

"To say that we have the largest television package in school history is a great honor and a testament to how hard our players have worked to make this program worthy of national television broadcasts," head coach Steve Pikiell said. "We look forward to showing the millions of college basketball fans watching at home what Stony Brook Basketball is capable of achieving on the court."

The Seawolves will open the season on SNY when they face Connecticut on Nov. 12 at 7 p.m. The following week, the team will participate in the third annual ESPN College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon, taking on Monmouth at 6 a.m. Nov. 16 on ESPN, the school’s first-ever appearance on the flagship station that reaches 99.5 million households across the country.

Stony Brook will also have two appearances on ESPNU, which reaches 72.5 million households across the country. The Seawolves will play at Notre Dame Dec. 19 at 4:30 p.m. and host Maine on Feb. 12 at 11 a.m. in a game that will be played in Stony Brook Arena.

Stony Brook will also have five games broadcasted regionally in the Tri-State area through MSG-Plus. These include home games on Nov. 21 against Wagner, Dec. 11 against Sacred Heart and Jan. 17 against Albany and road contests at Binghamton Jan. 10 and Albany Jan. 14.

2010-11 Stony Brook Men’s Basketball Television Schedule

Date Opponent Time Network

Fri., Nov. 12 at Connecticut 7 p.m. SNY

Tue., Nov. 16 at Monmouth 6 a.m. ESPN

Sun., Nov. 21 WAGNER 2 p.m. MSG+

Sat., Dec. 11 SACRED HEART 2 p.m. MSG+

Sun., Dec. 19 at Notre Dame 4:30 p.m. ESPNU

Mon., Jan. 10 at Binghamton 7 p.m. MSG+

Mon., Jan. 17 ALBANY 5 p.m. MSG+

Sat., Feb. 12 MAINE 11 a.m. ESPNU

Mon., Feb. 14 at Albany 7 p.m. MSG+

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Four-Peat: Women's Cross Country Wins America East Championship

Boston, Mass. - Seniors Lucy van Dalen (Wanganui, New Zealand) and Holly van Dalen (Wanganui, New Zealand) finished one and two, and junior Hayley Green (Wellington, New Zealand) and sophomore Annie Keown (Auckland, New Zealand) also finished in the top 10, as the Stony Brook women's cross country team captured their fourth straight America East Championship at Franklin Park in Boston on Saturday.

"The girls were great today," head coach Andy Ronan said. "To handle the pressure of going for four in a row with such a strong performance makes them special."

Lucy finished the 5K run in 16:48.22 followed by Holly in 16:49.35. It was Lucy's third straight individual win in three events this season.

Green captured fourth with a time of 17:21.03. Keown came in at 17:23.53, good for fifth.

Freshman Olivia Burne (Palmerston North, New Zealand) finished in 12th (18:00.40) and junior Kristal Conklin (Middletown, N.Y.) and senior Carolina Cortes finished 21st and 23, respectively (18:26.64 and 18:27.87).

Despite a leg injury that hampered him much of the season, senior Tim Hodge (Tawa, New Zealand) led the men's team, finishing in ninth place.

"I am proud of the effort the guys gave today," Ronan said. "Tim Hodge was outstanding after missing most of the season. He showed great character today."
Junior Gerard Harley (Setauket, N.Y.) finished in 27th place (25:26.80). Freshman Daniel Denis (Bayport, N.Y.) (26:05.21) and junior Drew Dillingham (Riverhead, N.Y.) (26:18.43) rounded out the Seawolves in the top 50.

Both squads will be back in action on November 13 at the NCAA Regional Championships in Madison, Conn.