Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Stony Brook is making big statements - ESPN Men's Basketball Blog - By Diamond Leung

Stony Brook made an eye-catching announcement last week. The Seawolves are going to play in Europe in August, and they aren't messing around and going to be budget travelers. The tour will consist of not one, but three countries with games in Dublin, London and Paris on the itinerary.
"With thousands of years of history and culture to visit, this will be an educational trip for our student-athletes," coach Steve Pikiell said in a statement. "We also look forward to the practice time and the exhibition games that the trip allows us to use, which will give our athletes the chance to play together, especially the newcomers, in preparation for our regular season."

The trip is just one in a number of signs that Stony Brook is looking to become a major player in college basketball, according to the New York Post, which talks to athletic director Jim Fiore about thinking big -- UConn big.
The Seawolves, under Steve Pikiell, will play Rutgers in the Garden this season at the MSG Holiday Festival. All of the athletes can study in a new 5,000-square foot academic center.

Fiore is sitting on $25 million of frozen state funds that have been allocated to expand and renovate the basketball arena. He bemoans the fact that until funds are released, "It's holding Stony Brook back from being recognized as one of the nation's best research universities."

"We're going to embark on a 4,000-seat, state-of-the-art arena that will be commensurate with most research universities on the East Coast," Fiore said. "It will be nicer than Gampel [Pavilion at UConn], not that that's saying much. Gampel is bigger, but ours will be beautiful."

This is an America East team that is searching for its first NCAA tournament bid and came close last season after advancing to the conference tournament championship game for the first time. The Seawolves are hoping for another shot now that they have junior Tommy Brenton back after he suffered a season-ending knee injury in September that left the team without the league's rebounding champion from the previous season.

Stony Brook gave Pikiell a contract extension after the season that left them one win away from dancing, and now he has nearly his entire team returning. The Seawolves will get an early start while in Europe and are also creating expectations for themselves in the preseason thanks to Fiore.

As he told the New York Post, "our basketball team is pretty damn good."