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Stony Brook Searching For New Identity in New Era Under Jeff Boals

Stony Brook's Tyrell Sturdivant (Credit: AP/ Nati Harnik)

Stony Brook’s Tyrell Sturdivant (Credit: AP/ Nati Harnik)

The 2016/17 season marked the start of a new era for the Stony Brook men’s basketball program under first-year coach Jeff Boals.

Boals replaced Steve Pikiel who moved on to resurrect the Rutgers men’s program after leading the Seawolves to a 26-win season and their first trip to the NCAA Div. 1 tournament.

Last year marked the end of an incredible run of success under Pikiel as he led the Seawolves to five consecutive 20-plus victory seasons.

It also marked the end of the James Warney  era who left the program as the all-time leader in points, rebounds, blocks and games played. Warney was a huge force in the paint and will likely go down as the best big-money player in America East history.

This year under Boals, who spent the last seven seasons as Thadd Motta’s assistant at Ohio State, Stony Brook will be searching to find a new identity and a suitable replacement for the departed Warney.

The Seawolves have yet to win this season, losing to Columbia at home and Boston College on the road.

Boals may have found his go-to player in junior Tyrell Sturdivant who had a career-best 26 point outing (9 for 15 from the field) in a recent 82-75 road loss to Boston College. Beyond Sturdivant, the Seawolves have Akwasi Yeboah and Lucas Woodhouse who gave Boals some quality minutes against BC. Also, Roland Nyama showed some potential coming off the bench in the loss.

In the first two games, Stony Brook has been ice cold from the outside, so shooting appears to be a priority for Boals before the America East season kicks off in January.

The Seawolves will conclude their first trip of the season in College Park when they face Mark Turgeon’s Maryland Terrapins on Nov. 22.

One other non-conference game to mark on your calendar is the Dec. 10 game with Pikiel and Rutgers.

As far as the team’s outlook in the America East, most have the Seawolves pegged for No. 4.

Vermont, who battled Stony Brook in the conference tournament final last year, has a veteran group returning and appears to be the front-runner for the league’s automatic NCAA bid.

But, don’t underestimate the Seawolves and the coaching of Boals. With some improved outside shooting and great team defense they will be right in the mix come March Madness.

Follow Bob on Twitter: @WhitneyBob

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Bob Whitney

Bob is a college basketball columnist here at DoubleGSports.com. He also covers Yale football and the Connecticut Sun of the WNBA.
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