For many, it’s a time of happiness and excitement. Upsets and Cinderella stories. Championships and legacies.
But for others, March brings more sadness than madness.
Stony Brook falls into the latter group. The Seawolves consistently end up on the verge of making the NCAA Tournament — the team has been either America East regular-season champions or runner-ups for five of the past six seasons — only to come up just short.
But this season? This season feels different. It is different.
That’s because the Seawolves return all five starters from last year’s team — a team that lost to Albany on a last-second shot in the league championship game.
Stony Brook also adds two newcomers — including one who is a familiar face — who will make immediate impacts and provide quality depth. Simply put, this is the best roster the Seawolves have ever had.
And expectations are at an all-time high.
Stony Brook is led by the duo of two-time reigning conference player of the year Jameel Warney and all-conference guard Carson Puriefoy. Together, they form one of the best inside-out tandems in college basketball.
Warney is an elite talent and one of the best post players in the country. The senior forward averaged a double-double last season (16.4 ppg and 11.7 rpg), and led the country in double-doubles with 24. He was also a force on the defensive end, blocking 87 shots.
Meanwhile, Puriefoy serves as the perfect perimeter complement to Warney. The senior guard can score (14.4 ppg in 2014-15), facilitate (3.4 apg), and, like Warney, impacts the game with his defense (he led the team in steals last season). If Warney is Batman, Puriefoy is Robin.
Undoubtedly, Stony Brook’s success this season hinges on Warney and Puriefoy, but the reason the Seawolves are in the position for a breakout season in the first place has a lot to do with their strong supporting cast.
In addition to Warney and Puriefoy, Stony Brook also returns last season’s other starters — Rayshaun McGrew, Roland Nyama and DeShaun Thrower. McGrew is a big-time rebounder, while Nyama and Thrower will bring experience to the perimeter.
Woodhouse joins Stony Brook after transferring from Longwood, where he was a standout guard for the Lancers. In two seasons, he tallied 393 assists, and ranked fifth in the country in assists as a sophomore.
Woodhouse will have plenty of passing options at Stony Brook, so don’t be surprised if the Seawolves put the ball is in his hands as much as possible. His addition will allow the Seawolves to utilize Puriefoy in off-ball screens, which will result in more open looks for Puriefoy.
Walker joins the Seawolves for the second time after spending last season in the junior college ranks. The former all-rookie selection started at Stony Brook during the 2013-14 season and averaged 7.0 ppg. This time around, Walker is already familiar with the system, and should be able to pick up where he left off two seasons ago.
With talent, depth and experience, it’s clear to see why this season is expected to be Stony Brook’s best in program history. The only question that remains is whether or not the Seawolves can finally get over the hump and make it to their first Big Dance.
This could be the season. As a matter of fact, it should be the season.
Now, its up to the Seawolves to make it happen. Let the journey begin.