NY Sports Day
Jon Wagner

Wagner: Is Stony Brook a Good Indicator of How Hofstra Will Fare In the CAA This Season?

Photo: Hofstra

Some games don’t necessarily equate to others in sports, but if you go by the way the Stony Brook Seawolves (3-7) have done against a trio of Colonial Athletic Association opponents this season, it might shed some light on what their Long Island rival, the Hofstra Pride (7-5), may or may not be able to achieve.

In the annually unpredictable CAA, the spots teams are picked to finish in the preseason can be accurate or inaccurate. For example, Hofstra (picked first last year) and North Carolina-Wilmington (picked sixth last year) finished in a first-place tie before meeting in the league tournament final a season ago (with UNCW winning in overtime).

This year, the teams flipped, with UNCW picked first and Hofstra sixth. Will they tie for first again? Possibly, but who really knows?

Well, the Seawolves might. They have not only played the Pride, but the teams that were picked right behind UNCW (Towson, picked second) and Hofstra (Northeastern, picked seventh) with very different results.

Stony Brook was routed (88-63) at Towson on Nov. 25 before edging Northeastern (77-75) at home on Dec. 3.

On Tuesday night at Hofstra, the America East Conference’s Seawolves were routed even worse than they were at Towson, with the Pride playing its most complete game of the season — and Stony Brook playing its worst of the year — to take the latest Battle of Long Island, 96-58.

So does that mean Hofstra might be more like a top CAA team than a middle-of-the-pack or lower end team in the CAA this year?

“I don’t know yet because I haven’t watched a CAA game yet,” Pride head coach Joe Mihalich said. “If you’d have asked me this question after the Manhattan game (a disappointing 12-point road loss on Nov. 18 against a seemingly inferior team), I’d have said ‘We’re the [worst] team in the league.’

“I don’t want to put a number on it because it’ll give somebody some locker room material. Here’s our goal — in the first week of March, we want to have a chance to win our [conference] tournament, and if we keep getting better the way we have over the last month, we’ll have our chance.”

Stony Brook head coach Jeff Boals didn’t mention the Northeastern game when asked the same question, but he commented on Hofstra relative to both Towson and Lehigh — the team the Seawolves beat, 62-57, at home, one game after they defeated Northeastern.

In relation to Hofstra’s dangerous core of guards surrounding 6-foot-9, 260-pound Lithuanian center Rokas Gustys — the nation’s leading rebounder, who is close to averaging a double-double for the season, like he did as as a sophomore last year — Boals said, “We played Lehigh [which] was very similar offensively [to Hofstra] — a really big guy with four perimeter guys around him. Gustys inside, was like a man amongst boys [against us]. 

“The difference, I think, with Hofstra’s guards is they can break you down or shoot the 3. A lot of times it’s just one or the other [but not both].

“Towson, physically they look like a football team that’s a really good basketball team.”

Based on all of that, Hofstra would seem to be a solid threat to Towson, UNCW and perhaps anyone else that may be fighting for a CAA crown this season, and significantly better than where the Pride was picked, just above Northeastern. But time will tell over the first 10 weeks of 2017.

For now, playing the way the Pride wants to play again and once again becoming the Kings of Long Island are enough.

 


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