St. John’s basketball: Stony Brook braces for impact in season opener

St. John's basketball guard Nahiem Alleyne (Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports)
St. John's basketball guard Nahiem Alleyne (Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports) /

The St. John’s basketball season begins against Stony Brook on Tuesday night. 

The St. John’s basketball program will tipoff its season against Stony Brook, a team that has encountered its fair share of injury setbacks and player departures, on Tuesday evening in Queens.

The Johnnies had a few preseason injuries of its own, but Rick Pitino’s group looks to be back at full strength as the Red Storm prepares to face its first challenge.

After a challenging 2022-23 season plagued by injuries, Stony Brook is gearing up for a comeback with All-CAA Preseason Second Team selection Tyler Stephenson-Moore leading the way. Returning players like Aaron Clarke, Dean Noll, and Sabry Phillips are determined to turn the fortunes around of the Seawolves.

Stony Brook head coach Geno Ford expressed the team’s dissatisfaction with last year’s 11-22 record, telling The Statesman, Stony Brook’s student newspaper, “It wasn’t acceptable to anybody. It certainly wasn’t acceptable to me, the fans, or the administration.”

With a renewed sense of determination, the Seawolves are focused on making a significant impact in the upcoming season.

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In its second season in the Coastal Athletic Association (CAA), Stony Brook has a chance to make some noise. Toby Onyekonwu, who was forced into the starting lineup last season due to injuries, is expected to show significant improvement, particularly on the offensive end. His experience in the league will be valuable for the Seawolves.

Stony Brook is in a better position this season with key players like Stephenson-Moore and 7-foot-1 center Keenan Fitzmorris, while having several players with significant playing time from the previous season.

Furthermore, the team was missing three opening-night starters for most of the year, making their chance at improvement even more promising.

In terms of roster changes, Stony Brook bid farewell to Frankie Policelli, the team’s second-leading scorer a year ago at 13.7 points per gam), but welcome newcomers Andre Snoddy, who averaged 9.5 points per contest at Central Connecticut, and Chris Maidoh from Fairfield, who was selected to the Preseason All-CAA Second Team.

Ford, now in his fifth season with Stony Brook, is determined to improve the team’s performance and make a significant impact in a competitive mid-major conference. However, the team needs to work on its outside shooting to become a stronger contender.

St. John’s basketball will have massive challenge in the paint

The Seawolves boast an impressive frontcourt with a wealth of size. They have no shortage of height, with four players standing at 6-foot-10 or taller, and the biggest among their towering lineup is 7-foot-3 sophomore Rocco Muratori.

This formidable presence in the paint provides Stony Brook with a significant advantage, both defensively and on the boards.

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In the upcoming clash against St. John’s, Stony Brook finds itself in a formidable test with the Red Storm looking to respond to a poor showing in their final exhibition.

However, this matchup presents an ideal opportunity for St. John’s to evaluate their own progress.

While St. John’s is anticipated to hold the upper hand, the Seawolves are eager to display the improvements they’ve made and the unwavering determination that fuels their season’s aspirations.

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