#35 of 351
Welcome to the start of season 3 for Operation 351. My goals this year are to complete the New England states and the New York City teams. I will also be taking trips to Chicago, Mississippi, Maryland and D.C.
I toyed with the idea of taking the ferry from Bridgeport. But the $52 fare plus the possibility of missing the last boat dissuaded me. So I drove the 2 1/2 hours from Connecticut instead. I had my usual pre game supper and beer at the The Bench & Bar & Grill in Stony Brook. The bar was populated with a few fans excited for the new season. They will be disappointed tonight.
Stony Brook is coming off a big season winning the America East championship last year. Tonight they unfurled the championship banner in a pre-game ceremony. Unfortunately, their excellent coach from last year Steve Pikiell took the head coaching job at Rutgers as as result of his success. Jell Boals the long time assistant at Ohio State has taken the position of head coach at Stony Brook.
Columbia also has a first year coach in Jim Engles. He returns to Columbia after spending the past eight years as head coach for the New Jersey Institute of Technology.
I was very impressed with the Island Federal Credit Union arena as the home of the Seawolves. The school’s recent successes fuel a strong spirit in this sleepy little Long Island town. It is reflected in this new arena and student support during the games especially the loud and raucous pep band. Although I have to mention that there were many empty seats on this opening night which surprised me.
Columbia surprisingly dominated most of the game until Stony Brook battled back in the second half to make the game close. The big basket at the end to give Columbia a safe margin was a double pump three point shot by Columbia guard Mike Smith leaving the crowd speechless.
I have to give shout outs to two Columbia players.
Mike Smith is a 5’10” freshman from Illinois that was quicker than anyone else on the court last night. Despite his small size, he penetrated with ease and hit some mid jumpers. He had 14 points for the night. Not the typical Ivy league player, he appears ready to make a name for himself in the years to come.
Luke Petrasek is a 6’10” junior who is as comfortable shooting a 3 pointer as he is posting inside. He scored 20 points despite playing only 22 minutes. I expect that Columbia will make some noise this year in the Ivy League.
I believe that Stony Brook will have problems this year duplicating the success of last year. While that have some good fundamental players, their lack of size and quickness will come into play during the season. Perhaps they will need time adjusting to Beal’s coaching philosophy.
I am thankful that the college basketball season has started after the horrendous UCONN football season. Till next time….