IOWA CITY — It didn’t take long Wednesday night for Iowa’s thoughts to turn toward their next opponent.
Minutes after the third-seeded Hawkeyes (22-12) dispatched Indiana State 68-52 in an NIT first-round game, the team learned it would play seventh-seeded Stony Brook (25-7) on Friday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Stony Brook upset No. 2 seed UMass 71-58, meaning Iowa would stay home rather than fly to Amherst, Mass.
“I’m really excited about that, but you can’t overlook Stony Brook just because they have a seven seed,” said Iowa sophomore Aaron White, who scored 11 points and grabbed 13 rebounds against Indiana State. "(Tommy Brenton) was player of the year in their conference. They had the coach of the year in their conference. It’s going to be a tough match-up for sure. But we’ll see them on film and break them down and be ready for them on Friday.”
None of Iowa’s players consider Stony Brook a pushover and with good reason. The Seawolves won the America East regular-season title by three games and were upset on a last-second shot in the conference tournament semifinals. Stony Brook has won a national-best 13 road games and its win at UMass was the school’s first postseason victory.
Stony Brook senior forward Tommy Brenton was named both the America East’s top player and defender this year. He averaged 8.5 points and 8.6 rebounds per game. This year he led the Seawolves in rebounds, assists and steals and is the school record holder in all three categories. Brenton spearheaded one of the nation’s best defenses, which allowed opponents to shoot just 37.5 percent. Stony Brook is 20-0 when holding opponents to 60 or fewer points.
Freshman forward Jameel Warney averaged a team-best 12.2 points and was second in rebounds at 7.2 per game.
“(Warney is) a guy we are familiar with,” Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said. “We offered him and tried to get him to come out here. He’s a kid from back east and wanted to stay back east.
“(Stony Brook) has the player of the year in the league, plays for a tremendous coach, phenomenal coach and doing a great job building that program. So we have got our hands full with that one.”
It’s both McCaffery’s and Iowa’s first game against Stony Brook, but McCaffery praised Seawolves Coach Steve Pikiell’s program development. After a 4-24 first season, Pikiell has led Stony Brook to three America East regular-season titles in the last four years. The Seawolves’ 25 wins are the best in school history.But Stony Brook has lost its only three games with attendance exceeding 3,000. Those were at UConn, Maryland and Seton Hall, and Iowa had 15,400 fans at its first-round NIT game. Plus the Seawolves traveled Wednesday night and must fly across the country for a late Friday game.