After his third straight successful season at Stony Brook, Steve Pikiell goes into America East Tournament with well-deserved Coach of the Year honors. (Photo courtesy of Newsday)
Once you spend a few minutes with him, either at a press conference or just talking before or after a game, you can see just why it is that Steve Pikiell is one of the all-around class acts in Division I college basketball.
An overly respectful man who makes the media that covers his team feel appreciated by looking at them when they ask questions that he gives honest and insightful answers to, followed by an individual handshake for each, the Stony Brook head coach has a positive reputation in the press room that matches his tenacity and spirit on the court, a winning attitude that his Seawolves team reflects every night they take the court.
Yesterday, Pikiell's infectious demeanor was recognized by the America East Conference, who named him its Coach of the Year; and rightfully so, for the third time in the last four seasons after guiding Stony Brook to a 23-6 regular season that was highlighted by a 14-2 America East record on the way to the most successful campaign in program history since the Seawolves transitioned to the Division I level in 1999.
"I have a great staff and good players," Pikiell said shortly after the America East bestowed its top coaching honor upon him. "The fact of the matter is it's the most unselfish team I've been around in a long time."
Led by America East Player of the Year and epitome of versatility Tommy Brenton, who also nabbed Defensive Player of the Year honors; as well as conference Rookie of the Year honoree Jameel Warney, Pikiell's Stony Brook team made every one of their 29 games interesting and competitive. Of the Seawolves' six defeats, their 73-62 setback on November 25th to Pikiell's alma mater Connecticut was the only loss of ten or more points for the rising dynasty in Suffolk County.
"When you have the combination of those two things, an unselfish group of guys and a great staff that works hard and does a great job preparing, it helps you have a good season like this," Pikiell proudly stated. "I'm excited for the future of our program."
The coach is not the only one, as fans of the Seawolves are just as ecstatic as the man in charge of the team, one whose charismatic personality makes him not just the Coach of the Year in the America East, but the coach of a lifetime in general.
Stony Brook continues their season tonight in Albany, where the Seawolves face Binghamton in the America East Tournament quarterfinals in a 6pm tipoff.