UConn is Pikiell's Model

Former UConn player and assistant coach Steve Pikiell has built a winner at Stony Brook. It's no surprise his vision is modeled after the one he learned under Hall of Fame coach Jim Calhoun.

STORRS - With 11:39 remaining in the second half and the game tied 39-39, Stony Brook coach Steve Pikiell had a chance to beat his alma mater and make some history. Unfortunately for Pikiell and the Seawolves, No. 21 Connecticut unexpectedly went on a tear from three-point ranged and pulled away for a 73-62 victory.

Sunday's game against Stony Brook marked the 17th time UConn has played against a former assistant coach of Hall of Famer Jim Calhoun. UConn now has won all 17 meetings, including four straight wins against Pikiell. Stony Brook was looking for its first win against a nationally ranked opponent as well as Pikiell's 100th career victory.

Those milestones will have to wait.

The game between UConn and Stony Brook was originally scheduled for Nov. 13, but Stony Brook was invited to play in ESPN's 24-hour college basketball marathon that day and took the opportunity to play Rider in a 6 a.m. game. As a result, the game was rescheduled to Sunday even though it forced Stony Brook to play on consecutive days. The Seawolves had just over 24 hours to prepare for UConn after beating Canisius 82-75 on Saturday. Stony Brook traveled to UConn on Sunday but came out fresher than the Huskies, leading 31-26 after the first half.

Stony Brook looked tired near the end Sunday.

"Personally old age is setting in for me," senior forward Tommy Brenton said when asked about the fatigue factor. "The rest of the team, they did fine."

Brenton, perhaps the best player in the America East, scored 14 points and added three rebounds for the Seawolves, who all hustled to the final horn.

According to Pikiell, his team only had about 20 minutes of video preparation before the game.

"Normally we get four hours of film before we play a team," Pikiell said. "Another day would've helped us, but you got to give UConn credit."

Pikiell, who took over as head coach of Stony Brook in 2005, is in his eighth season with the Seawolves. Since 2008, Stony Brook has compiled the third best record in the America East conference. Pikiell has led them to two America East regular season championships as well as two NIT appearances. The next goal for the program is reaching the NCAA tournament and the Seawovles have been knocking on the door under Pikiell.

Of course, Pikiell has a lot of history with UConn. As a student, he played point-guard under Calhoun from 1987-91. He was two-year captain with the Huskies, including the 1990 team that won UConn's first ever Big East championship.

After graduation, Pikiell spent one year as an assistant coach under Calhoun. Before coming to Stony Brook, Pikiell maintained his ties to former Huskies, including a four year stint as an assistant coach to Howie Dickenman at Central Connecticut and another four years as an assistant coach to Karl Hobbs at George Washington. UConn assistant coach Glen Miller was on Calhoun's staff when Pikiell played, so the influences run deep.

Pikiell spent some time talking with Calhoun after his press conference Sunday.

"UConn was a great place to go to school," Pikiell said. "Great program to play for. I'm proud that I came from this program."

Pikiell's connection with the university goes beyond his playing and coaching days. Pikiell met his wife at UConn. His brother and sister have also attended UConn and his niece is graduating from the nursing program. Tim, his brother and another former UConn player, was in the crowd Sunday.

But after playing and coaching for Calhoun, the former Husky really hopes to emulate his mentor's success at Stony Brook.

"We're making Stony Brook the UConn of Long Island," Pikiell said. "We're going to be like UConn. It's going to take a few more L's and a few more bus trips, but we're going to be like this. That's what I envision with our program somewhere down the road."

UConnPlaybook.com publisher Ken Davis contributed to this story.

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