The Sea Wolves Stony Brook are in Europe for the next 10 days, where they can not only admire Barcelona, ââValencia and Paris, but also take on top-level competitions as they prepare for the coming season. The college sends regular dispatches to Mid-Major Madness on their progress, starting today with a short question-and-answer session from head coach Geno Ford.
STONY BROOK: So this will be your third trip with a team. Before I got into the next one, what were they like?
GENO FORD: Yes, with Kent we went to Italy for 10 days. When I was in Bradley we went to the Bahamas and did Atlantis for five days. I think in Bradley we probably played too many games. We played four games in five days, the day of arrival being the only day without one. Just with the beach during the day and then a gameâ¦ it’s just not a good combination. The trip to Italy went well. We went to play four games in 10 days against good teams. We went 3-1, winning one of them at the buzzer with a tip dunk. Spain have the best basketball in Europe and it will be a good challenge for a young team. It’s exciting for our team and I’m interested to see how they react to the game, but I’m also excited to see the connection and to spend time with each other. It’s about the games, but also the cultural learning experiences that you can’t replicate without making the trip.
SB: I’m sure you’ve heard that, but the last time this program went on a trip they went in March and won the league (2015-16). How important are those trips to creating the chemistry you want to see in these late season games?
GF: This is obviously the goal when you enter the season, but the best part about these trips is that it gives you a good head start. It really came at a good time for us because we are making some changes to our offense. In the last couple of years we’ve been first or second on defense and first or third on the rebound, but the offensive numbers haven’t been where they should be. It’s a much better passing team than the one we had [in awhile]. It’s also one of the most selfless teams we’ve had. These things should appear, hopefully in January. These practices allowed us to set up our offensive system and get representatives from the guys. Are we going to look like the ’92 Bulls in August? Of course not. We’re just trying to squeeze in some things and get these guys to move on. It gave us a good head start and the guys have a good idea. We have skills and much better passes that always help your offense. Hopefully we can build on the training we have had and that it shows up on game night.
SB: Some of these games are taken with small grains of salt for the reasons just mentioned. What are you looking for the most in these 10 days and in the three games you play?
GF: Improved toughness, both mental and physical. I don’t want us to be so tied to our incoming shots or not and I want us to be more disciplined offensively. We have to be able to read situations and get the ball back to our guys on time and in rhythm to improve each other. I don’t think we did a good job. Granted, we weren’t as good offensively in January as we were in November and December. I think the key figures blend in a bit better and I’m really looking forward to seeing if we can carry that over to a game. It’s great to see in training and noticeable in training, but we have to see it in some competitions against away teams, even if they are exhibition games. To be very clear, our goal is to win every game we play. We’re going to start three different starting lineups, everyone will play important minutes and we’re going to bring the guys in and see how they react under the lights of the game. We’re going to play to win, but we’re also going to take this opportunity to throw a look at all of our new guys. Makale [Foreman] was there but he didn’t play, obviously the two freshmen, Mo [Gueye] is newâ¦ there’s this influx of guys who have shown that they are potentially going to be in the rotation, some of them getting big minutes and starting. Every time you add new start minutes it changes the appearance of any team.
SB: What about the non-basketball side? What are you looking forward to outside of court?
GF: Well over half of our guys have never been abroad so it’s going to be a great experience for them to see what it is. I also think most of them aspire to play abroad when they’re done. We’ve been able to have a good set of rankings from guys in Europe who have done well which will help us keep putting guys there. This will give them an idea of ââwhat it will be like if they can get a professional contract and live abroad. Plus, I think watching guys bond and get closer is always fun. We don’t exactly have a plethora of guys on the list who are fluent in Spanish, so they’re going to have to stay in groups and talk a lot. They won’t be able to be on their phones which is good because then they will be able to engage with each other so I can’t wait. I think there are going to be a lot of positives on the floor.
SB: It will be your third trip now. What did you see those trips do to a team’s chemistry and corroboration early in the season?
GF: Well that can really help team chemistry a lot. In Kent, we were picked as seventh and won the league that year. I think chemistry is the key. We will have a much better grasp of our team’s chemistry on August 20 on this plane return than on the plane ride there. It forces the guys to spend time together and interact. Our chemistry has been very good. The bottom line is that the chemistry is great on the pitch, but it’s really important on the pitch for us to be successful. All of our new guys came in and did a great job passing the ball. They are definitely some of the best passer we have and that obviously helps when it comes to giving the guys some pace. You don’t really know what your chemistry is until you’re six and you’re on the road with 7,000 people shouting the other way, so it will be a great learning experience for our staff and our staff. players to get a little taste of an Evening Road game.