Teams have thrown everything they can at Jameel Warney and with good reason.
The reining America East Player of the Year has dominated the paint the last two-plus seasons for Stony Brook, but nowhere is he better than against multiple defenders.
The 6’8” junior, who has always been a very good passer since reaching the campus as a freshman, has proven he can dominate games by passing. Earlier in the week, at Washington, he dished out a career-high six assists – including one to junior Carson Puriefoy for the game-tying three-pointer.
Teams have doubled him on the dribble, off the catch, they have trapped him in corners, yet he finds a way to get the ball into the hands of the right player like a point guard would.
“I’ve been doing this the last two years – a lot of double teams – I’ve seen a lot, so I’m just trusting my teammates now,” Warney said. “We have a lot of shooters that can space out the floor.”
Stony Brook hasn’t been particularly great offensively all season, but they have found ways to win. Whether it is Kam Mitchell draining timely three’s like he did against Washington or his front court mate Rayshaun McGrew supporting the 6’8” junior down low, Warney has had plenty of help as the Seawolves built their second four-game win streak with a 71-61 win over New Hampshire.
Warney, after being doubled in the post near the left baseline, found an open Tyrell Sturdivant cutting across the lane for an open layup to go up 44-39. Later in the game the junior, trapped in the right short corner by a Wildcat double-team, dribbled and gave a toss to the left corner – where the ball found Mitchell for an open three. The 6’4” sophomore drained the shot and pushed the Seawolves lead to 61-54.
“You see Jameel’s ability to pass the ball and they played him two different ways today,” Pikiell said. “Everyone plays him differently. He’s seen everything, which is great and he’s poised.”
“We have different actions to counter all the different ways they play him, so we feel pretty good about him, and in the passing role too.”
During the preseason, Pikiell emphasized that he wanted Warney to become more selfish with the ball and he accomplished that at times. However, as the calendar turned to December, the 6’8″ junior struggled through the Seawolves four game losing streak – turning the ball over 10 times to just eight assists over their skid.
“I feel like during non-conference play, I turned the ball over a lot and that is uncharacteristic of me,” Warney said. “I just feel like I have to trust my teammates more to make open three’s, the bigs diving down and I’ve been doing great. I think I’ve been doing great passing the ball lately.”
Over the last four games, Warney has totaled 16 assists to just five turnovers. It is no coincidence that the Seawolves offense has surged due to this improvement, averaging better than a point per possession in three of their last four games.
“We’ve played with each other for half a season now, we kind of know each other’s tendencies now,” Warney said. “Our offense is in a click now and it is clicking at the right time.”
Throughout all that, the junior registered his 12th double-double of the season with ease; scoring a game-high 22 points, grabbing 10 rebounds and dishing out three assists.
Ryan Restivo wrote the America East conference preview for the 2014-15 Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook. He covers the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, the America East conference and Hofstra for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanarestivo or contact Ryan at rrestivo[at]nycbuckets.com.