10 homes dates in a 15-game schedule is kind of nuts. When you also factor in the fact that the America East will head to Stony Brook for its postseason tournament in May, the Seawolves' disdain for trying to do American History: 1865-1941 homework on an uncomfortable coach bus becomes clear. There's nothing inherently wrong with playing such a high volume of games on home turf -- the Seawolves played nine of its 16 games away from LaValle Stadium in 2013 -- but it does stand uniquely in the Division I landscape. This could serve as a major benefit for Stony Brook in 2014 as Jim Nagle is still in the process of assimilating the Seawolves to his culture, and the extra time spent on Long Island could create a comfortable approach to preparation that yields rewards.
Here are some schedule highlights and games of note:
February 23: @Duke; March 8: Maryland; March 15: @Fairfield; March 22: @St. John's
The Seawolves didn't put together an oppressive out-of-conference slate, but there is something interesting about where Stony Brook's big nonconference opponents fall on its schedule: These games are sandwiched between opponents that the Seawolves have a strong opportunity to beat. The trip to Durham comes after a home game against Lafayette and before an evening throwdown with Rutgers; Maryland proceeds the game with the Scarlet Knights and before the Seawolves contest with Sacred Heart; Fairfield comes a few days after the game with the Pioneers and immediately before a tilt with Manhattan; and the date with the Johnnies comes right after the assault on the Jaspers. There's balance there; there isn't a gauntlet of back-to-back games against arguably superior competition that can stifle momentum. Whether through design or fortuitous chance, the Seawolves are in a situation where it can offset potential losses with quick victories, keeping things afloat when other programs could suffer through losing streaks. This schedule sets up as a potential instant cure-all, which is a valuable asset.
March 28: @UMBC; April 5: Vermont; April 12: @Albany; April 19: @Binghamton; April 26: Hartford
Stony Brook needed a Binghamton loss to UMBC on the last day of the America East regular season to sneak into the league tournament in 2013. If the Bearcats had somehow found a way to topple the Retrievers in Baltimore -- UMBC's game-winning tally came with just 1:18 remaining in regulation -- the Bearcats would have advanced to the America East Tournament ahead of the Seawolves based on the head-to-head result between Stony Brook and Binghamton. That's a difficult situation to deal with, especially when the Seawolves' dictation of its future was, in 2013, built on trying to defeat the monstrosity that was Albany lacrosse. Luckily, Stony Brook's avenue to the conference's postseason is more manageable in 2014: The Seawolves will close with Binghamton and Hartford in the spring, opponents that Stony Brook can make direct table impact upon; Albany will appear in the Seawolves' rear view mirror right after the halfway point of the team's league slate, an important variable that will allow the Seawolves to retool; and the team is likely to earn at least one conference win -- against Vermont -- before the conference's standings start to really take shape. Like Stony Brook's nonconference schedule, there is balance in the Seawolves' America East slate; opportunities -- in all its forms -- appear in important and valuable places. This is totally navigable if Stony Brook plays with consistency.