The loss to Iowa in the second round of the NIT was a heartbreaking end to the best season in the history of Stony Brook University’s basketball program. As a longtime season ticket holder, I have been amazed to watch the basketball team climb from being the perennial underdog to three time league champion. Keep in mind that when Stony Brook moved to Division I, they were ranked last among more than 300 colleges which prompted some creative students to make posters that said ”nowhere to go but up!”
Sure, I was disappointed that the Seawolves lost a close game to Iowa, but not demoralized in any way, shape or form. The Iowa team played an incredible game on their home court in front of fifteen thousand supportive fans, but Stony Brook stayed strong and consistently came back from adversity until time ran out.
However, even more important to me as an alumnus of Stony Brook University and a Long Islander, is that the coaches, staff and especially the student athletes on the basketball team are outstanding ambassadors for the University. Win or lose they keep their composure, shake hands with their opponents and prepare for their next academic and athletic challenge.
Intercollegiate sports are an important part of the complete college experience. According to Arne Duncan, the United States Secretary of Education, “Student athletes learn lessons on courts and playing fields that are difficult to pick up in a chemistry lab. Resilience in the face of adversity, selflessness, teamwork, self-discipline, and finding your passion are values that sports can uniquely transmit. Many of those character-building traits are every bit as critical to succeeding in life as book smarts.”
Last year the Stony Brook baseball team “shocked the world” at the College World Series. However, if the Stony Brook basketball team plays in the NCAA Tournament next year, it won’t be a shock, but rather it will be expected. After all, as Coach Steve Pikiell said about his basketball team “You can see we’re going to be good in the future.” I can’t wait to renew my season tickets.
Tom Cassidy (1971) is a Clinical Associate Professor at the School of Social Welfare at Stony Brook University.