(Eds: Updates.)By JIM O’CONNELLAP Basketball Writer
Stony Brook senior Tommy Brenton has one season left to make the NCAA tournament so he’s making freshman Jameel Warney hurry up and help.
Brenton, a 6-foot-5 forward, is one of those players who fills every column in the stat sheet and is one of those players whom every coach wants on his team.
Warney, a 6-8 forward, has had a great start to his college career, something Brenton is hurrying along.
”I kind of gave Jameel the summer to be a freshman,” said Brenton, who became the school’s all-time leading rebounder last week. ”Once the preseason started, he was a sophomore. Hopefully by conference play he’ll be a junior and then at the championship he’ll be a senior. You’ve got to grow up quick here. I’m not letting him be a freshman and make those mistakes.”
Warney hasn’t made many. The native of Plainfield, N.J., has started all nine games for the Seawolves (7-2) this season, averaging 11.3 points and 7.9 rebounds while shooting 61.5 percent (40 of 65) from the field.
He sounds like he wants to take advantage of having four seniors and four juniors to learn from. They all were on the Stony Brook team that lost to Vermont – at home – in the America East championship game last March.
”It’s a learning experience every day,” Warney said. ”Learning from Tommy, Dave (Coley), the upperclassmen, how to play hard every possession. At the start of the season I was nervous, but these guys, they’re composed so it forces me to be composed about everything I do.”
Warney doesn’t play like a freshman, something coach Steve Pikiell expected when he recruited the 255-pounder.
”The day he signed the national letter of intent I was comfortable with him. He’s a real good player. He’s got great hands. He’s a terrific passer and he’s got a nice temperament about him for a freshman,” Pikiell said. ”And he’s a worker, so I’m real pleased with that because you never know that when you get a kid out of high school. He watches film, he tries to improve. . We threw him right to the wolves and that’s the way it is. I told him that when I recruited him. He’s done a great job.”
Warney started right away and had eight points and five rebounds in the opening win over Marist. In Game 2, against Mount Ida, Warney made all eight of his field goal attempts – a school record – and pulled down nine rebounds.
”After the first game, I said that I’m going to be a contributor to this team,” Warney said. ”Even though I’m a freshman, I can help in big ways.”
His first double-double was a 19-point, 11-rebound effort against Cornell. He’s starting to steal the seniors’ spotlight and they are fine with that.
”He’s growing. He’s getting better and better as each game goes on,” Coley said. ”It’s good to have someone like him down low.”
Pikiell was Jim Calhoun’s first captain at Connecticut. The Seawolves played the Huskies pretty tough last month, leading 33-26 in the second half before falling to a UConn 3-point barrage, 73-62. There was no talk of moral victories after the game. Maybe it’s Warney who has helped sharpen the Seawolves’ attitude.
”When he touches it, he can score. I feel great about it because people are going to double-team him and he’s the best passer on our team,” Pikiell said. ”He’s a tough matchup for people and his game is evolving.”