Stony Brook guard Carson Puriefoy got biblical during his Monday media session in Long Island.
“We’re playing Goliath,” he said, “and we’re David.”
The Kentucky basketball program is making its 56th NCAA tournament appearance this week. Stony Brook is making its first.
That didn’t keep Puriefoy’s confidence level down; he knows how the story of David and Goliath ended.
“I think we can pull it off,” Puriefoy said.
Fellow senior Rayshaun McGrew was not ready to estimate the No. 13-seeded Seawolves’ chances against the No. 4 seeded Wildcats, but he said they will be “playing with house money.” Virtually no one outside of Long Island thinks Kentucky will fall in Des Moines Thursday night (9:40 p.m. ET, CBS).
McGrew, Puriefoy and Jameel Warney make up a trio of seniors who are simply relieved to finally have an America East championship under their belt. Anything else is gravy.
“We’ve really got nothing to lose,” McGrew said. “Just leave it all on the floor.”
Facing a squad that could send off a half-dozen NBA draft picks this summer, McGrew said Stony Brook’s experience might be worth something Thursday, given Kentucky’s relatively green lineup.
“When you’re young in close games like that, it kinda gets to you,” he said. “You kinda get nervous at some point. But as you get older, you realize how to finish hard games, so I think that’s where we’ve got our advantage at.”
Coach Steve Pikiell agreed.
“They’ve been through the wars,” he said of his team. “They’re well tested … You hope that some of that leadership and (the fact) that they’ve been around awhile will really factor into the game.”
The Seawolves took Vanderbilt to overtime in Nashville this winter, and played big-name schools Georgia and Cincinnati last season.
Kentucky is on a different level of prestige, but Stony Brook has at least gotten a taste of the big-game environment.
“They’re a basketball team just like us,” McGrew said. “They’re just more televised and nationally known, so we’re gonna go in there and treat it like it’s any other game.
“We’re not worried about the name on the jersey.”