SBU women, defending America East champs, preferred to repeat

India Pagan called it “living the dream” and it sounds like she is right on her nose with it.

Stony Brooks’ 6-1 striker made the Puerto Rican national team and helped it earn a spot in the field at the Olympics in Japan last summer. There she met NBA stars like the Gasol brothers and Jason Tatum as well as famous figures from other sports like tennis’ Novak Djokovic.

“I still can’t believe I was there,” Pagan said. “There were NBA players and WNBA players and top athletes from all over the world – and me. I was about to break through walking through the (Olympic) village because it was so incredible.”

Pagan returned to join the Seawolves and has helped make them the team to beat in America East. Stony Brook, the defending conference champion and after a 15-5 season and his first trip to the NCAA Tournament, was named the favorite in a preseason survey of conference coaches. Pagan was also a member of the 2019-20 championship in the regular season, which went 28-3 before the conference tournament was canceled by the coronavirus pandemic.

The SBU opens its season on Tuesday against Delaware State at the Island Federal Credit Union Arena.

Pagan did not intend to play another season at Stony Brook, even after the NCAA gave student-athletes an extra year of eligibility due to the pandemic. Head coach Caroline McCombs traveled to take a position at George Washington, and James Madison’s associate head coach Ashley Langford was brought in to take over a talented program.

“I had to recruit her again because she did not come back and it started after I came in and before she left to play (with the national team),” said Langford, who has also been on the coaching staff at Auburn, Old Dominion, Navy, Bucknell and Denver. “I’m glad we built that relationship because she adds so much.”

Langford said of Pagan “her hands are among the best I’ve seen in Division I and she’s so talented I do not think another player can stop her one-on-one.” She averaged 9.0 points and 5.0 assists last season and is a pick at all pre-season conferences.

Pagan said she came back “with a new kind of confidence after seeing that I can play with competition at the high level.” Puerto Rico won enough to earn their place in the Olympic field – including the silver medal at the FIBA ​​AmeriCup tournament – but went without a win in Japan.

There is still a lot of competition to be in the starting lineup, but Pagan expects to be in it with 5-8 guard Anastasia Warren and 5-10 Earlette Scott, two of the top four scorers last season. Guard Erin Turral, a 5-6 junior college transfer, could be a player to watch.

“Because we were selected first, we want a goal on our backs, but I think we are ready for the challenge,” Pagan said.

That Stony Brook did not need to be built from scratch was attractive to Langford.

“We have a lot of team depth and versatility,” she said. “We can score in many ways. They already know how to win. They are selfless … There is a lot to like about this team.”


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