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Stony Brook’s D.J. Munir

March 7, 2003 Columns No Comments



America East Profile: Stony Brook’s D.J. Munir

by Phil Kasiecki

D.J. Munir learned his lesson. Class dismissed.

Well, not exactly.

After an excellent sophomore season that saw him lead the America East Conference in assists and finish second in scoring, Munir’s star was on the rise. Unfortunately, his Stony Brook quad didn’t have the same level of success, finishing 6-22, and he didn’t take it too well.

“I never really had a losing season, I felt like I let the team down, not in the way I performed but in the fact that we couldn’t win more games,” he told a writer earlier in the season. “I took that kind of hard and it spilled into class. There were times when I didn’t go to class.”

And the end result was not good: he was academically ineligible for the first semester of this season. So it was time to hit the books, and he did just that. He not only became serious about the classroom, but he wants to make sure others don’t fall down the same path; freshman backcourt mate Bobby Santiago said that Munir has already talked to him about it.

Munir made a grand re-entrance, scoring 23 points in his season debut to lead the Seawolves to their first victory over Hofstra since 1985. But after that, things were not as smooth at first. He had some struggles shooting the ball, while Santiago continued his fine freshman season and continued to start at the point. Reportedly, Munir was close to quitting because he thought he had a diminished role with the team.

Then something happened: he skipped two practices and was suspended for the next game. He was relegated to watching the game on TV, and that helped set off the light bulb. He felt terribly about it, and got back on the court after he, along with his parents and godfather, met with head coach Nick Macarchuk.

He got it together shortly after that, and the Seawolves hit their stride at that point. They would eventually win six straight games, during which Munir led the way. Later, he topped 1,000 career points with a 35-point effort in a big win over regular season champ Boston University. He scored 30 or more points in back-to-back late season games, and finished the season with a similar scoring average to last season. He would have finished third in scoring if he had played in enough games to qualify; in conference games only, that is where he finished.

The native of Warwick, Rhode Island came on strong late last season en route to earning second team All-America East honors. He had a career game in mid-February, setting league highs for the season with 14 assists and 8 steals in an 85-70 win over Northeastern. In that game, he nearly had a quadruple-double, as he also had 13 points and 7 rebounds, and his assist total was one shy of the school record. It wasn’t a perfect season, as he was also second in the conference in turnovers, but that was something he would surely improve on with more experience.

Munir played his high school ball at Bishop Hendricken High School, then played a year of prep school at Bridgton Academy in Maine. As a high school senior, he led Hendricken in scoring, rebounding and assists en route to earning first team All-State honors in Rhode Island.

He entered college as a shooting guard, but has now earned his keep as a point guard. His height (6’3″) certainly does not hurt.

The Seawolves have a good inside-outside combination at the offensive end. In the backcourt, Munir is supported by Santiago, sophomore Mike Orfini, and senior Larry Jennings. Santiago is one of the better freshmen in the conference. Freshman Hendrick Feist has shown promise on the wing, while junior Jairus McCollum has played better as the season has moved along. In the frontcourt, junior Mike Konopka can face the basket, and is joined by promising sophomore JonPaul Kobryn and Fordham transfer Cori Spencer, a sophomore who has had a few big games this season.

The Seawolves could surprise some people in the America East Tournament if they get some good games out of their frontcourt. Munir will certainly give the fans their money’s worth, while standing as an example of a player who made it through adversity and learned some valuable life lessons. Let’s hope his teammates heed his word and that others out there who struggle with going to class learn from him as well.

Back to the America East Profile index.

     

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