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America East Championship Game preview: Tournament Title the only thing left for Stony Brook's Steve Pikiell

The Jim Calhoun disciple has found success over the last seven seasons, with the exception of the one game that means the most.

James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Death, taxes, and Stony Brook in the America East Men's Basketball Championship game.

Well, the last part might not be as assured as the first two, though Stony Brook has grown accustomed to a certain level of success since the 2009-2010 season, a 7-year stretch highlighted by four regular season conference championships and five appearances in the conference championship game, both totals the Seawolves added to this season, led by a trio of seniors: All-Defensive Team member Rayshaun McGrew, 2-Time All-Conference First Team member/All-Defensive Team member Carson Puriefoy, and 3-time Player of the Year/2-Time Defensive Player of the Year Jameel Warney.

The man at the helm of these great teams has been Steve Pikiell, who took over prior to the 2005-2006 season, and suffered through four subpar-to-poor seasons before the beginning of the seven year run in 2009-2010, winning the America East Coach of the Year Award in conjunction with each of Stony Brook's four regular season conference championships (2010, 2012, 2013, 2016).

Following the 2014 season, what was at the time his fourth 20-win season in five years, Pikiell was rewarded with a contract extension through the 2018-19 season.

Despite all of Pikiell's success, he has yet to break through into the NCAA Tournament, as Stony Brook has fallen in their four previous trips to the title game (2011, 2012, 2014, 2015), each in heartbreaking fashion: blown 2nd half leads, poor shooting, buzzer beaters, missed free throws, among others.

The good news for Stony Brook and Pikiell this year is that Albany, who knocked the Seawolves out of the last three America East Tournaments, was upset by Hartford in the quarterfinals of this year's America East Tournament.

The bad news is that the only America East team to beat Stony Brook at home this season is the one team standing in their way: the Vermont Catamounts, who beat Pikiell and Co. 76-62, on Feb. 27.

Steve Pikiell has achieved everything there is to achieve in the America East, with the exception of capturing a conference tournament championship. Saturday will provide him his latest, and perhaps greatest, opportunity to get that monkey off his back.