Seton Hall returns four of their five starters from last season’s team which won the Big East tournament, over eventual national champion Villanova, and advance to their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2006.
The one missing starter for the Pirates, however, is now a rookie in the NBA. How Seton Hall goes about their business without Isaiah Whitehead will be a storyline worth monitoring.
It all came together for Seton Hall head coach Kevin Willard last season, his team matured while leaving their struggles from two years ago behind. The Pirates, led by Whitehead, finished with a 25-9 record. It was their highest win total 23 years.
Can they do it again this year? Better yet, can they top what last year’s exciting campaign?
The answer to those questions depends on two key factors for the Pirates as they open their season against Fairleigh Dickinson Friday night at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.
With Whitehead now wearing a Brooklyn Nets uniform, how Seton Hall fills his spot is crucial. For the last two seasons, the Pirates have endured the ups and downs which come with going from boys to young men. Chemistry is a key component to any winning team, it’s no different for Seton Hall.
Willard and his staff recruited four new faces to potentially step in and produce right away. Freshmen shooting guards Eron Gordon and Myles Powell could very well represent the future for Seton Hall while transfers Jevon Thomas and Madison Jones bring experience.
How those four players blend in with Seton Hall’s style of play could be all the difference for them in the Big East conference.
The continued growth of the returning starters is the other key factor. As freshmen, Angel Delgado, Khadeen Carrington, and Desi Rodriguez, saw what chemistry issues can do to a team’s growth. These three players, along with Ismael Sanogo, took major steps forward last season collectively and as individuals.
Now that they’ve tasted what success feels like, they’ll need to adapt to no longer being the underdog in the Big East. Which one of the returning starters emerges this season? Or will it be all of them taking the next step in their maturation together?
Seton Hall’s success from a year ago will most certainly have them on every opponent’s radar, this is a team which knocked off Villanova last year.
Losing Whitehead will hurt, however Seton Hall has enough firepower to make a run at another NCAA tournament bid.