February 8th, 2020, this was the date that I had marked on my calendar for this Seton Hall squad. Despite having a challenging out of conference schedule, on the road at Villanova was to me, going to be their biggest test. It had been 26 years (1994) since the Pirates last won on the road against the Wildcats. Yes, you read that right, the last time the Pirates beat Nova at Nova was before I was born, and when Kevin Willard had a full head of hair.
Photo: New York Post
The Hall started strong from the tip Saturday leading Jay Wright’s squad, who was coming off back-to-back losses for the first time this season, by double digits. However, the home team righted themselves, and eventually took the lead before halftime.
I was skeptical about Villanova being able to pull away in the second half, and I was right. The Pirates showed why they are the top team in the Big East, and why in my opinion, Kevin Willard is such a phenomenal coach. They didn’t fold to the mighty Wildcats, their crowd, and their ownership of the conference all these years. Strong performances from Myles Powell, Sandro Mamukaleshvili and Jared Rhoden picked up the slack offensively, and Romaro Gill was his usual amazing defensive presence, blocking shots and protecting the rim (along with Sandro).
I don’t usually make big predictions, but I truly believe that this is the year Seton Hall wins the Big East title, and makes a deep run in the NCAA tournament. They have the size, depth, and most importantly, a star player to ride in Myles Powell. Don’t believe me, here are a few bullet points that have me thinking this way:
- Winning at #5 Butler and #10 Villanova
- Beating #7 Maryland at home without Powell and Sandro
- Leading the Big East conference right now by 3 games
- Being top 3 in the country in Quad 1 & 2 wins
I could not be prouder of this team. In my final year as a Seton Hall student, I can honestly say, this has been the most fun I have had cheering on my school. I think the only thing left to cap off what has been a tremendous year, is winning the Big East tournament (a National Championship wouldn’t be half bad either – ha ha).
The Pirates are back in action on Wednesday when they host #21 Creighton at the Rock. Make sure you get to the game early as the first 4,000 fans in attendance will receive a Bill Raftery bobble head!
As always, Let go Pirates!
Feature photo: mycentraljersey.com