What a month of December it has been for Kevin Willard and his Seton Hall Pirates. A huge upset victory of #9 Kentucky at Madison Square Garden, winning the Garden State Hardwood Classic clash with in-state rival Rutgers, and now a big road win against a powerful Big Ten Maryland team. Pirates fans have a lot to be happy about heading into this Christmas break.
The last time Seton Hall played Maryland was back in 1975, and they lost 104-69. To put this in perspective, the game was played 22 years before I was born, and legendary ESPN/Fox commentator Bill Raftery was the head coach. Yes, it has been a very long time since these two teams matched up against each other.
Photo: Ottumwa Courier
Here are my takeaways for how Seton Hall won the game.
- The Pirates shot 85.7% from the free-throw line (THIS WAS HUGE), including a combined 16/16 effort from Myles Powell and Myles Cale.
- Willard’s decision to start 7’2 big man Romaro Gill at center was big (pun intended). Gill in my opinion, was the third most valuable player in the game Saturday. He provided the Pirates excellent interior defense, blocked 3 shots and corralled 8 rebounds.
- Myles and Myles. No need to elaborate on these two, they are playing at a really high level heading into conference play. Saturday against the Maryland they were magnificent!
Photo: Asbury Park Press
- The Hall did not give the Terps too many opportunities on the offensive glass. After watching Rutgers grab a mind-boggling 25 offensive rebounds in the GSHC, the Pirates only allowed Maryland 10 offensive boards Saturday. In addition SHU only lost the overall rebounding battle 36-31. This was impressive because the Terps star big man Bruno Fernando does his damage in the paint, and he’s joined by promising 6’10 freshman Jalen Smith up front.
How can Seton Hall fans not love this team right now? They have shown that they are capable of competing against any team in the country, highlighted by their incredible win against Kentucky at MSG. Kevin Willard has not only excelled in his play calling, but more importantly, he believes in the players he has and lets them play to their strengths. To date, it’s clear they are playing at full potential. Case and point are the contributions of Gill and Cale.
Overall, the win in College Park was superb for Seton Hall in many ways. Not only was it another resume booster come tournament time in March, but it should provide extra momentum for them as they head into their 12/29 match-up with the undefeated (12-0) St. Johns Red Storm.
Don’t sleep on this Seton Hall team folks, this is only the beginning of what I believe will be another strong season.
Feature photo: Newsday