It is never easy to lose some of the best players from your rotation. There are a number of factors for their leaving, such as transferring schools, entering the NBA draft, injuries, and of course graduation. For Kevin Willard and the Seton Hall Pirates, they had FOUR of their starters graduate and move on from the program. One, maybe two starters leaving is common, however four starters is essentially replacing a whole rotation and starting from scratch.
Photo: Asbury Park Press
The core four (Angel Delgado, Khadeen Carrington, Desi Rodriguez and Ish Sanogo), were special in many ways. There were THREE 1,000 point scorers (Delgado, Rodriguez, Carrington), and one of the best big men/rebounders in the country in Delgado. I could go on about the numerous accolades they received during their time at the Hall, as they were truly a special group of players.
That chapter is now over though and it is time for a fresh start for Willard’s program. To begin with, he had to retool his coaching staff. Top assistant coach and former Pirate legend, Shaheen Holloway left to become the head coach at St. Peter’s College, and longtime assistant coach Fred Hill, is no longer with the program either. In their place, Willard hired two respected coaches within the Division I community. Tony Skinn was the first hire, from Louisiana Tech University. He brings a wealth of basketball knowledge from his time on the bench as well as from his playing career at George Mason University (he was a member of their 2006 Final Four team).
Photo: Big East Coast Bias
Also added to the mix was Monmouth University assistant coach, Duane Woodward. He too has a well rounded resume. Woodward had a nice playing career at Boston College, and helped Monmouth achieve great success in the MAAC during his time there. As a Pirate fan, I am very happy with these hires, and I am very confident that they will further develop the players on this year’s roster.
Speaking of this year’s roster, Seton Hall will be getting major help from a few transfers and freshman recruits. Guard Quincy McKnight comes to SHU from Sacred Heart University. He sat out last season due to NCAA transfer eligibility rules. This year he will likely replace Khadeen Carrington as the starting point guard. McKnight is crafty and can score from the perimeter and drive to the rim. At Sacred Heart, he led his team in scoring with over 18ppg. He is a quality addition who I expect to help immensely.
Forward Taurean Thompson is another transfer who should help the Pirates this year in a big way. Prior to Seton Hall, Thompson spent his freshman year playing at Syracuse for legendary coach Jim Boeheim. What stood out to me about Thompson was that he averaged a little over 9 points per game despite just playing 18 minutes a contest for the ACC powerhouse. Like McKnight, he sat out last season as well. At 6-10, he will likely serve as the Pirates starting Center or Power Forward. Blessed with great athleticism, Thompson can beat you up in the paint with solid post moves and leaping ability, yet also step away from the basket and make jump shots. He is clearly one to watch up front.
Freshman guard Anthony Nelson and freshman forward Jared Rhoden, should provide quality depth for Willard off the bench. Both players are talented and will develop over time with the help of veteran leadership from Myles Cale and Myles Powell.
As you can see, there have been a lot of changes to the 2018-2019 Pirates squad. Despite that, I think the potential is there for another solid year, and if all goes well, for them to be a top team in the Big East.
My projection for the starting lineup is as follows:
Quincy McKnight – Point Guard
Myles Powell – Shooting Guard
Myles Cale – Small Forward
Taurean Thompson – Power Forward
Mike Nzei – Center
Key reserves: Anthony Nelson, Sandro Mamukelashvili, Jared Rhoden, Romaro Gill, Darnell Brodie.
I believe this team is going to have a tremendous year. They are young, talented, and have the Big East’s Most Improved Player, Myles Powell to lead the way. Powell in my opinion, will be the face of the team, and will have an even better year than he did last year.
Photo: Seton Hall Athletics
The Pirates kick off the year with two home exhibition games in Walsh Gymnasium against Wagner, Tuesday, 11/6 (6:30), and New Haven, Friday, 11/9 (3pm). They will then take on Nebraska, as part of the Gavitt Tip Off Games, in Lincoln, Nebraska on November 14th.
So Pirate fans, get ready for another exciting year of basketball!