* Frequent contributor, Kevin Astorino is a senior at Seton Hall University.
The Seton Hall Pirates are back baby!
That’s right, there’s only one week until the Pirates tip-off their season opener against Wagner in historic Walsh Gym. My excitement for the 2019/20 season is higher than ever, and there are a number of reasons for it:
- Myles Powell was named Big East Preseason Player of the Year, as well as a Preseason AP All-American
- Kevin Willard is back, after turning down the head coaching job at Virgina Tech
- 7-1 shot blocker Ike Obiagu (Florida State) is eligible after sitting out last season due to transfer
- 4-star recruit Tyrese Samuel should have a big impact in his freshman year
- The Pirates open the season ranked #12 in the AP Top 25
There is clearly a lot of hype surrounding the team as they appear in most, if not all, top 25 preseason polls. That’s great but puts a lot of pressure on Willard and especially superstar Powell. That being said, I truly believe SHU has the talent and depth to meet the challenge.
Despite losing the Big East final to rival Villanova by 1 heartbreaking point, and getting surprised by Wofford in the first round of the NCAA tourney at the end of last season, I believe the Pirates will bounce back big this year.
My projected starting lineup is as follows:
- PG: Quincy McKnight
- SG: Myles Powell
- SF: Myles Cale
- PF: Sandro Mamukelashvili
- C: Ike Obiagu
Photo: New York Post
Key Reserves: Jared Rhoden, Anthony Nelson, Tyrese Samuel, and Romaro Gill.
While I believe this will be the lineup that Willard will go with on opening day, it wouldn’t surprise me throughout the season to see it change from game to game. One thing that stands out with this year’s Pirates is that they have enormous size along their front line with Obiagu (7’1), Gill (7’2), Mamukelashvili (6’10).
Sophomores Jared Rhoden and Anthony Nelson should make a big jump in their games, logging more minutes in the back court this year.
Seton Hall will have plenty of challenges along the way, as they have one of the toughest schedules in college basketball. Some of the notable opponents on the ledger include:
- Michigan State (Gavitt Games)
- Oregon (Battle for Atlantis) – tournament also includes North Carolina, Gonzaga, Michigan, Iowa State
- Rutgers (@ the RAC)
Not to mention, the Big East is absolutely stacked with talented teams this year in Villanova, Xavier, Marquette and Georgetown.
Certainly, Willard and his team have their work cut out for them. They have a lot to prove this year in order to live up to their #12 ranking, meaning it will be exciting watching them battle each game against some of the best opponents in the country.
Buckle up, get ready for an epic season, and as always, let’s go Pirates!
Feature Photo: Newsday