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Big East Preseason Profile: Seton Hall Pirates

Kevin Willard has his Pirates in the national conversation.

Wendell Cruz

Seton Hall 2019 Record: 20-14, 9-9 Big East (NCAA Tournament 1st Round, lost to Wofford)

2020 Returning Minutes percentage: 84.9%

Graduated Seniors: Michael Nzei

Early departures/ transfers: **none**

Incoming talent: Ike Obiagu (transfer from Florida State, C), Tyrese Samuel (F)

Likely top 5: G Myles Powell (SR), G Myles Cale (JR), F Sandro Mamukelashvili (JR), F Quincy McKnight (SR), Ike Obiagu (SO)

Seton Hall last season:

Taking on a tough schedule, the Hall scuffled early but bounced back to knock off Maryland and Kentucky in December. The Big East was less kind; winning two at the end of the season got the Pirates to .500 in the conference (and one could say that some officiating made that record pretti — ah forget it).

Defensively, Kevin Willard’s team was solid as before, though the defensive rebounding dipped. Offensively, they struggled to hit threes and were often a one-man team. Myles Powell carried the team for stretches; the Pirates hope for stronger offensive contributions from the supporting cast this year.

Luckily, we were able to chat with Chris McManus of SHUHoops.com to learn more about the Pirates.


Rumble: Seton Hall has not had this much buzz around their team in decades. Does Kevin Willard have a legitimate championship contender?

This team certainly has as good a shot as anyone to win the Big East Tournament, but it will be all about consistency to win the regular season title; this team is deeper and one year more experienced, so another pair of 3+ losing streaks in league play would surprise me.

Rumble: Why is Myles Powell the premier player in the Big East over Markus Howard?

That’s interesting. Howard and Powell were pretty much even head-to-head on the court last year although Powell would get the nod if someone had to, and it’s even arguable that Howard has better KenPom numbers. But to your point, Powell has been marketed, if you will, as the league’s top talent.

I think Seton Hall has done a very good job on social and elsewhere of getting Myles the attention he deserves and I think him representing the league at the Pan Am Games (made some big plays too) helped a bit. Being named preseason player of the year was the icing on the cake to propel him to the All-America echelon. Can’t wait to see these two battle again this season.

Rumble: Who is Seton Hall’s biggest rival in conference?

Looking at recent history, you’d say St. John’s and then Villanova. But I’d say Marquette going into this year. These two teams have had a series of scrappy, closely contested games over the last couple seasons including some techs. Some of those players still remain on the rosters but the rivalry has spilled onto social media and forums with some Marquette fans/blogs really riled up; it only raises the stakes when fans care a bit more.

Rumble: What are the strengths and weaknesses of this Pirates team?

Strengths: Depth, Myles Powell, height/shot-blocking, versatile defense ... Weaknesses: Unproven consistent 2nd/3rd scoring option, specifically from perimeter ... Efficiency (KP 87th AdjO, 32.4% 3PT) ... Inconsistent distributor at PG. How will Powell/McKnight/Nelson be balanced?

Rumble: Which player does Seton Hall most need to see development from?

One of Myles Cale/Sandro Mamukelashvili. Both juniors experienced some sophomore slumps last year but did string some really good games together. Kevin Willard is going to expect at least one of his juniors to take the next step this year and make some all-conference honors by season’s end.

Rumble: Do you have any win-total prediction for this year?

I tweeted that I think 12.5 should be Seton Hall’s over/under for league play wins, although it seems many Hall fans are expecting the over. Citing a stronger league than last year, I’ll play the prove-me-wrong card and go with 12-6 and a Big East tournament title. As for the non-conference, anything can happen with such a tough lineup.

I’d say many fans would take a 9-3 record (Battle 4 Atlantis is big variable) with 10-2 being realistic if they meet expectations. Tie that all together and a 21-9 / 22-8 record with a strong strength of schedule heading into the Garden sounds about right to me.