Happy gameday everyone! Your Musketeers are playing in their final regular season road game and are in New Jersey today. To get you ready for the game, we talked to our good friend, Christopher McManus over at SHU Hoops to tell us all about Seton Hall. Let's see what he had to say.
1) This year's Seton Hall team looks really good compared to last year's implosion,. What changed to make this team so good?
This isn't the first time I've fielded this question in a pre-game Q&A and for good reason: there is a stark contrast from last season to present.
Earlier this campaign a New York media guy who has his ear to the ground re: Seton Hall but doesn't follow every game reminded me that this team is basically all sophomores. When I started to object he shot back with "But am I wrong?"
Seton Hall's starting five for basically every game this season has been their heralded 2014 recruiting class; only defensive guru Ish Sanogo has been added to the mix after rarely playing a year ago. With that in mind, it's easy to pinpoint that Isaiah Whitehead, Khadeen Carrington, Desi Rodriguez and Angel Delgado are probably the most seasoned set of sophomores in the country due to what they've been through and the minutes they've played over the past 16+ months.
Further, Kevin Willard hasn't really had the opportunity to mismanage personnel like he did with Whitehead/Sterling Gibbs and others last year; Seton Hall's rotation has been set in stone basically since early November (lack of injuries also helps).
2) Would KW be fired if the Pirates don't make the tournament?
Probably not. He has accumulated a lot of young talent on this team and has irons in a lot of local recruiting fires that are ripe to be tapped into.
It was rumored that his buyout significantly drops this off-season, but his contract also might run through 2019-20 (all speculation). He wasn't fired last March so unless they lose out in ugly fashion, I can't foresee it.
3) I've seen Seton Hall mostly around the 9 line in bracket projections. Is this fair? And how far does this team need to go in order to make this season a success?
Yes. Their non-conference schedule appeared to be mediocre but not bad in November but hasn't done them any favors since. Ole Miss and Georgia have turned out to be very average at best, Seton Hall lost to Long Beach State at the Charleston Classic and therefore played Bradley instead of Virginia, and George Washington (road loss) has fallen a bit since they were in the top-25. They're also missing any notable away-from-home wins besides winning up in Rhode Island.
4) Thoughts on #HALLIn?
Ah, the latest edition of the Seton Hall athletics marketing campaign. They have could have done a lot worse (see: "The Time Is Now" late in the Bobby Gonzalez / early Kevin Willard years).
Pre-season, I couldn't help but laugh at the implications when considering it a make-or-break year for Willard. Maybe he came up with it...
5) Score prediction?
Xavier 78, Seton Hall 74