As the title implies we will be taking a look at our Big East opponents and what they will be looking like heading into the coming season.
Seton Hall was projected to have a good season last year with the backcourt duo of Powell and McKnight entering their senior seasons and the rest of the staff returning. The non-conference provided several chances at quality wins. This somewhat worked out for them, none of their losses were too bad and they grabbed a win at St. Louis and a huge win against Maryland. Despite the loaded schedule, the Pirates sat at only 8-4 moving into Big East play. They rattled off 10 in a row off the back of the Maryland victory and were 16-4 before Xavier knocked them off at home. The Pirates still collected some good wins but dropped a few games against Creighton and Villanova and failed to close out the conference and finished 21-9 overall.
Seton Hall’s success was keyed by their balance between good offense and good defense. Thier offense ranked 28th and their defense ranked 31st by holding their opponents inside the arc and being 9th in the country in block rate. Myles Powell (21/4.3/2.9) was the man on offense despite shooting the lowest pecentages of his college career. Quincy McKnight (11.3/3.3/5.4) ran the point and hassled opposition guards while Romaro Gill (7.8/5.6/.1) blocked shots and got insanely overhyped.
Losing Powell, McKnight and Gill will be felt greatly by the Pirates but there are enough returning and incoming pieces to keep them competitive. The biggest returning name is Sandro Mamukelashvili (11.9/6.0/1.4) who is the biggest returning scorer and lifted his shooting percentages considerably while battling injuries last season. Jared Rhoden (9.1/6.4/1.1) lead the team in rebounding last season and dunked on Butler during garbage time which automatically endeared him to decent folk everywhere. Bit players Shavar Reynolds (4.2/1.8/1) and Myles Cale (6/3.7/.7) also return and Ike Obiagu (2.4/2/0) will look to fill some of the void Gill left in the paint (mostly blocking shots).
The biggest incoming name is Harvard transfer Bryce Aiken who filled it up in the Ivy League before getting injured last season. He will be healthy for the season and look to transfer his scoring to the Big East. Tray Jackson also transfers in from Missouri after not getting much playing time but should provide athleticism from the power forward spot. Takal Molson sat out last season and will now be eligeble and brings in 17ppg from the guard spot. Also coming in are a pair of 3 star guard recruits in Jahari Long and Dimingus Stevens. Long plays as a point guard and Stevens as a shooting guard. Both look like they will come off the bench this season.
Seton Hall returns some strong core players with a good level of experience and also adds in some scoring with Aiken and Molson. They don’t appear to have a facilitating point guard to set up those scorers though. Reynolds plays point guard but didn’t get a lot of burn last season and Long comes in as a point guard but may struggle with the college learning curve. The Pirates should have a good team once again and have the scoring power to punch with the top of the conference.