Gone-zo

Bobby Gonzalez was fired as head coach of the Seton Hall men’s basketball team on Wednesday after a long-thought decision by Msgr. Robert Sheeran. According to Sheeran, Gonzalez’s behavior on and off the court did not meet the expectations that the university holds as its ideal.

“I’ve been thinking about this for a long while,” Sheeran said. “Obviously everyone who saw the game (Tuesday) night saw a crystallization of all that was really wrong with the coaching and leadership. It was crystallized, but we’ve certainly been moving in this direction for some days now. It’s the right decision for the university.”

This decision comes one night after the Pirates’ 87-69 loss to Texas Tech in the opening round of the NIT. The game included the ejection of Seton Hall forward Herb Pope after he hit Red Raider forward Darko Cohadarevic in the groin, as well as Gonzalez receiving his seventh technical foul of the season.

“It’s not about wins and losses,” Patrick Hobbs, dean of Seton Hall Law and overseer of the athletic department, said. “It’s a totality of representation by our coaches and how they represent our university and how they develop young men – that we are fulfilling the ideals of the university.”

Athletic Director Joe Quinlan reaffirmed what the president and Hobbs stated.

“It’s very important that people are mindful of the timing of this,” Quinlan said. “We finished the season (Tuesday) night. There was a significant amount of evaluation that went into this. It’s important for us to really be mindful of the university ideals and the objectives that we expect of all the staff, particularly in a position that has a profile such as one of the head men’s basketball coach.”

Gonzalez was notified at noon on Wednesday.

“(Gonzalez’s reaction) was very brief and I thought he was reasonable. (He acted) very professionally, appropriately,” Sheeran said.

The athletes were notified immediately afterward; however, they were not made available for comment.

“(The students) are going to need some time to react to it,” Quinlan said. “They all have spent a considerable amount of time with Coach Gonzalez and the remainder of the staff. So there is a bond that exists among all those individuals. In it’s own way, this is a little bit of a disruption to them. That’s why we want to now work quickly, efficiently and in a very timely manner to have someone come in and take over the leadership of our students.”

No specific names of a replacement coach have been mentioned; however, a list of possible candidates is being developed.

“Joe and I will work together to make sure that we bring somebody who we believe can be successful on the court and who will represent all the best about Seton Hall University as we go forward,” Hobbs said. “We will cast a pretty wide net here in terms of our research and conversations.

There are some good minds out there in terms of talent and people who are the right fit for Seton Hall University and that’s who we are really determined to find – is the right fit for Seton Hall University.”

Hobbs also said the university has great respect for the effort that Gonzalez put in.

“He worked very hard, he wanted to win,” Hobbs said.

Gonzalez saw four years of on-the-court improvement at Seton Hall, yet his overall results never reached the expectations set when he began his tenure in South Orange.

After the Pirates fired head coach Louis Orr after the 2005-2006 season – an 18-12 campaign with an NCAA Tournament appearance – Gonzalez came to the Hall after a run at Manhattan College.

His coaching resume at the time was largely based upon two postseason wins with the MAAC school – over Florida (in the NCAA Tournament) in 2004 and Maryland (in the NIT) in 2006.

Year one with the Pirates saw Gonzalez finish 13-16 (4-12 in the Big East) and fail to qualify for the 2007 Big East Championship Tournament for the first time in school history; the league only took the top 12 teams in the conference for the tournament that year and Seton Hall finished 13th.

The Pirates moved past the .500 mark in Gonzalez’s second season, posting a 17-15 (7-11) mark. The major highlight of the season was a stunning win over Louisville, 92-82, at Prudential Center on Jan. 19, 2008.

The 11th place finish, while a sign of modest progress, only led to the Hall getting bounced in the first round of the Big East Tournament by Marquette, 67-54.

No further postseason play would happen for the team as it reportedly declined a bid to the College Basketball Invitational tournament, an event that has a high buy-in price to participate.

With the pressure mounting to get into a national postseason tourney, Gonzalez took Seton Hall to an identical record in his third season.
Despite the same win-loss mark, Gonzalez did earn two wins in the O’Reilly Auto Parts Puerto Rico Tip-Off tournament by defeating both USC and Virginia Tech. Additionally, his team upset Georgetown during the regular season, 65-60, on Jan. 25, 2009.

But losses to IUPUI and James Madison coupled with a tough Big East slate left Seton Hall out of NCAA Tournament contention. Needing wins in the Big East Tournament to make the NIT at the very least, Seton Hall knocked off the University of South Florida in the first round of the 2009 Big East Tournament, 68-54, for the first postseason win for Gonzalez at the Hall.

However, in the event’s second round vs. Syracuse, Seton Hall nearly took part in an on-court fight with their opponents before the Orange went on a run in the contest that helped to end the Pirates’ season, 89-74. It was a bitter end to the year, one that even placed Gonzalez’s job under the scrutiny by some local media members.

An extension to his contract on Sept. 10, 2009, seemed to give the head coach some security in his position, though – a move that was largely perceived as necessary to advance recruiting. The reported contract extension would keep Gonzalez in South Orange through 2015, a sign that the university’s administration was behind the oft-criticized coach.

Seton Hall found itself as close to the NCAA Tournament during the 2009-2010 season as ever before, posting a 18-10 regular season mark while finishing 9-9 in the Big East. Losses down the stretch to Marquette on Senior Day as well as to Notre Dame in the second round of the Big East Tournament placed the chances of an at-large bid to the “Big Dance” in jeopardy.

The NCAA Tournament Selection Committee decided to pass on the Hall on Sunday, the Pirates lost in its NIT matchup vs. Texas Tech at home on Tuesday, the rest is history.

After four seasons, Gonzalez only brought the Pirates past the Big East Tournament one time.

More importantly, the team has not made the NCAA Tournament since the year prior to Gonzalez’s tenure began – a mark that the next coach of men’s basketball at Seton Hall University will try to improve upon.

The 11th place finish, while a sign of modest progress, only led to the Hall getting bounced in the first round of the Big East Tournament by Marquette, 67-54.

No further postseason play would happen for the team as it reportedly declined a bid to the College Basketball Invitational tournament, an event that has a high buy-in price to participate.

With the pressure mounting to get into a national postseason tourney, Gonzalez took Seton Hall to an identical record in his third season.
Despite the same win-loss mark, Gonzalez did earn two wins in the O’Reilly Auto Parts Puerto Rico Tip-Off tournament by defeating both USC and Virginia Tech. Additionally, his team upset Georgetown during the regular season, 65-60, on Jan. 25, 2009.

But losses to IUPUI and James Madison coupled with a tough Big East slate left Seton Hall out of NCAA Tournament contention.

Needing wins in the Big East Tournament to make the NIT at the very least, Seton Hall knocked off the University of South Florida in the first round of the 2009 Big East Tournament, 68-54, for the first postseason win for Gonzalez at the Hall.

However, in the event’s second round vs. Syracuse, Seton Hall nearly took part in an on-court fight with their opponents before the Orange went on a run in the contest that helped to end the Pirates’ season, 89-74.

It was a bitter end to the year, one that even placed Gonzalez’s job under the scrutiny by some local media members.

An extension to his contract on Sept. 10, 2009, seemed to give the head coach some security in his position, though – a move that was largely perceived as necessary to advance recruiting.

The reported contract extension would keep Gonzalez in South Orange through 2015, a sign that the university’s administration was behind the oft-criticized coach.

Seton Hall found itself as close to the NCAA Tournament during the 2009-2010 season as ever before, posting a 18-10 regular season mark while finishing 9-9 in the Big East.

Losses down the stretch to Marquette on Senior Day as well as to Notre Dame in the second round of the Big East Tournament placed the chances of an at-large bid to the “Big Dance” in jeopardy.

The NCAA Tournament Selection Committee decided to pass on the Hall on Sunday, the Pirates lost in its NIT matchup vs. Texas Tech at home on Tuesday, the rest is history.

After four seasons, Gonzalez only brought the Pirates past the Big East Tournament one time.

More importantly, the team has not made the NCAA Tournament since the year prior to Gonzalez’s tenure began – a mark that the next coach of men’s basketball at Seton Hall University will try to improve upon.

Meghan St. John can be reached at meghan.stjohn@student.shu.edu.
Brian Wisowaty can be reached at brian.wisowaty@student.shu.edu.

Author: Staff Writer

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