Men’s basketball welcomes St. Francis to Newark for 59th matchup

The Seton Hall men’s basketball team will officially open their season this Saturday at home against the St. Francis (NY) Terriers for the second time in four years and the 59th time in program history, a series that dates back to 1909.

St. Francis finished fifth in the Northeast Conference last season with an overall record of 15-15 and a conference record of 10-8.

The Terriers lost three players to graduation including last season’s leading scorer Ricky Cadell.

Cadell, who played high school basketball with former Seton Hall player Jeremy Hazell, averaged 16.2 points per game, 3.7 rebounds per game, and 1.8 assists per game in his senior season.

Senior Stefan Perunicic returns for the Terriers after averaging 8.6 points per game last season as the team’s primary deep threat.

Perunicic, a native of Serbia, is currently third on St. Francis’ all-time list for three pointers made with 207 and is fourth all-time with 594 career 3-point attempts.

Seton Hall won the last meeting between the two teams on Nov. 14, 2008 by a final score of 88-61 at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.

The victory was their fifth straight against the Terriers.

The Pirates are 47-11 against St. Francis all-time.

Over the summer, Kevin Willard spent his first full offseason as head coach of Seton Hall adding recruits to a watered down Pirate roster which was void of seniors Jeremy Hazell and Jeff Robinson, the team’s two top scorers from the previous season.

Even with recruiting success, Willard understands the struggles of having such a young team.

“You just can’t replace a 2000 point scorer right away,” he said. “So we know we will miss Jeremy [Hazell], but I think we’re also going to really miss Jeff Robinson on both ends of the floor. His toughness will definitely be missed.”

Robinson, a transfer from Memphis who averaged 12.1 points per game and 6.4 rebounds per game during his senior season, played multiple positions for Seton Hall during his two year tenure, both inside the paint and beyond the 3-point line.

According to Willard, the team will rely on current seniors Herb Pope and Jordan Theodore to lead the young, inexperienced squad this season.

“The seniors are important, especially because we have no juniors on this team,” Willard said. “Jordan [Theodore] has really matured. He’s made such great strides this summer and he’s really helped our new guys adjust to everything.”

Willard also said the Pirates will try to implement a completely restructured game this season, running a more set-oriented offense, while simultaneously trying to assimilate the freshman.

“It’s been rough on the guards, getting them to play together,” Willard added. “But I think they are getting there. They are combo guards, so that makes them flexible. A guy like [Aaron] Cosby can play the one or the two, so that helps.”

The Pirates have not lost a home opener to a non-ranked opponent since 2004 and are 126-40 all-time against Northeast Conference teams.

Seton Hall’s series with St. Francis is the second most games played against a non-conference opponent in program history.

Tip-off on Saturday is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Prudential Center.

John Lopiano can be reached at john.lopiano@student.shu.edu

Follow John Lopiano on Twitter @johnlopiano

Author: Staff Writer

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