Pirates’ promise impresses Big East
Amid the spectacle that the arrival of three new schools and a new president caused on Big East media day, the Seton Hall men’s basketball team found a way to stick out from the crowd.
“They’re bringing a lot of guys back and they’re going to be extremely good this year,” Georgetown guard Markel Starks said of the Pirates on Wednesday at the event in Chelsea Piers in New York.
“Year by year some teams have really good chemistry and I think they’re going to be really good this year,” he said.
Depth and continuity are not luxuries the Pirates possessed last season. Injuries suffered to bigs Patrik Auda, senior Aaron Geramipoor and junior Brando Mobley plagued their post presence. The absence of a stud point guard forced head coach Kevin Willard to throw then freshman Tom Mayaan in the mix a little more than he could handle.
This season Seton Hall welcomes freshman Jaren Sina and University of Texas transfer Sterling Gibbs to the back court.
Gibbs was forced to sit out for his transfer season last year and Sina is a top recruit grown locally in Lake Hopatcong, N.J.
“I think our guard situation has improved 100 percent just for the fact that you have Sterling, you have Jaren Sina, and now you have Tommy, three guys that can all play that position,” Willard said. “They can all play a little bit of the 2-guard so I think instead of Tom- my having all the pressure on him like he did last year, he’s got the other two guys that can help him at any time in the backcourt.”
The return of Auda and Geramipoor come as a relief to red-shirt senior center Eugene Teague. Teague shouldered much of the responsibility down low for the Pirates, leading the team with 7.2 rebounds per game.
“Me and him (Auda) play so well together so losing him last year, it hurt me a lot,” Teague said.
“Put me and him together now though, we play off each other very well.”
Willard acknowledged that his team’s strong projections for the upcoming season have something to do with getting rid of the injury bug.
“For us it was just a matter of getting healthy. Right now we have more depth so we can sustain an injury,” Willard said.
“God forbid someone goes down for a couple weeks we have some- one that can fill that spot,” he said.
As great as the future looks for Seton Hall, the day’s true focus was on the rebirth of a conference centered on basketball. New commissioner Val Ackerman’s opening remarks left an air of optimism and the consensus is that every program is happy and proud to be part of the new 10-team conference.
The Big East has welcomed Xavier, Butler and Creighton into the conference. “I think the three teams we added are terrific,” Williard said.
“To give the Midwest schools some closer rivals I think it’s good for them,” he said.
The new entries into the conference bring along some star-power particularly Creighton power forward and preseason Big East player of the year Doug McDermott.
Seton Hall senior Fuquan Edwin is aware of the new challenges that lie ahead for the Pirates.
“These new schools are coming in with powerhouse players,” Edwin said. “So we gotta look out for those guys as well.”
Gerard Gilberto can be reached at email@example.com