Just around the corner: Men’s basketball schedule released

For the Pirates, 2014 should end with a bang at the Prudential Center. The Pirates will open conference play on New Year’s Eve as part of a five-game Big East marathon when they host metro area rival St. John’s at 12 p.m. ET.

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The Hall will open a challenging league slate with four of its first six Big East showdowns coming at home. After facing the Red Storm and All-Big East first team guard D’Angelo Harrison, the Pirates will try to stop a dynamic big man in JayVaughn Pinkston and a strong point guard in Ryan Arcidiacono when they host Villanova on January 3, at 7 p.m. The Wildcats will be seeking revenge at the Prudential Center a season after getting knocked out by SHU in the Big East Quarterfinals, 64-63. ‘Nova is coming off a 16-2 regular season in conference play, one that saw the Wildcats climb up to No. 3 in the nation heading into the league tournament.

A tough start to the Big East season will continue for SHU when the Pirates head to Xavier. With the losses of Eugene Teague (graduation) and Patrik Auda (pursuing pro ball opportunities overseas), The Hall will look for senior Brandon Mobley and freshman Angel Delgado to lead the effort in containing Musketeers’ center Matt Stainbrook. The Pirates swept Xavier last year, winning 68-60 at a tough atmosphere inside the Cintas Center to open up the series. The atmospheres get no easier, but the talent level of Creighton is expected to drop with the loss of college basketball’s Player of the Year last season, Doug McDermott. The Pirates will head to the CenturyLink Center on January 10. Following a home stretch against Butler and DePaul, two teams trying to rebound from finishing at eighth and ninth respectively in the league, SHU will hit the road for another match-up with the Bulldogs. The Pirates will follow that up as Kevin Willard will face new Marquette head coach Steve Wojciechowski, who comes from Duke after serving under Mike Krzyzewski. The Golden Eagles do not return a scorer that was in double-digits last season after former head coach Buzz Williams left for Virginia Tech.

Arguably the toughest swing of the season will open when the Pirates host Georgetown on February 10. The Hoyas will be led by Big East Player of the Year D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, who led Georgetown with 17.6 points per game last season. With 6-foot-9 Isaac Copeland leading a top recruiting class, Georgetown is expected to improve after finishing seventh last year. The Pirates will follow that match-up with their longest road conference swing of the season. The trip begins with a game against Big East reigning champions Providence. Senior LaDontae Henton broke out for a big season in 2013-14, averaging 14 points and nearly eight boards per game.

Two days after visiting Providence, SHU will pay a visit to Villanova on February 16. The return trip to St. John’s will come five days later. The conference finale will feature a trip to our nation’s capital, as the blue and white will meet Georgetown on March 7.

The Big East Tournament will open on March 14 at Madison Square Garden as the conference takes to the “World’s Most Famous Arena” for another year.

On Wednesday, Willard formally announced the addition of assistant coach Dwayne “Tiny” Morton. The former 19-year head coach at Abraham Lincoln High School won eight city championships and three Federation titles while at the school. Morton coached both Isaiah Whitehead and Desi Rodriguez, who are both part of a consensus top-15 recruiting class coming into SHU. “It is an honor to join Coach Willard’s staff and work alongside experienced coaches who I have built strong relationships with over the years,” Morton told Seton Hall athletics. “Seton Hall University is a very special place with great basketball tradition. I am thrilled to have this opportunity.”

Along with the addition of Morton, who has coached New York City stars such as Stephon Marbury, Sebastian Telfair, and Lance Stephenson, the Pirates added two former players for Willard. Kyle Smith and Kevin Lynch will serve as coordinators of basketball operations for the program this upcoming season. Smyth came from Iona College, transferring to Seton Hall with Willard to finish his career in the 2012-13 season. Lynch walked on for the program last season after serving as a women’s basketball manager and team video coordinator for three years.

John Fanta can be reached at john.fanta@student.shu.edu or on twitter @John_Fanta.

Author: John Fanta

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