Seton Hall Athletics
When it comes to home-court advantages certain venues are unparalleled, and when stepping onto one of those floors, opposing teams know it will be a daunting task to come away with a victory. The court size, rim width and height and size of the backboard are the same in every arena, and yet some teams seem to be able to find a way to win at home at an astronomical rate.
This season, the Seton Hall women’s basketball team has elevated Walsh Gymnasium to that status.
It has been almost a full calendar year since the Pirates lost on their home floor. It was Feb. 9, 2014, when the women’s team came up short in a tightly-contested matchup to the Villanova Wildcats.
Since that point, the Pirates have rattled off 19-consecutive victories in South Orange, tied for the fifth longest active home winning-streak in the country. The Pirates are in great company, as two of the teams with a better home winning streak are No. 1 South Carolina and No. 2 Connecticut, a pair of perennially-elite squads. Arguably, the more impressive statistic is Seton Hall’s margin of victory in those 19 games, which has been an average of 14.4 points, just pure dominance.
It is not just the aura of Walsh Gymnasium that plays a part, it is the fervent fans that come out to support the team every time out. Head coach, Tony Bozzella, is the first to say how important the fans are to the team’s success and how that fan support is needed, especially in the biggest games.
Seton Hall Athletics
“The atmosphere has been fantastic,” Bozzella said. “Everyone has been so into the games, there’s clearly a home court advantage for Seton Hall when someone comes here.”
Bozzella has been the orchestrator behind the program’s transformation the last two seasons and he is just happy the fan base has a product that they have been waiting for.
“I’m just so proud of our fans for being our sixth man and supporting us at all times, they’re not just great fans, but great people as well,” he said.
It was only two seasons ago that the program won a total of 11 games and graduate guard Ka-Deidre Simmons, echoes her coach’s sentiments, that this team would not be experiencing this level of success without their fans. The Newark-native really saw how much the crowd played a factor in the team’s last game against rival St. John’s.
“The crowd was amazing, I don’t know if we would have won without them,” Simmons said. “That was the best crowd I’ve seen here, it was great to feed off the energy they provided and it carried us.”
Simmons has given fans a lot to cheer about this season and over the course of her career. She ranks second for Seton Hall and fifth in the BIG EAST, averaging 17.5 points per contest. Simmons also leads the conference and ranks No. 27 nationally with 5.5 assists per game. The team captain has been the driving force behind the 20-2 Hall, who hold sole possession of first place in the Big East standings with a 9-1 league record and have won seven-straight.
“Words can’t even describe the way I feel about my team, this crowd and this staff,” Simmons said. “We’ve come a long way, all of us, fans included, they make this gym one of the toughest in the Big East and even the whole country.”
The team and the fans will have another chance to prove how tough they can be at home this Friday as the Pirates take on the Providence College Friars.
One thing seems certain; the Friars will need a game plan for more than just the five players that will be on the court.