Seton Hall may have wrapped up non-conference play with a 10-2 record, but starting Wednesday the Pirates’ schedule will become rigorous as Big East play begins.
With a matchup against a much-improved Marquette team up first, SHU head coach Kevin Willard took the time to speak about his team’s upcoming start to league play.
“Our progress has been pretty good,” he said of his team thus far. “I’m happy with where the guys are concentrating and focusing on areas we need to get better at.”
The Pirate’s first Big East test will come in Milwaukee on Wednesday when the Pirates take on the Golden Eagles, who also sit at a 10-2 record. Marquette has non-conference wins over No. 22 LSU and the 2015 NCAA runner-ups, Wisconsin.
Willard said that he is “excited” to start conference play, calling the Golden Eagles “well-balanced” and “terrific defensively.”
The last time these two teams met was in the first round of the Big East Tournament last season. The Golden Eagles knocked the Pirates out of the competition with a 78-56 win.
“It’s ancient history. We’re a different team, they’re a different team,” Willard said of the loss.
The head coach was direct when elaborating on those differences.
“Last year they didn’t have Henry Ellenson and we didn’t have sophomores.”
Ellenson, a freshman, has been the main contributor in Marquette’s early success this season. The rookie forward averages 16.8 points and 9.8 rebounds per game. He has also recorded seven double-doubles so far this season.
“He’s extremely talented, maybe as good as this league has had in a long, long time,” Willard said of Ellenson. “He makes everybody better on the court. He’s got the ability to push the ball around when he gets rebounds, he posts up little guys, he’s got a ton of different ways he can hurt you.”
On Wednesday the Pirates will do their best to limit the pain brought on by Ellenson and Marquette. The Hall will start its Big East journey at 7 p.m.
Olivia Mulvihill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter @OliviaMulvihill.