Seton Hall may be down some key pieces, but the junior-laden squad’s confidence remains.
The Pirates, fresh off a Big East Tournament championship, were picked to finish fourth in the conference’s Preseason Coaches’ Poll, tied with Georgetown. Villanova, Xavier and Creighton were all slotted ahead of them.
— The Setonian Sports (@SetonianSports) October 11, 2016
“We’ve been slept on since I got here,” guard Khadeen Carrington said at Big East Media Day Tuesday, referring to the rankings.
Big man Angel Delgado said the rankings will serve as “motivation” for the Hall.
“We gotta prove people wrong,” he said. “We proved people wrong last year and still the same thing. We all play with a chip on our shoulder.”
Delgado is not too worried about preseason polls, though. Despite the losses of Isaiah Whitehead and Derrick Gordon, Delgado thinks this year’s roster can out-do last year’s.
“You might feel like I’m saying something weird, but I feel like we got a better team than last year,” he said. “The little pieces that we got – they’re really going to help the team. We’re going to prove to a lot of people that we’re better than what they expect.”
Delgado singled out transfer Madison Jones and freshman Myles Powell among those who will make an immediate impact, as well as frontcourt holdovers Myles Carter and Rashed Anthony.
Carrington echoed Delgado’s notion that this year’s Pirates will be better, though Kevin Willard was not so quick to endorse the claim.
“That’s why I don’t like bringing players to media day,” the coach joked. “We’re definitely more advanced than we were at this time [last year]. I can understand what they’re feeling.
“As long as they’re thinking that way, they better play that way.”
Willard said experience will play a huge factor in Seton Hall’ success. The Pirates are expected to start four juniors – Carrington, Delgado, Desi Rodriguez and Ismael Sanogo – until Jevon Thomas returns from his first-semester suspension. Until then, the coach is not sure who will fill that fifth spot, though Jones and Powell are candidates.
Regardless, the coach will rely heavily on his juniors. So far, he has been impressed with their maturation.
“They’re not men yet, but they’re young men. They’re not kids. I think they’re being held a little bit more accountable, both on and off the court,” Willard said. “They still have a lot to learn, but that’s what I love about this group. They understand that. They don’t think they’re there yet.”
Gary Phillips can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @GaryHPhillips.