After one of the toughest road trips in college basketball this season, the Seton Hall Pirates will finally return home after playing three games in six days on the move.
In addition to falling to a strong Marquette team and a scrappy DePaul squad, the Pirates were defeated in their third and final contest to top-ranked Villanova in a convincing defeat.
After the loss to Villanova, head coach Kevin Willard focused on the pleasure of returning home and practicing in South Orange, N.J.
“I’ll tell you what we need. We need a couple days at home,” Willard said. “Where we can get some practice and we can get some rest.”
Willard compared this road trip to an NBA team’s schedule, but he wants to put the trip behind the team and convey a positive outlook with the chance to practice at home again.
“We just feel like we’ve been living in a hotel for all season long with our travels,” Willard noted. “Every time we’ve gone home we’ve had good practices.”
A good practice might be just what the Pirates need to get them back on track as the Hall preps to play three of its next six at home.
“It’s a big stretch,” Willard said. “We’re in pretty good shape. That’s what I told the team.”
Leading off the slate will be a St. John’s team led by head coach Chris Mullin.
The Johnnies are one game up on Seton Hall in conference play, boasting a 3-4 record with an impressive win over No. 13 Butler.
St. John’s also took on Villanova not long before the Hall did, losing by 13 points. Willard remains assured that his team will be ready come Sunday.
“I have total confidence in my guys that we’ll bounce back and be able to play,” Willard said.
It’s been a while since the Pirates were well-rested, and this St. John’s team is not one to overlook.
The team gave Seton Hall a scare on Feb. 21 last year at Madison Square Garden when St. John’s hosted the Pirates, as the Hall secured just a one-point victory.
New faces have been added to the roster and two of them have formed a dynamic guard combo that could give Seton Hall some trouble.
While the Pirates are powered by the veteran trio of Khadeen Carrington, Desi Rodriguez and Angel Delgado, it is the guard pair of Marcus LoVett and Shamorie Ponds who spark the Johnnies.
The freshman duo lead the team in scoring, as Ponds averages 17.1 points per game and LoVett contributes a healthy 16.4 points per contest.
In Mullin’s second year coaching, he is looking to establish St. John’s as an up-and-coming squad in the Big East, and a win at the Prudential Center would be a statement game for his young squad.
The Pirates will be ready when the teams tip off on Sunday, Jan. 22 at 12 p.m. in Newark.
Kyle Kasharian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ItsKyleKash.