Making three straight NCAA Tournament appearances is not an easy task. Now, more than ever, that feat seems increasingly unlikely for the Seton Hall women’s basketball team.
After all that Tabatha Richardson-Smith did during her time at Seton Hall, as well as the contributions of transfers Aleesha Powell and Shakena Richardson last season, and the duo of Daisha and Ka-Diedre Simmons the year before that, head coach Tony Bozzella brought in a large recruiting class this season; not only in size, but in talent as well.
Throughout the first third of Big East conference play, it is becoming apparent that losing key pieces is hurting the Hall. The Pirates have now lost six straight games and six of their first seven in conference play, boasting a record under .500 for the first time since 2013.
While there have been issues that the Pirates have found hard to correct as of late, confidence and positivity are not among them. Bozzella has been able to keep his girls moving one game at a time, and while sometimes difficult, he has them playing with toughness and intensity despite losing. That tenacity keeps him content with his team’s effort.
“We need to play with the confidence and intensity to win, which is most important,” Bozzella said after the 83-77 loss to Marquette on Jan. 10.
The Pirates were down as much as 23 in the third quarter, and cut the deficit to as little as three in the final few minutes of play, but could not make the final push. The second half of the battle showed Bozzella a much different side of the team.
“We maintained our competitiveness throughout but the biggest difference was that in the first half we played hard to play with them, but in the second half we played hard to try and beat them,” he said. “And that’s what you get with such a young team.”
The losing skid however, has not been kind to Seton Hall. Suffering defeats by an average of 17 points, many players have had their ups and downs throughout the month. Some, such as Claire Lundberg, have experienced peaks and valleys, but have held their heads high during it all.
“We need to build off of the confidence we play with, and if we can keep it rolling then we can try to get a good stretch from it,” Lundberg said after the Marquette loss.
The Pirates will not have it easy over the next month of play, but they have a chance to grab their first win in the new calendar year against Providence on Friday, Jan. 20. Losing has not taken away all of the Pirates’ morale, but a win would certainly help it.
Matt Lamb can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @MattS_Lamb.