Pirate preview: Seniors, weaknesses and March Madness

The biggest question for Seton Hall men’s basketball has already been answered in the nation’s top rebounder, Angel Delgado, returning for his senior season. The big man rounds out a core-four of returning starters, and with new weapons coming to the team next season, expectations are high. The Setonian’s Elizabeth Swinton, Tyler Calvaruso, James Justice and Andrew Lombardo take a look at what’s to come for the 2017-18 men’s basketball team, and how far the Pirates will go come March Madness.

What does the return of big man Angel Delgado mean for Seton Hall’s season?

It’s unanimous: It is hard to overstate what the return of Delgado means for Seton Hall. Without Delgado, the team would have struggled to get into the NCAA Tournament due to its lack of interior size. With him, the Pirates have the best rebounder in the country with a dominating post game. His return gives the Pirates arguably the most well-rounded roster in the Big East.

Photo courtesy of Joey Khan

What will be the team’s weakness? Will it be able to overcome it throughout the season?

ES/JJ/AL: What remains unclear heading into the season is how the ball will be distributed to create offense for others when shots aren’t falling for Khadeen Carrington, Myles Powell, Myles Cale and company. It would be asking a lot to expect incoming four-star recruit point guard Jordan Walker to be as ready to contribute as Myles Powell was last season, but that might have to be the case. Although the Pirates will struggle at times to move the ball, their offense should progress as freshman point guard Jordan Walker gains experience.

TC: As it was a problem last year, free throw shooting looks to be Seton Hall’s biggest weakness. The team improved at the line towards the end of the season, but it is still a major area of concern for Willard and the staff.

Multiple “way-too-early” preseason rankings have Seton Hall ranked as a top-25 team. Do you think that’s accurate?

ES/TC: A preseason ranking in the top 25 in the country suits the Pirates well. They return one of the best cores in all of college basketball and while there are still some kinks that have to be worked out, a ranking around No. 18 seems like the right place for them right now. With the non-conference schedule being as strong as it is, there will be ample opportunities for Seton Hall to climb up the rankings.

JJ: With the Pirates returning three seniors that are the caliber of Delgado, Carrington and Desi Rodriguez, the group has rightfully received top-20 respect in most of these “way-too-early” rankings. That being said, when the dust settles and talented teams with largely underclassmen cores find their peak I question whether Seton Hall will still be one of the top 20 teams in the country. They’ll certainly be up there, though.

AL: I think Seton Hall will be better than ranked No. 18 once the season hits. I think the Pirates’ combination of experience and young talent will likely bump up their rankings as the season approaches.

Does Seton Hall have the best senior class in Div. I basketball? What edge does it give the Pirates?

It’s unanimous: Yes, and this is something that probably won’t change throughout the course of the season, barring injury. Scoring 1,000 points is a tough task, Seton Hall has three seniors that have done so already: Delgado, Rodriguez and Carrington. Throw in defensive stalwart Ismael Sanogo, this senior class looks to be the best one in college basketball. This returning experience should give the Pirates an edge playing a tough non-conference schedule and dealing with the rigors of the Big East schedule. However, the Pirates need to prove that when it matters in March.

Will Seton Hall make the NCAA Tournament for the third year in a row? If so, will the team win a game?

ES/JJ: Seton Hall will make the NCAA Tournament for a third year in a row. The aspirations for this team ask questions of not “if”, but “how far” their 2018 March run will take them. And to satisfy Pirates fans, in what will be the final season of one of the best recruiting classes in school history, the answer needs to be more than one game. I say they do one better, and win two.

TC: It’s now or never for a senior class that hasn’t advanced past the Round of 64 the past two seasons, and taking into account the strength of the non-conference schedule combined with the Big East schedule, the team should get a much friendlier first round draw than it has in the past, which should get the Pirates at least one NCAA Tournament win.

AL: Barring any injuries or setbacks, Seton Hall will be competing for a higher seed this season, meaning Pirates fans should not worry about getting into the NCAA Tournament but rather what seed is received and where the team plays.

Author: Staff Writer

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