Fielding questions from media members at Big East Media Day on Oct. 18 at Madison Square Garden, senior guard Khadeen Carrington was wearing two blue rubber bracelets on his right wrist. On either side, the bracelets read “Seton Hall Basketball” and “Family.”
When asked about them, Carrington said all the players wear them. They were created and handed out to the team by associate head coach Shaheen Holloway.
For Holloway, the bracelets are his expression of unity and motivation within the team.
“Just something that I think that our team should be thinking about, like last year we had, ‘one heart, one beat,’” Holloway said. “That’s just everybody is playing for each other; there’s no individual, there’s no egos, everybody just for one. It’s more of a team bonding thing, and this year, the theme is family.”
As the sayings varied each season, the bracelets have held different meanings for each year’s team.
“Coach Sha makes them every year, with a different meaning on it,” Desi Rodriguez said. “One was a quote, like a God quote, cause he’s very religious.”
Holloway started making the bracelets for the team four years ago, when this year’s seniors were freshmen. With Carrington, Rodriguez, Angel Delgado and Ismael Sanogo now seniors, Holloway sees them as the ‘parents’ that will teach the ways of the team to new players Sandro Mamukelashvili, Romaro Gill, Jordan Walker and Myles Cale.
For the seniors’ tenure at Seton Hall, their identity has been defined by the bond they have held throughout their college careers. Now, the time has come to invite the new players into the family and pass that bond and identity down to them.
“I think every year our team needs to have an identity, and what’s our identity every year,” Holloway said. “Last year I thought our identity should have been ‘one heart, one beat’ because if everyone ain’t on the same page, it isn’t going to work. This year, I thought it should be family, because we got older guys, we got younger guys. The older guys got to bring the younger guys in the family, show them what to do, show them how to do it. It’s kind of like a baby – get them stronger, get them bigger, and then let those younger guys take the way of what the old guys did.”
Carrington sees the bracelets as a representation of a bond the team has already formed. Together at Seton Hall now four years, ‘family’ is as natural an identity of the seniors and the team that can be fabricated.
“It’s just something that we say every day, we’re family, we go to bat for each other,” Carrington said. “Coach goes to bat for us, we go to bat for him, so we’re just a family.”
While many players wear the bracelets often, Rodriguez joked that he keeps his by his television because he is afraid he will lose them. That’s how much they mean to him.
As the team enters the season ranked No. 23 in the AP Top 25 Poll, expectations for the players are high. While the pace, demand and effort that makes up a full season can be overwhelming, the “family” bracelets act as a reminder for the team, from the coaching staff to the managers, of where their focus and strength remains.
“It’s just more of a thing where you constantly understand that you are playing for someone more than yourself,” Holloway said. “You’re playing for your team, you’re playing for your family. When we say family, we really mean it.”
Elizabeth Swinton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @eswint22.