Coming into the 2017-18 season, the Seton Hall men’s basketball team will look to its veterans to lead. The team is returning seven players and much of its production from last year’s squad, including its core four of seniors Khadeen Carrington, Ismael Sanogo, Desi Rodriguez and Angel Delgado.
Compared to the rest of the Big East, the Hall is second in the conference in returning nearly 80 percent of its minutes played from last year. In fact, six of the top seven players with the most minutes played from last season are still with the Pirates this season. Only Providence has a higher percentage of minutes returned with 94 percent, over double the amount returned by last place Georgetown at 46 percent.
However, it is not just the minutes played from last season Seton Hall will carry over, but the majority of their scoring as well. Coming in just behind the Friars at the top of the conference, the Pirates have a remarkable 90 percent of its scoring returning from last year’s roster.
The next closest teams are St. John’s and Xavier with 73 and 63 percent of their scoring returning, respectively, while the rest of the conference falls below the 60th-percentile. The trio of Carrington, Rodriguez and Delgado, three 1,000-career point scorers, combined for 1,585 points last season. That total was good for more than 65 percent of the Pirate point total from last year.
With Delgado, the top rebounder in college basketball at 13.1 boards per game last season coming back for one more year, it only makes sense that Seton Hall was second in the Big East with almost 83 percent of its rebounds returning from last season.
Led by Delgado, the Hall is returning its top five rebounders from the previous campaign.
Without Delgado, Seton Hall would have found itself in eighth place in the conference with a 49 percent return rate of rebounds last year, just ahead of Creighton and Villanova.
The only major statistical category in which the Pirates did not finish in the top-three teams in the conference was in assists. The team found itself in fourth with nearly 65 percent of its assists from last year returning with players still on the team this year.
With Madison Jones, the team’s primary ball handler and assist leader from last season gone, the drop in assists makes sense. Coming into this season, the Pirates will hope Carrington can transition into taking over at the point, something he did for stretches last season enroute to his 97 total assists. The team will also look to sophomore Eron Gordon and freshman Jordan Walker to distribute the ball.
With the amount of success Seton Hall has returning from last season, the conference and the nation has been put on notice. Individually, Delgado, Carrington and Rodriguez have all been named preseason All-Big East selections, and the team was picked to finish second in the conference by the Big East coaches. Nationally, the Pirates are ranked No. 23 in the national AP Top 25 Poll, the team’s first top-25 ranking in the poll to start the season since the 2000-01 season.
“These guys have really worked hard to get the recognition they’re getting but at the same time keeping their focus on how they got here is very important,” head coach Kevin Willard said at the team’s media day on Oct. 30.
While the Pirates are happy with the success they’ve had so far, they are still not satisfied. Still, the production they are returning ranks at the top of the Big East, giving them a distinguished identity.
“Now it’s just trying to get [the team] to focus a little harder and work a little bit harder to achieve a little bit more,” Willard said.
Nick Santoriello can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @nicksantoriello.