On March 3, the Prudential Center will have the makings of a party.
As seniors Angel Delgado, Desi Rodriguez, Khadeen Carrington and Ismael Sanogo scan the audience, they will see shirts and towels scattered across the arena with their faces on them in celebration of Senior Day. It will be a moment four years in the making, with the class set to be honored prior to the game against Butler with framed jerseys and acknowledgment from the program.
Thomas Chen, Seton Hall’s associate athletics director for digital media and communications, described in an email why a celebration to this magnitude was organized.
“We as an external team were discussing how unprecedented this senior class is for the basketball program. It’s a foursome that has heavily contributed to a great amount of success,” Chen wrote. “We thought that since they’ve developed quite a bond with our fans, it was only fitting that we push our fans to make Senior Day a celebration of all the great things they’ve accomplished and help send them off into this year’s postseason with a memory they will never forget.”
Chen went on to detail how the seniors have engaged with fans, taking photos, signing autographs and giving apparel to young fans. They have celebrated with the student section after wins, giving high fives and thanking them for the support.
“Then beyond that, there’s been hospital visits, special “get-well” videos to fans who are ill, delivering pizzas to students, Christmas parties with season ticket holders,” Chen wrote. “You name it, they’ve done it.”
All fans who attend the Senior Day celebration will receive a towel with the animated graphic of the four seniors in action, and the first 1,000 students in attendance will receive an Under Armour T-shirt with the same graphic.
The graphic that pictures the four seniors was designed by Seton Hall alum Ben Douglass, a 2007 graduate who runs a self-titled graphic design and illustration business. The inspiration to create the graphic came from Douglass’ interest to honor the team he follows closely.
“I was a huge fan of the basketball team, always have been since I was in college,” Douglass said. “I decided I wanted to do my own take on a Seton Hall poster, so in early January I did something and put it on Twitter and Instagram. It was like a team poster, and it had the seniors plus [Mike] Nzei and [Myles] Powell. It got great attention and feedback on Twitter, so I figured why not try and get it in front of anyone at Seton Hall and see if they’d be interested in using it.”
The athletic department ended up showing interest, having Douglass tweak the image so it focused on the team’s four seniors. The graphic has since been used in marketing for Senior Day and will be visible throughout Prudential Center.
For the second straight week, Douglass will see Prudential Center adorned with his creations. On Feb. 24, he was on hand at The Rock to see the patch he created for the retirement ceremony of former New Jersey Devil Patrik Elias. On March 3, he will see his Senior Day graphic adorned on shirts and towels throughout the crowd.
“I can’t wait, I’m so excited,” Douglass said. “To have back-to-back weekends where my work is featured at the Prudential Center is super exciting. I really can’t wait…Seton Hall is near and dear to my heart, so it’s going to be special to me, for sure.”
Being a fan of the team since he was a student and attending games each year since, Douglass said this class of seniors changed the energy around Seton Hall basketball, a liveliness that will be reflected in the Senior Day celebration.
“You have to give these seniors a lot of credit because they completely changed the atmosphere at and around the games,” Douglass said. “Before these guys, if you went to one of the bars outside the stadium, it would be empty and the game would be empty. Now the bars are packed, there’s a true college atmosphere, the games are packed and so many of the games this year have been filled and sold out. They’ve really changed the culture around Seton Hall basketball.”
The hype the seniors brought to South Orange and Prudential Center can be defined by the class’s 12 victories against nationally ranked teams and 48-12 all-time record in home games heading into the Feb. 28 matchup against No. 4 Villanova. The home game against the top-ranked team will give the seniors another shot to add to their legacy.
Along the path of those victories came three 1,000-point scorers, over 2,800 rebounds, a Big East Tournament championship and two NCAA Tournament bids.
In an effort to sell out the game, Seton Hall created a website entitled “SHUSeniorDay.com” that leads fans to ticket purchase information, a meet the seniors guide and includes details of the event. As of Feb. 28, the website lists just 486 tickets remaining to attend the game.
“They have brought heart, grit and competitiveness to every game, and in just a few short months, they will proudly receive their diplomas and become graduates of this great University,” the site reads.
Opportunity awaits the seniors again at Prudential Center before heading to the postseason, seeking another Big East championship and NCAA Tournament bid. The setting of Senior Day, will be one of motivation, and while it will be a bittersweet moment for Seton Hall fans, the seniors will look to create some magic at The Rock one last time.
Elizabeth Swinton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @eswint22.