Young Pirates will be tested in 2018-19

With Seton Hall’s full men’s basketball schedule having been released, it’s time to take a look at what lies ahead for a young Pirates’ team this upcoming season.

Kevin Willard scheduled this way for a reason. Seton Hall’s 10th-year head coach believes in the talent on his roster, even though the Pirates are young and inexperienced.

With Khadeen Carrington, Desi Rodriguez, Ismael Sanogo and Angel Delgado gone, this year’s version of the Pirates will have to learn how to play together and it will not be easy given the level of competition they are slated to face.

After a cupcake game against Wagner to open the season and an exhibition game with Division II New Haven, Seton Hall jumps right into the gauntlet of its non-conference schedule. A trip to take on a Nebraska team that will likely begin the season ranked in the AP Top 25 on Nov. 14 will be no easy task. When the Pirates return home three days later, they will face a veteran St. Louis team that many believe will finish near the top of the Atlantic-10.

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Once Thanksgiving rolls around, the Pirates will head to California for the Wooden Legacy Invitational. A field that features Grand Canyon, Utah, Miami and Northwestern will not provide Seton Hall with a holiday vacation. Every team in the tournament can give Seton Hall a serious run for its money and the Pirates will have to be weary of this.

The non-conference slate rounds out with a Chris Mack-led Louisville squad coming to the Prudential Center on Dec. 1. Seven days later, Seton Hall will be travel to Madison Square Garden to take on one of the most talented teams in the country in Kentucky. The annual Garden State Hardwood Classic game against Rutgers will be played on Dec. 15 before the Pirates conclude non-conference play with a trip to Maryland.

If Seton Hall’s non-conference schedule wasn’t hard enough, the Pirates won’t catch any breaks once Big East play begins. The Pirates will open with a vastly improved St. John’s team on Dec. 29 before heading to Xavier on Jan. 2 to take on a Musketeers squad hungry to prove it can maintain their spot among the elite programs in the Big East under first-year head coach Travis Steele.

Taking on Butler, Marquette and Providence in a six-day span will likely draw the ire of Willard, who has openly complained about Big East scheduling in the past. Likewise, four straight games against Villanova, Providence, Butler and Creighton will likely have Seton Hall fighting to stay fresh and healthy as the conference schedule winds down.

Unlike past years, Seton Hall will close Big East play with two consecutive home games. Traditionally, the Pirates have been able to make up ground in the conference standings thanks to a soft schedule to end the year, but that will not be the case in 2019. Marquette and Villanova are the two teams Seton Hall will close with – two teams that are likely to hang around the top of the Big East standings throughout the season.

The schedule does Seton Hall no favors, but good teams find ways to win games in the most dire of circumstances. Led by the likes of Myles Powell, Taurean Thompson and Myles Cale, this is a very talented group. The question is, can they put it all together before it’s too late?

Tyler Calvaruso can be reached at tyler.calvaruso@student.shu.edu or on Twitter @tyler_calvaruso.

Author: Tyler Calvaruso

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