Steady bench production needed for Seton Hall to contend

The Seton Hall men’s basketball team enter the 2018-19 regular season with many questions that need to be answered and many new faces entering the fold. While the Big East preseason coaches’ poll indicated a transition year for the Pirates, the bench production for this year’s team hopes to aid the gap left behind by last year’s senior class.

In the 2017-18, depth was one of the better parts of the men’s basketball team. Due to injuries and game-by-game lineups, Seton Hall had Desi Rodriguez, who averaged 17.5 points per game, and solid big man Ismael Sanogo, who averaged 5.3 points and 5.5 rebounds, coming off the bench at the end of the season.
Sandro Mamukelashvili, who will be one of the players expected to make a statistical leap, also contributed as a freshman he scored eight points or more three times in the four games in which he was given at least 20 minutes.

Villanova, which won the conference regular season title last season, had a bench aided by Donte DiVincenzo, who won the Big East Sixth Man of the Year after averaging 13.4 points per contest. Although they did not have an enormous contribution as whole from the non-starters, the Wildcats had someone off the bench who could score 25 points on any given night.

Butler, which finished second in the regular season Big East standings in 2016-17, had a strong bench that guided them to a 12-6 record in conference play. That season, Butler had three players who scored at least five points off the bench. Avery Woodson, Kethan Savage and Nate Fowler combined for over 17 points per game alone.

A team which tied for third place last season, Creighton, had a healthy contribution from its rotation players. The team’s bench combined for 37.1 points per game as a unit, as it had four different players contributing more than five points per game.

With the influx of new guards, especially freshman, the Pirates remain capable of getting contributions outside of projected starters Myles Powell and Quincy McKnight.

True freshman point guard Anthony Nelson, who was in the conversation for the starting spot, will be a player that offers an instant contribution offensively. Nelson’s versatility will be something that the Pirates desperately need.

Pure scorer Jared Rhoden will be featured in a similar role sophomore guard Myles Cale had in his freshman season, being one of the first guys off the bench. Rhoden averaged nearly 30 points per game in his senior year.

As Kevin Willard figures out which big men he will have as starters, the forwards that are not named starters can offer a steady dose of points off the bench as well. Taurean Thompson has showed he can fill the stat sheet when given minutes. In his freshman year at Syracuse, he scored double figures in 15 times and had multiple 20-point games.

While the new talent offers a plethora of potential, questions still linger about how much the new bench will contribute. If the non-starters can do a good job of adjusting into their roles left behind by last year’s team, men’s basketball gives themselves a legitimate opportunity to contend in the Big East.

Evando Thompson can be reached evando.thompson@student.shu.edu or on Twitter @Thompsev.

Author: Evando Thompson

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