The burden of high expectation weighs heavy on both Seton Hall’s men’s and women’s teams this year with both teams being picked to finish at the top or near the top of the Big East. The women’s team, with its two most productive scorers returning in Shadeen Samuels and Desiree Elmore, and the addition of transfers and freshmen, was picked third in the Big East preseason coaches’ poll.
So far, the team is 4-1 and quality play from its standouts are a major reason why. Playing a relatively weak non-conference schedule is another reason, but the Pirates have not fallen victim to the dreaded trap and letdown games yet.
Nevertheless, the Pirates have been led by Samuels and Elmore thus far as expected. Elmore has averaged 16.4 points per game and backed that up with an impressive 8.4 rebounds per game. Elmore had a career-high 20 points in a loss to Princeton and recorded a double-double (18 points, 14 rebounds) in a win over Fairfield on Nov. 9. Samuels continued her usual torrid scoring pace, dropping 15 points with 14 rebounds in the season opener against Sacred Heart before an injury sidelined her for most of the Princeton game and the entirety of the St. Joseph’s game.
Besides Elmore and Samuels, Barbara Johnson and Alexis Lewis have stepped up as high volume scorers. Lewis, an Iona transfer, is the team’s second leading scorer at 14.4 points-per-game and Johnson, an Ole Miss transfer, is third on the team in scoring at 10.8 points per game. Both stepped up in Samuels’ absence, as Johnson had 21 points and Lewis had 27 in a close loss to Princeton, and Lewis finished with 12 including two three pointers in a defensive oriented 55-39 win over St. Joseph. Lewis is the team’s leading threat from distance with 12 three pointers on the season.
Two more big contributors are freshmen Lauren Park-Lane and Mya Jackson. Jackson has averaged 9.4 points per game so far and has nine threes, good for second on the team. Park-Lane has stepped into the point guard role with ease, dishing out 25 assists thus far, good for five per game and the most on the team, ahead of the versatile Elmore and Samuels, who both have 11.
If this mix of veteran leadership and young talent continues to produce and come together, the Pirates may very well live up to expectations and compete for a Big East regular season title and make a run in the Big East and NCAA tournaments.
Matthew Collins can be reached at email@example.com.