After opening the season with a 40-point blowout victory over Wagner and an exhibition game win over New Haven, it’s time to see what this year’s Seton Hall team is all about.
For the first time this season, the Pirates will hit the road on Wednesday night to take on a talented Nebraska team in the Gavitt Games. Coming off a 22-11 2017 season in which the Cornhuskers qualified for the postseason for the first time since 2014, the Cornhuskers have gotten off to a roaring start this season. Behind impressive performances from James Palmer Jr., Glynn Watson Jr. and Isaac Copeland, Nebraska has won its first two games by an average margin of 60.5 points while averaging 96.5 points per game.
This is a veteran Nebraska team that features a senior class that is hungry to reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time in their collegiate careers. Palmer, Watson and Copeland are all seniors and have the talent and experience to pose major problems for Seton Hall. Watson is a speedy point guard who reached the 1,000-point plateau last season and will likely finish his career ranking in the program’s top 10 for assists and steals. On the wing is Palmer, who was named a preseason All-Big 10 selection and down low is Copeland, who averaged 12 points per game, 6.1 rebounds per game and one blocked shot per game. Copeland’s name may seem familiar to Seton Hall fans, as he was a five-star recruit coming out of high school and spent the first two years of his college career playing in the Big East at Georgetown.
For a rather young and inexperienced Seton Hall team, this will be its first test of the season and it is coming in one of the toughest places in the country to play. As if containing Nebraska’s big three wasn’t already hard enough doing it on their home court becomes an even taller task. Nebraska went 16-1 at home last season with its lone loss coming to Kansas by one point. The Cornhuskers took down two ranked teams at home a year ago, including a 20-point drubbing of a Michigan team that went on to make the final four.
Seton Hall’s ability to go on the road and compete with a dominant home court team like Nebraska will speak volumes as to what could be in store this season. It is also the first of many non-conference tests that the Pirates will face before Big East play kicks off. If Myles Powell and company can at the very least keep it close against Nebraska, Seton Hall will have something to build on as its non-conference schedule progresses.
The key to doing this lies in playing stout perimeter defense and finding a consistent second scoring option alongside Powell. Watson has the ability to thrash Seton Hall’s defense either as a facilitator or as a scorer and if he has a big game, it’s hard to see the Pirates coming away victorious.
On the offensive end, someone will have to step up and put points on the board. Nebraska will be keyed in on shutting down Myles Powell, which could open things up for Myles Cale on the wing and Taurean Thompson down low. If Cale, Thompson or someone else can provide Seton Hall with another scoring threat, the Pirates will be in a position to hang around until the end.
Kevin Willard put together a tough non-conference schedule for a reason. Despite its inexperience, he believes in his team’s ability to get the job done in a hostile road environment against one of the better and more experienced teams in the Big 10. Seton Hall has the talent to get the job done and now, it’s about putting it all together under the bright lights.