It’s officially basketball season.
Seton Hall was back in action in the historic Walsh Gymnasium on Friday night with its first exhibition tilt of the season against Bloomfield. The Pirates cruised to an 81-52 victory over the Bears, but the end result is never paramount in the preseason.
Friday night’s action provided coach Kevin Willard and his staff to get a look at some of his younger players, newcomers and different offensive and defensive sets.
Here are four takeaways from Seton Hall’s first live action of the season.
It didn’t take long for Seton Hall’s two newcomers to show what they’ll be bringing to the table this season.
Florida State transfer Ike Obiagu and freshman Tyrese Samuel made their Pirate debuts on Friday night and shined on the defensive end. Obiagu pinned a Bloomfield layup attempt in the opening minutes of the game and Samuel recorded a block of his own minutes after checking in for the first time. Both players were also solid on the glass, as Samuel hauled in 13 boards. He also delivered a pair of thunderous put-back dunks in the second half.
Even when they weren’t blocking shots, Obiagu and Samuel were making their presence felt down low with their length and physicality. Expect plenty of that out of them once the regular season rolls around.
After spending much of the offseason on the mend with an ankle injury, Jared Rhoden looked like he was in mid-season form against Bloomfield.
In his first three minutes of action, Rhoden nailed two threes from the wing and added a block, assist and steal. He finished with 13 points and three rebounds.
Seton Hall spent most of the night playing its big lineup, which left Rhoden playing small forward for most of the night — a role he is clearly comfortable in. Whether he’s in the lineup at small or power forward, Rhoden’s ability to impact the game in multiple ways will earn him a large chunk of minutes in Kevin Willard’s rotation.
A new look defensively?
Seton Hall broke out its zone defense against Bloomfield and it worked to perfection, as the Bears shot only 38% from the field and 27% from beyond the arc.
The preseason is the perfect time to experiment with new defensive sets. With two seven-footers in Obiagu and Romaro Gill in the mix, a zone defense actually makes sense for the Pirates against teams that don’t shoot well from the perimeter. Gill recorded five blocks on the night, which is a testament to the benefits of playing him in the middle of the zone.
Whether or not Willard opts to actually employ a zone defense in the regular season remains to be seen. Regardless, Seton Hall has the personnel to make it work if need be.
An early look at a possible rotation
Shavar Reynolds was Seton Hall’s first guard off the bench and served as the backup point guard to Quincy McKnight with Anthony Nelson (ankle) sidelined. Nelson is expected to return on Tuesday night against Misericordia.
Rhoden and Samuel were the Pirates’ first forwards off the bench and Gill was the backup center with Obiagu getting the starting nod. Taurean Thompson also saw minutes at power forward in the second half.