For the first time since 2012, the Seton Hall men’s basketball team will take on the Stony Brook Seawolves on the hardwood, as the Pirates close out their Walsh Gymnasium slate in front of an anticipated sold out crowd.
Seton Hall comes into the game after a thunderous start to the season against Wagner. Finishing with an expected, yet convincing 105-71 win over the Seahawks, the Pirates will look to begin the season 2-0 in front of 2,000 fans in their on-campus arena.
The Pirates are 4-0 all-time against the Seawolves with the last meeting resulting in a 60-59 win. The prior three meetings, one in early 2012, one in 2002 and the first in 1999, all came with home court advantage for Seton Hall, and Nov. 9 will be no different.
The game will ultimately serve as a tune-up for Seton Hall prior to a meeting with top-five Michigan State just five days later. It ends the Pirates’ early game slate of opponents before the meat of the schedule comes to fruition.
Kevin Willard will also return to coach against Stony Brook after serving a two-game suspension for NCAA allegations into transfer tampering. The Pirates were noticeably rusty on the defensive side against Wagner, specifically in the first half, so having the head coach on the bench once again will undoubtedly be beneficial.
Willard and Seton Hall will undoubtedly be one of the toughest opponents that Stony Brook faces this year. As the current AP Poll stands, Seton Hall sits at No. 12 when it faces the Seawolves, and current No. 11 Virginia will host them on Dec. 18.
The Seawolves will hope to boost their confidence ahead of the grind of the AEC with a formidable effort against Seton Hall. Faced with tough competition such as UMBC and Albany amongst others, Stony Brook will need to fight hard in order to make a wave in the conference in the country.
The big battles of the afternoon will come down low, as Romaro Gill and Ike Obiagu, each 7-foot-2, of Seton Hall will be tasked with handling 6-foot-11 Jeff Otchere and 7-foot Alex Christie of Stony Brook. After dealing with the smaller and quicker centers and forwards of Wagner, it will be a switch up for the Pirates to deal with down low and a good test for games to come. Gill and Obiagu dominated offensively with dunks in the Wagner game but struggled defensively, and Wagner even outrebounded the Pirates in total. Thus, it will be an interesting strategical change for Seton Hall to deal with more “traditional” big men.
The Saturday affair will also serve as the final time for Willard and his staff to get the rotation set before Michigan State and other tough opponents. It remains to be seen if Gill or Obiagu starts, but the other four – Myles Cale, Sandro Mamukelashvili, Quincy McKnight, and Myles Powell – are set. Jared Rhoden and the second big man are the first ones off the bench, and a number of other players including Anthony Nelson come in after.
It remains to be seen if Willard will utilize the depths of his bench including Darnell Brodie and Taurean Thompson with big matchups looming ahead.
Regardless, the Pirates fans heading into Walsh Gymnasium on Saturday will certainly be expecting a win and should be rewarded with one.
Kevin Kopf can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find him on Twitter @KevinKopfH