Excitement within the Seton Hall women’s basketball team locker room is high after a sound preseason and undefeated start to the new season. Anthony Bozzella’s team was predicted to finish third in the Big East this year and have now won by 20 or more points in four consecutive games to justify that prediction.
Bozzella has taken pride in the electrifying, offensive identity his team has developed under his reign, and they are now starting to reap the rewards of the hard work that everyone has put into the program over the last six years.
After an eighth-place finish in the Big East last year, a returning upperclassmen core of Shadeen Samuels, Selena Philoxy and Desiree Elmore amongst others are ready to light up the conference. Samuels and Elmore have put up 35 and 47 points, respectively in the squad’s opening three non-conference matches of the season and show no sign of slowing down heading into their fourth game on Friday against Princeton.
“It’s something that we wanted,” Samuels said in reference to the early season hype the Pirates have received. “It’s something that we expected given that this is a very talented team, but it’s not something that we celebrated because it honestly means nothing. We could be picked first and be the worst team in the league. We’re proud that we’re up there because over the last couple of years, we haven’t. That’s something that we can’t really focus on because it doesn’t determine whether we’ll beat these teams or not.”
On the back of a stellar junior year, Samuels was named Big East Preseason Player of the Year and nominated to the Women’s Citizen Naismith Trophy Watch List. She comes into this year saying her confidence is “through the roof” right now, and the team as a whole is ready to take on anyone and everyone, they face this year.
“For me, it’s just to come out every game and play my hardest,” she added. “I want to work well with my teammates and possibly win every game. I know a lot of people think that’s not possible, but I feel like if we work hard and we play as a team with the team we have now it’s very positive.”
Bozzella shares Samuels’ pride for the team’s comradery through a challenging 2018-19 season into a promising 2019-20 season. Bozzella felt making the postseason despite an endless slew of injuries plaguing the squad warranted an optimistic outlook on the new season.
“For myself and my staff, we just need to give our best every single day,” Bozzella said. “The expectations I have for our team is to get better every day and to give out best. If we do those things and try our best, good things will happen like making the post-season five out of six times.
“It was difficult because we had a tremendous amount of injuries and adversity, but I thought the kids stayed together to make the NIT. To make post-season five out of six times in my six years and for the program to have only made five times in their history of NCAA women’s basketball before.”
With eight games to go until Big East play begins, Bozzella hopes to make it six postseasons in seven years under his management. A title may not be guaranteed with the competitiveness of the conference, but if the rest of the squad’s confidence is as high as Samuels’, they may be on the brink of bringing home some silverware at the end of the year.
Justin Sousa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find him on Twitter @JustinSousa99.