After the loss of six seniors from last season’s eigth place, women’s basketball team, this season is looking bright for the Pirates. With a returning one-two punch of Big East Preseason Player of the Year senior Shadeen Samuels and Desiree Elmore, the Pirates are primed for a deep run in the Big East Tournament, as they are projected to finish third in the Big East by the league’s coaches.
Not only are the returners from last year’s squad poised to be standouts, but the influx of talented freshmen should also bring a breath of fresh air to the squad. Some have even made an immediate impact on the program in the first two games against Fairfield and Sacred Heart.
McKenna Hofschild is a 5-foot-5 point guard out of Point Lake, Minn. Although unable to get much time so far due to lingering injuries, her successful high school career grabbed the attention of the Seton Hall coaching staff, who brought all the way from around two hours outside of the twin cities to South Orange. Scoring over 2000 career points and averaging 28 points per game as a junior will definitely do that, along with breaking a nearly four-decade-old record by scoring 63 points in a single game.
Even though her outstanding performances gave her plenty of Div. I schools to choose from, she said Seton Hall was the right choice.
“When I came here on my official [visit], it just felt like home,” Hofschild said. “The atmosphere was amazing and the coaching staff really trusted me, so I felt like it was the right place to be.”
Lauren Park-Lane is a small, pesky guard who can handle and shoot. Already, in her first two games at the Hall, she is averaged 32 minutes per game and 7.5 points per game, leaving her mark on the team.
Park-Lane won the Delaware state championship with her high school in her senior year, putting her team ahead with a floater with 3.4 seconds remaining. Her winning ways she brings from her championship-winning season is something she wants to translate over to a Big East court, as she knows she can win a lot of games. With the impact she has already been making as a freshman, there’s little question she can help do just that in her time at Seton Hall.
Hailing from the same high school as University of Cincinnati men’s basketball star Jarron Cumberland, Mya Jackson was established as one of the best female basketball players in the state of Ohio by her senior year. Not only does she hold her school and county records for career points, but she was also named Most Valuable Player in the Ohio vs Kentucky All-Star Game.
However, good she was in high school, moving up to a higher level such as Big East basketball has a steep learning curve. For one, she wants to learn to be a better leader.
“In high school I had that role, but in college it’s at a much higher level and a much higher standard,” Jackson said.
Not only can she learn to mature as a player off the court, but there are also on-court adjustments to be made. She went on to say that the game is different, so there is a lot to learn from her coaches in order to adjust to Big East-level play. Jackson has adjusted well, however, as in two games while averaging 16.5 minutes per game, she has averaged 13 points per game.
Victoria Keenan brings some more local presence into the freshman class. Out of Bethlehem, PA, Keenan was, just like her teammates, a star in high school. She scored over 1,000 career points and set her school’s record for career three-pointers. She has yet to make a prominent impact on this year’s squad due to limited minutes, but she has the potential to be a true asset for the Pirates down the line.
In her final season in the white and blue, Samuels has been given the chance to reunite with a player from her past. Newcomer Kailah Harris shared the hardwood with Samuels four years ago at Ossining High, years before she scored over 1,000 career points and averaged a double-double for three consecutive seasons. Similar to Keenan, she has been given limited opportunity, but Harris should have no problem accustoming herself to Big East basketball with a 6-foot-1 frame that will for sure give her an advantage once she gets consistent playing time.
Coach Tony Bozzella has a lot of pieces to work with this season. Not only does he have fantastic leaders to build around, but he is bringing in one of the more talented freshman classes Seton Hall has seen in years. Hofschild, Park-Lane, Jackson, Keenan and Harris bring a lot to the table and are part of the reason expectations are so high in South Orange for the women’s squad this season.
Brendan Balsamo can be reached at Brendan.firstname.lastname@example.org. Find him on Twitter @brenbal.