Although a young foundation is in place for the women’s basketball team, the three seniors nearing the end of their collegiate careers have been the most influential class on the court this season. Big East Preseason Player of the Year Shadeen Samuels, Alexis Lewis and Barbara Johnson have implemented themselves as key players for the program throughout the year and continue to do so as the team aspires to make a postseason push.
Even though Samuels is superstar of the roster, all three have been components in the program’s play. Lewis currently leads the team with 29.2 minutes a game, with Samuels averaging the third most and Johnson the sixth most. Head coach Tony Bozzella clearly has faith in the seniors’ experience to propel the Pirates to wins. In fact, the trust is so clear that Lewis is currently leading the team in shots with Johnson third, displaying they are perhaps the biggest playmakers of the offense.
Coming off of a season where she was the Big East scoring champion, first-team Big East All-Conference and the conference’s Most Improved Player, Samuel’s has still not quite achieved the status of play that earned her last year’s accolades but has continued to provide the team on both the offensive and defensive sides of the court spectacularly. The most efficient player with shot selection on the team, Samuels is shooting 55.6% from the field. Despite few shots taken from Samuels, about four shots less per game than last season, Samuels is still averaging 13.4 points per game, just less than the four more points she averaged in 2018-19. She is still playing high-caliber defense as well, as Bozzella has remarked multiple times throughout her career how much of an advantage she gives the Pirates when they do not hold the ball.
Lewis, in her first season after transferring from Iona, has had the most presence on the court this season for Seton Hall. While utilizing her team leading minutes, Lewis has put up 229 shots, as she is only one of two players on the unit to eclipse 200 attempts this season. Also the vocal point for the team behind the arc, her 150 three point attempts are the most on the team by 61 shots, although she is only depositing 30% of those shots. Similar to Samuels, Lewis is also pivotal on the defensive end, as she has a team-high 41 steals.
Johnson, another transfer (from Ole Miss), also in her final year is averaging 10.3 points and 3.6 rebounds in her 20 games of action. She has made the fourth most shots on the team, establishing the seniors as three of the top four leading shot makers. Johnson is also lethal from the free throw line, converting 81% of the time, the highest percentage of any player on the team with over 25 shots from the charity stripe. She is also second on the team in steals, fortifying the senior class as one that takes all parts of the game seriously.
With a 12-8 record and entering the final stretch of Big East play, the seniors will have to continue to lead by example for the Hall if they want to go from bubble team to contender in the NCAA Tournament. With the presumed best player in the conference, and experienced play from the other two players in the senior class, the Pirates have the opportunity to make noise into March.
Robert Fallo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find him on Twitter @robert_fallo.