In one of the program’s best regular season performances in recent history, there were many standout players that played pivotal roles for the Pirates to earn their co-championship.
Myles Powell was, of course, the star man of the team as he earned 2020 All-Big East First Team and Big East Player of the Year honors amongst many other prestigious accolades. Quincy McKnight, Jared Rhoden and Sandro Mamukelashvili became influential players on both sides of the court as they became the supporting cast Powell was missing last year to help push Seton Hall to new heights. Romaro Gill’s defensive solidarity was huge for the Pirates at several points throughout the season, and the numbers show it.
Here is a look at how the men’s basketball players progressed or regressed statistically in comparison to their performances last season.
Myles Powell: Powell’s final year with the Pirates saw a slight statistical decline in his shooting efficiency and points per game average. Last year, Powell was averaging a field goal percentage of 44.7% and three-point percentage of 36.3% his junior year in comparison to his 39.8% and 30.6% respectively from this season. His 23.1 points per game last year also took a slight dip to 21.0 this year. It’s hard to pinpoint what is responsible for these minor declines, but Powell’s shooting never seemed quite right following the concussion he suffered against Rutgers. The focus placed on Powell from opposition defense is also a plausible cause for these drop-offs. Powell drew two or three defenders every time he stepped onto the court and, even for a player of his caliber, that is bound to take its toll physically and mentally over the course of a season.
Quincy McKnight: In terms of players who didn’t see a big increase in their playing time, McKnight probably had the best statistical improvements amongst his teammates. He took 1.5 more three-point shots than he did last year and saw his three-point percentage skyrocket from 26.9% to 34.6%. From the line, McKnight saw another tremendous climb from last season’s 64.1% to an impressive 85.0% this season. These are numbers he hasn’t put up since his second year at Sacred Heart when he shot 32.1% from beyond the arc and 77.5% from the line. Though he couldn’t replicate his 18.4 points per game from that season, his 11.9 points per game this season were pivotal to Seton Hall in come-from-behind victories and tight games. McKnight’s 5.4 assist per game also helped him become more of an offensive threat this year. Defensively, he shined once again in the Pirates’ back court with 2.9 defensive rebounds per game and an improved 2.1 personal fouls per game from his 3.0 last year.
Sandro Mamukelashvili: Despite a fractured wrist that kept him out more than two months, Mamukelashvili’s statistical performances still saw good improvement from his sophomore year. Like McKnight, Mamukelashvili cleaned up his shooting and began taking more shots as he built his confidence. He attempted 1.2 more field goals than last year and saw a massive jump in his field goal percentage of 43.7% last year to 54.0%. His 43.4% from three-point range was also the best conversion rate of any Seton Hall player (McKnight’s 34.6% was second best). His three-point improvement in points per game was also the highest increase amongst his Pirate teammates with an 11.9 average. Having Romaro Gill and Ike Obiagu as big men as well as Jared Rhoden’s increased defensive contributions are partially responsible for Mamukelashvili’s decline in rebounds, but they enabled him to focus on providing the offensive threat he teased so often throughout last season.
Romaro Gill: Gill rightfully earned Big East Defensive Player of the Year and Big East Most Improved Player of the Year this season. In a side-by-side comparison, Gill’s numbers from last year are a whole different player from the defensive beast he was for the Pirates this year. His 3.2 blocks per game put the Prudential Center on their feet and seemed to be highlight reel worthy every time he sent a ball into the stands. His 7’2” frame was instrumental to the Pirates’ retention of the ball off the glass, averaging 3.9 defensive rebounds and 1.8 offensive rebounds this season. His defensive prowess was to be expected, but what really caught the eye this year was the remarkable improvement in his offensive game. He scored 7.8 points per game as opposed to the 2.3 he averaged last year, putting up 17 points on three separate occasions and hitting double digits in points in six consecutive Big East games. Even from the line, Gill nearly doubled his 35.7% free throw average from last year with his 67.5% this year.
Jared Rhoden: This was a breakout season for Rhoden, and he took the pressure of becoming a star player for Seton Hall in his stride. He averaged 4.0 more shots from the field this year and nearly increased his field goal percentage by 10% with his 44.1% conversion rate being behind only Mamukelashvili’s 54.0% and Gill’s 62.8% for best in the team this season. Rhoden’s 33.7% is also fourth best in the team and is 9.1% better than his shooting efficiency from beyond the arc from a year ago. His overall game made massive strides this year as Rhoden also asserted himself as one of Seton Hall’s better defenders and an enormous presence off the glass. He averaged more total rebounds and defensive rebounds per game than any of his teammates with 6.4 and 5.0 respectively. Rhoden’s ability to read the situation and pop up in the right place at the right time to retrieve a rebound has also helped improve his steals per game, with him averaging 1.2 this season.
Myles Cale: It was a disappointing junior year for Myles Cale. The flair from last year never seemed to materialize itself again throughout this season and Rhoden’s good performances quickly saw Cale dropped to the bench for a large portion of the regular season. His general conversion rate from the field did not take too much of a hit, going from 41.1% to 38.7%, but he was taking three more shots from the field last year in comparison to now. His three-point percentage also dropped significantly from 37.8% to 28.4%, and his 6.0 points per game was 4.2 points lower than his average from last year. Not much improvement was made on the defensive end of Cale’s game either as he fell from 3.5 defensive rebounds per game to 2.9 per game. It wasn’t the season Cale would have hoped for, especially with the rest of his teammates showing improvement from last year, but he has one more left to show Seton Hall what he’s capable of on the court.
Shavar Reynolds: Reynolds continued to play an important role for the Pirates off the bench and saw an increase in play time from 8.4 minutes per game to 15.8 per game. The junior guard repaid the faith invested in him this season by making positive strides in his offensive contributions. He improved his 2.0 points per game from last year to 4.2 and saw massive jumps in his shooting efficiency. Reynolds’ field goal percentage shot up from 26.2% to 43.0% while taking just 1.0 more shots per game, and he more than tripled his three-point percentage from 15.6% to 47.8% while taking just1.5 three-point shots per game.
Ike Obiagu: After missing last season due to NCAA transfer regulations, Obiagu finally got his opportunity to play in front of the Seton Hall fans. He didn’t necessarily light up the court with his time on the court, but he put up good numbers for a first-year rotation player in the Big East. He scored 2.4 points per game with his 11-point haul in the season opener being his best offensive performance of the year. His 1.2 blocks per game was a drop-off from the 2.1 he averaged at Florida State, but Pirate fans will have fond memories of the six blocks he made in the team’s 52-48 victory over Maryland.
Anthony Nelson: Stagnant would probably be the best way to describe Nelson’s second year with the Pirates. He didn’t tailor off from the standard of play he had last year, but there definitely wasn’t any significant improvement in the guard’s performances either. His field goal percentage increased from 34.5% to 43.8% with just about the same number of shots per game, and he provided 2.3 assists per game this season. However, he turned the ball over 1.4 ties per game and never quite seemed comfortable in possession of the ball during tight games or in crucial moments for Seton Hall this year.
Tyrese Samuel: In his first year with the Pirates, the Canadian forward became somewhat of a fan favorite with his inclination to shoot three-point shots and be a presence in the paint. He averaged 3.2 points per game, hitting double digits twice with 12 against Southern Missouri and 10 against Prairie View. He averaged 2.7 rebounds per game but sometimes found himself making silly fouls on the defensive end, making 1.2 personal fouls per game. Minutes were hard to come by in this strong Seton Hall team, but Samuel showed a solid foundation that can be built upon as he progresses through his college basketball career.
Justin Sousa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find him on Twitter @JustinSousa99.