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Despite changes, Bozzella’s Pirates testify to consistency

[caption id="attachment_13716" align="alignnone" width="736"]© Gregory Medina © Gregory Medina[/caption]  

After last year’s huge success for the Seton Hall women’s basketball program, it was nerve-racking to see if the team would be able to duplicate it this season. After four members of last year’s starting five graduated, it was a waiting game to see how the 2015-16 season would pan out for the ladies in blue and white. A regular-season Big East title, a trip to the Big East Tournament finals and a bid to the NCAA Tournament all had to be lived up to. The team adapted in a manner the Pirates only know how to do. They played Seton Hall basketball all year and because of it, their tickets to a second straight NCAA Tournament were punched on Monday night. Enter Aleesha Powell and Shak- ena Richardson—both transfers, both suiting up and playing for the Pirates for the first time this season. There was talk in the beginning of the season that the two guards wouldn’t be able to live up to what both Ka-Deidre Simmons and Daisha Simmons were able to accomplish in the backcourt last year, but that wasn’t the case.
Powell averaged 14.2 points per game while Richardson averaged 12.4. Both played key roles in establishing a strong defense for the Pirates.
You can’t talk about this season without talking about Tabatha Richardson-Smith. The senior led the team in points per game with 18.9 and became the all-time leading scorer at the Hall. Her contributions on the court and how she stepped up this year played an integral part in getting back to the tournament.
Tiffany Jones and Lubirdia Gordon put in their parts too. They added not just height but unique talents to round out the new starting five. Another distinctive thing about this year’s squad is how it handled some of the inevitable bumps in the road. After three straight losses to Marquette, St. John’s and Georgetown, the team and head coach Tony Bozzella were frustrated, to say the least. Things weren’t looking good at the time. The team was falling to opponents it had beaten previously, was playing more sluggish than usual and it appeared that there wasn’t a clear leader. But the way the Pirates handled this frustration and turned it into capping the regular season with five wins shows how they play the “Seton Hall way.” They saw what they were doing wrong and learned from the mistakes they were making. Things began to connect again and SHU finished the conference in third place.
The team might not have ended the Big East tournament the way it wanted to - (with being knocked out in the semifinals by Creighton) - but hey, the Pirates are still going to the Big Dance. The team will graduate four starters—again—after this season and will most likely face the same doubts it did going into this season.
Next year, Bozzella is welcoming a highly touted recruiting class to help fill the new gap. There will likely be doubt once again, but ultimately, one should expect the “Seton Hall way” to prevail.   Olivia Mulvihill is a journalism major from Allentown, Pa. She can be reached at olivia.mulvihill@student. or on twitter @OliviaMulvihill.

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