Seton Hall men’s basketball made their return to the Prudential Center—this time, with students and spectators to cheer them on.
The Pirates started off their season with two wins against Fairleigh Dickinson University and Yale this past week. Students filled the student section at the Rock, a good number of them watching their first-ever home opener game since the pandemic or their first game ever after the remainder of the 2019-2020 season was canceled and no spectators were allowed during the 2020-2021 basketball season.
During the press conference following their win against Fairleigh Dickinson, Head Coach Kevin Willard said he noticed the energy in the stands.
“The students were awesome,” Willard said. “That’s the first thing the kids said in the huddle. They were just so juiced when they looked up into the stands.”
Player Bryce Aiken also shared his love for the fans during the press conference.
“Definitely an electric atmosphere being back in this arena with the fans,” Aiken said. “Great student turnout.”
Kylie Heneghan, a junior nursing major, expressed her joy to be back at the Prudential Center after the year break.
“Freshman year, going to basketball games was one of the best parts of Seton Hall, so finally being able to be back at the Prudential Center was awesome,” Heneghan said.
After the hiatus, both the dance and cheer teams were able to hold tryouts again, which students expressed enthusiasm for. Juliana Greenwood, a sophomore art, design and interactive media major is a new member of the Sapphires dance team.
“When I heard the Sapphires were holding tryouts for the upcoming season, I was so excited to try out,” Greenwood said.
Amanda Youngberg, a sophomore business major, is also a new member of the Sapphires. She said she loves performing at the Prudential Center so far.
“I love dancing at Prudential because of the support and excitement we can feel from the crowd and the fans that are watching at home,” Youngberg said.
Although fans had the ability to watch games on TV last year, they said the experience is not nearly the same as being in the packed stadium.
“The energy at the Prudential Center is something that I have never experienced before,” Greenwood said. “It is an amazing experience.”
Pirate fans were cut short of spectating their March Madness dreams in 2020. The men’s basketball team has yet to bring home the title of NCAA champions, and students optimistically expressed their hopes of the Pirates making it far in the March Madness basketball tournament this year.
“Dancing at a big game for the March Madness tournament with my fellow Sapphires would definitely be an experience I would never forget, and I really hope that it happens,” Greenwood said.
The Pirates’ next home game is against the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats on Nov. 28 at 12 p.m., and player Tyrese Samuels urged all students to continue to show up as they had for the first two games.
“We need you guys to be there every home game for us to keep on going and keep pushing,” Samuels said.
Alexa Toohey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.