Seton Hall Pirates
Overall Rank: #100
Conference Rank: #11 Big East
2007-08: 17-15, 7-11, 11th
2007-08 postseason: none
Seton Hall and Coach Bobby Gonzalez slipped into the Big East Tournament at the end of last season. That is a good building block, but there are some key pieces to replace and another trip to the Big East’s postseason is an obtainable goal. Eventually the Pirates will have to reach a little higher, but it might take a few more years before that is realized.
Wing Brian Laing led the team with 18.6 points and 6.9 rebounds per game during his senior season. In an offense that struggled at times, Laing was the lone consistent scorer. Somebody will have to step into that role. The obvious candidate would have been the clutch Jamar Nutter, but he has run out of eligibility as well. Add Larry Davis to the list and Seton Hall has a whole lot of rebuilding to do on the perimeter.
Replacing some of that lost production in the backcourt was high on the list of things to do during the offseason. Point guard Jordan Theodore will do a little bit of everything and should be a fine backup point guard for a couple of years. At 6-11 and 340 pounds, center Melvyn Oliver will clog the lanes in the Big East for the next four years. Oliver came on strong towards the end of his high school career and is expected to be ready to make an impact as a freshman.* However, the biggest impact from the newcomers will come from Robert Mitchell. If that unexceptional name sounds familiar, it should. Mitchell earned Rookie of the Year honors in the Atlantic 10 while playing for Duquesne two years ago. The 6-6 forward averaged 16.4 points per game during his freshman campaign and should make nearly as big of an impact his first season in New Jersey.
* As of Oct. 31, Oliver is still waiting to see whether he's eligible for the 08-09 season.
Who to Watch:
Despite the losses on the perimeter, the Pirates have a trio of talented players ready to fill in. Eugene Harvey will run the point once again and, while he is inconsistent, Harvey certainly is talented. The 3.7 turnovers per contest are a problem, but when he goes on his scoring spurts, Seton Hall enjoys his presence. If the junior starts playing more like an upperclassman, the Pirates could be a surprise team in the Big East. Jeremy Hazell had a decent freshman season averaging 12.8 points per game. He will take a whole lot of three-pointers, but once he develops a game inside the arc, Hazell will be very dangerous. Paul Gause’s junior year did not go as planned while suffering through injury problems. He only played in 16 games last year, but he can be a consistent double-digit scorer if he can stay healthy.
Coach Gonzalez pretty much ran a four guard offense most of last year. As a
result, the team got outrebounded by over four boards per game. John Garcia will
definitely be in the frontcourt after averaging 6.9 points and 7.0 rebounds. The
development of Mike Davis and
Augustine Okosun* could go a long way in
determining the success of the Pirates. If successful, Davis could
end up in the starting lineup next to Garcia and that should put an end to the
rebounding problems, but it will squeeze out an outside shooter from the
*Okosun decided to transfer after this preview was written.
Projected Post-season Tournament: none
Projected Starting Five:
Eugene Harvey, Junior, Guard, 13.3 points per game
Paul Gause, Senior Guard, 7.6 points per game
Jeremy Hazell, Sophomore, Guard, 12.8 points per game
Robert Mitchell, Junior, Forward, DNP last season
John Garcia, Junior, Forward, 6.9 points per game