Welcome to The Sports Bank’s second annual college basketball season preview series. Last year we looked at 99 teams in 99 days. This year, we are being slightly more aggressive and expanding to 111 teams in 111 days. We will rank the 74 power conference teams and top 37 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order. We’ll break down rosters, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.
Last season the Seton Hall Pirates were an experienced team expected to compete for a NCAA Tournament berth. An injury to Jeremy Hazell threw a wrench into those expectations. This season there will be no such thing as second year head coach Kevin Willard deals with some major turnover to the Pirates’ roster.
Projected Depth Chart
F/C: Herb Pope (Sr)/Aaron Geramipoor (So)/Kevin Johnson (Fr)
F: Patrik Auda (So)/Brandon Mobley (Fr)
G/F: Fuquan Edwin (So)
G: Aaron Crosby (Fr)/Haralds Karlis (Fr)
PG: Jordan Theodore (Sr)/Freddie Wilson (Fr)/Sean Grennan (Fr)
Gone: SG-Jeremy Hazell, G-Keon Lawrence, G-Eniel Polynice, SG-Jamel Jackson, F-Jeff Robinson, F/C-Ferrakohn Hall (transfer-Memphis), F-Anali Okoloji (transfer-George Mason)
In his first season at Seton Hall, Kevin Willard was able to keep the Pirates competitive in the Big East despite an injury to Jeremy Hazell, mid-season transfers, and suspensions due to disciplinary reasons. Willard faces just as daunting a challenge this season with only five players back from last year.
One of those returning players is power forward Herb Pope. Pope’s minutes were decreased last season after a scary incident nearly cost him his life in the off-season. Pope’s production dipped as a result and he will look to bounce back a bit by anchoring a fairly inexperienced frontcourt.
Likely to join Pope in the starting line-up is sophomore Patrik Auda. Auda improved as his freshman campaign went along and provided some versatility due to his three-point shooting ability. 6-11 sophomore Aaron Geramipoor played sparingly a year ago and will be asked to take on a bigger role off the bench though Kevin Johnson will push for minutes as well. Brandon Mobley should be in the mix as well although he did dislocate his shoulder in early July and may need surgery which could cut into his season. This would be a fairly significant blow for a team that is already thin with numbers.
Starting point guard Jordan Theodore will lead an extremely young backcourt that features four freshmen. Theodore is an average talent compared to his Big East counterparts but his experience will be vital for Seton Hall this season. Fellow point guard Aaron Crosby is likely the best of Willard’s in-coming class and will should start alongside Theodore at guard, giving the Pirates a pair of players capable of handling the basketball and initiating the offense. Newcomers Freddie Wilson, Sean Grennan, and Haralds Karlis will compete for playing time behind Theodore and Crosby.
Perhaps the biggest surprise last season was the play of freshman wing Fuquan Edwin. He ended up starting 26 games and brings some needed athleticism to the floor. Edwin was a streaky outside shooter and if he can show some more consistency from the perimeter, he could end up being Seton Hall’s leading scorer this season. He will need to be a major factor for the Pirates since they have very little depth behind him and nobody with his explosiveness at the rim.
Willard did score a pair of key transfers this season in Georgia Tech wing Brian Oliver and Gene Teague, a big man from Southern Illinois. They will both sit out a year due to NCAA transfer rules but should make their teammates better since they are allowed to practice with the team.
While Willard was able to keep this team afloat a season ago, I doubt he can have the same success this year with such a young, inexperienced team. Expect them to compete with Providence and DePaul as the least of the Big East.
Player to Watch: Herb Pope
As I mentioned earlier, Pope’s impact as a junior was the not same as it was during his sophomore season. His minutes were cut a bit as a pre-cautionary measure due to a heart condition that nearly resulted in his death last April. It is hard to predict how effective he will be this season but if he can return to his sophomore year form and show why he is one of the best rebounders in the conference, it will help Seton Hall’s journey in avoiding the cellar of the conference standings.
Key Non-Conference Games:
11/17 vs. VCU (Charleston Classic)
11/18 vs. Georgia Tech/St. Joseph’s (Charleston Classic)
11/20 vs. Northwestern/LSU/Tulsa/Western Kentucky (Charleston Classic)
12/2 vs. Auburn (Big East/SEC Challenge)
12/10 vs. Wake Forest
12/21 at Dayton
OTHER 111 IN 111′S:
#90 Arizona State Sun Devils
#91 Marshall Thundering Herd
#92 Oregon State Beavers
#93 Washington State Cougars
#94 Iowa Hawkeyes
#95 Ole Miss Rebels
#96 Nebraka Cornhuskers
#97 Oklahoma Sooners
#98 South Florida Bulls
#99 LSU Tigers
#100 Colorado Buffaloes
#101 DePaul Blue Demons
#102 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
#103 Wake Forest Demon Deacons
#104 Seton Hall Pirates
#105 Providence Friars
#106 Auburn Tigers
#107 South Carolina Gamecocks
#108 Texas Tech Red Raiders
#109 Penn State Nittany Lions
#110 Boston College Eagles
#111 Utah Utes
David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank. He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities. David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu. He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft on the web.
You can follow him on Twitter at DavidKay_TSB.