99 in 99: #45 Seton Hall Pirates

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Talent?  Yes.  Experience?  Yes.  Consistency?  To be determined.  If Seton Hall can put things together under first year head coach Kevin Willard, they have a very good chance of being one of the eight or nine Big East teams to make the NCAA Tournament.

The Sports Bank’s 99 team college basketball preview in 99 days ranks the 72 power conference teams and top 27 mid-majors.  It will leading right up to the opening tip of the college hoops season.  Click here if you missed teams #46-#99.

By: David Kay

Seton Hall (T-9th, 9-9 in Big East, 19-13 overall)

Projected Depth Chart
F/C: Herb Pope (Jr)/Ferrakohn Hall (So)/Aaron Geramipoor (Fr)
F: Jeff Robinson (Sr)/Patrik Auda (Fr)/Anali Okoloji (Fr)
G/F: Eniel Polynice (Sr)/Fuquan Edwin (Fr)
G: Jeremy Hazell (Sr)/Jamel Jackson (Sr)
PG: Jordan Theodore (Jr)/Keon Lawrence (Sr)

Gone: PG-Eugene Harvey, C-John Garcia, F-Robert Mitchell (dismissed from team), C-Melvyn Oliver (transfer)

2010-2011 Outlook:
A .500 record in the Big East is nothing to frown about, but when you look at all the lost opportunities Seton Hall left on the floor last season, (they lost all four of their overtime games and winning just one of them could have put them over the hump and into the dance) it is easy to understand why ending up on the wrong side of the NCAA Tournament bubble was a frustrating finish.

New head coach Fred Willard could have been responsible for a major re-building effort this season with Robert Mitchell being dismissed from the team, John Garcia and Eugene Harvey graduating, and Jeremy Hazell, Herb Pope, and Jeff Robinson all deciding to declare for the NBA Draft.  Luckily for Willard, all three early entries chose to pull their names out of the draft and head back to school for another year.

In addition to that good news, Willard scored a major get when former Ole Miss guard Eniel Polynice elected to pursue a graduate degree at Seton Hall and use his final year of eligibility by playing for the Pirates.  He is a versatile, do-it-all guard who should immediately find his way into the starting backcourt alongside the limitless ranged, chucker Hazell and Jordan Thedore who will take over for Harvey at the point.  Keon Lawrence and Jamel Jackson provide proven depth.

Inside, Pope was one of two Big East players to average a double-double last season. (The other? Not Luke Harangody but Providence’s Jamine Peterson.)  He did suffer a major scare in the off-season when he collapsed after playing pick-up ball.  Assuming he is at full go for the start of the season and can return to being a beast inside, Pope’s presence inside should be a major contributor to Seton Hall’s success.  Jeff Robinson will have to play bigger this season as the depth up-front is very young.

If Willard can get the Pirates to play more aggressively on the defensive end and with unity on offense, the Hall has what it takes to be tourney bound.  They may have one of the more underrated starting fives in the country and could easily make some serious noise in the Big East.

Jeremy Hazell Seton HallPlayer to Watch: Jeremy Hazell, SG

Besides eerily resembling Smeagol from Lord of the Rings, dude is a straight up chucker.  He attempted more three point field goals than any other player in the country last season.  When he is feeling it, that is a dangerous weapon to have on your side as he can knock down shots from anywhere on the floor, demonstrated by Hazell scoring 25 or more points eleven times in 2009-10.  Unfortunately, for every one of those games there seems to be a 4-of-17 or 12-of-31 or 5-of-16 shooting performance like we saw last season.

Hazell is surrounded by talented players so it is not like he needs to shoulder the load every night.  If he can understand that fact, get his teammates more involved, and not force so many shots, it would not only make Seton Hall a better team, but probably help Hazell’s draft stock as well.

Key Non-Conference Games:
11/12 at Temple
11/19 vs. Virginia (Paradise Jam)
11/20-11/21 vs. Xavier/Iowa (Paradise Jam)
11/22 vs. Old Dominion/St. Peter’s/Clemson/Long Beach State (Paradise Jam)
12/8 vs. Arkansas (in Louisville)
12/22 vs. Dayton
12/26 vs. Richmond

Other 99 in 99’s:
#46 Wichita State
#47 Washington State
#48 St. Louis
#49 Old Dominion
#50 Minnesota
#51 New Mexico
#52 UConn
#53 Northwestern
#54 UCLA
#55 Southern Mississippi
#56 St. Mary’s
#57 Texas A&M
#58 Louisville
#59 Arizona State
#60 Northern Iowa
#61 Creighton
#62 Clemson
#63 Cincinnati
#64 Texas Tech
#65 Miami, FL
#66 Charlotte
#67 UTEP
#68 Ole Miss
#69 George Mason
#70 Colorado
#71 Weber State
#72 Alabama
#73 Bradley
#74 Central Florida
#75 Wake Forest
#76 Georgia Tech
#77 USC
#78 Oklahoma State
#79 Cal
#80 Oklahoma
#81 Virginia
#82 South Carolina
#83 Indiana
#84 Stanford
#85 Oregon
#86 Penn State
#87 South Florida
#88 Arkansas
#89 Boston College
#90 LSU
#91 Providence
#92 Michigan
#93 Oregon State
#94. Nebraska
#95. Auburn
#96. DePaul
#97. Iowa State
#98. Rutgers
#99. Iowa

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