By Matt Ambrose,
Sports Business Editor
The Seton Hall Pirates enter the 2017-2018 season with expectations as high as they were in the early 90’s. Ranked 23rd in both the preseason Coaches poll and the AP poll, as well as being picked to finish 2nd in the Big East Conference behind Villanova, this team has gained notoriety across college basketball.
One such player that has gained nation exposure is big man Angel Delgado, who returns for his senior season after averaging 15.2 PPG and 13.1 RPG, while totaling 27 double-doubles on the year. Delgado returns along with fellow 1,000-point scorers Khadeen Carrington and Desi Rodriguez, as well as defensive specialist Ismael Sanogo. Sophomore Myles Powell, who averaged 10.7 PPG and shot 33% from behind the arc as a freshman, will be slated into the starting lineup in place of Madison Jones, who has graduated.
The major question mark heading into the season surrounds Carrington, who will be tasked with playing the point guard position this season. Some have questioned his ball handling, as he had the 2nd-most turnovers on the team last year, averaging 2.3 turnovers per game. Running the point is something that Carrington has not been tasked with doing so far with the Pirates, but Head Coach Kevin Willard is showing trust in his senior heading into this season.
Nonetheless, Carrington was named to the Preseason All-Big East First Team along with Delgado. Rodriguez was named as an Honorable Mention in the poll. The team as a whole was ranked second in the Big East preseason poll, receiving one first place vote via Providence Head Coach Ed Cooley.
The Pirates bring in more depth than they have had in a long time, with a heralded class of freshmen set to take the floor at Prudential Center this season. Myles Cale, Sandro Mamukelashvili and Jordan Walker are all poised to make differences for the program this season. Cale and Walker add more firepower to the backcourt, while Mamukelashvili helps out a frontcourt that lacked depth last season. The team also brings in 7-foot-2-inch center Romaro Gill, a junior college transfer, who will fight for minutes in the now-crowded frontcourt. The team also welcomes Taurean Thompson and Quincy McKnight in as transfers, however they will sit this season due to NCAA transfer rules.
The Pirates will be tested early this season, as the team has built a tough non-conference schedule to help boost their RPI and NCAA Tournament resume. Their first big test comes on Nov. 15 against Big Ten opponent Indiana. However, they face a tough five game stretch that will prove a lot about this team. It begins on Thanksgiving night as the Pirates face Rhode Island in the NIT Tip-Off at Barclays Center. The following night’s opponent will be either Vanderbilt or Virginia. All three of those teams made the NCAA Tournament last season, and both URI and Virginia received votes in the Top 25 polls this season.
Following that, the Pirates face Texas Tech at Madison Square Garden before heading to Louisville to take on the 16th ranked Cardinals. The stretch ends with a home matchup with the VCU Rams.
As for the Big East schedule, the Pirates will open and close conference play with back-to-back home games. Their matchups with Villanova are scheduled for Feb. 4 in Philadelphia and Feb. 28 in Newark.
The Pirates kick off the regular season this Friday at Prudential Center against Fairleigh Dickinson at 6:30 p.m.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, November 7th print edition.
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