There have not been much anxiety or finger-biting moments this season when it comes to watching Seton Hall basketball. This sounds so foreign since every Seton Hall game seems like a game of survival by staying afloat in the Big East standings for the last eight seasons. There was so much riding on each Big East game for Seton Hall when it came to their NCAA tournament chances.
Seton Hall figured to have another season like this with Angel Delgado, Desi Rodriguez, Khadeen Carrington graduating. But in a surprising twist, it has been dull. Dull as in this team has been winning games with ease. Dull as in their games don’t make a Seton Hall fan nervous.
This is how Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard loves it. Like most coaches, he wanted to coach through a season where there has not been much adversity, but he didn’t even think this would happen this season. This is a sign right there that Willard has finally built a program that can sustain success right there with players graduating.
Seton Hall appears to be a lock to make the NCAA tournament for the fourth straight season after a 90-75 victory over the Georgetown Hoyas Wednesday night at Prudential Center. They are 15-9 for the season, and they are at 6-6 in Big East play after winning two Big East games in a row. They also have won three of four to avoid being in the bubble.
There was not much concern about Seton Hall’s tournament chances despite losing four of five to finish January. Their schedule down the stretch should be feasible for them to win, including three more home games this season. If the Hall win their home games like they did against Creighton and Georgetown in their last two home games, they will be in great shape.
The Pirates look like they are primed to play in March in what was a blowout win against an average Georgetown team. They played well from start to finish. They did not let up. They did not give anyone the impression they were blowing it at any time. They took care of business, which is what a coach loves to see out of his team.
It was a stress-free evening just like most of Seton Hall’s games this season.
Myles Powell led the Pirates with 30 points, and three other Seton Hall players scored in double digits in Sandro Mamukelashvili (11 points), Michael Nzei (18 points) and Myles Cale (17 points).
Seton Hall has received consistent contributions from Powell, Nzei and Cale, which is why they have not missed a beat. Their three best players have taken the next step when it comes to development after serving as apprentices to Delgado, Rodriguez and Carrington. They have received valuable minutes off the bench in the last two seasons, and it has paid off for them this season.
It also helps that Seton Hall has a point guard who can score and distribute the ball in Quincy McKnight.
It’s why Willard felt good about his team having a respectable season.
He did not know how much better Seton Hall could be. When the season started, the bar was just be decent enough to be a bubble team and get there. They are more than that. This is a team that can play in the Sweet 16 this season.
Seton Hall showed a glimpse of how good they can be when they beat Kentucky on Dec. 8 at Madison Square Garden. It wasn’t them beating a perennial tournament team that was impressive, but it was how they responded by outscoring them 14-13 in overtime after Keldon Johnson hit a prayer shot that had Kentucky tie the game and go to overtime. It could have been easy for the Hall to fall apart there after playing so well just to go to overtime.
It was right there that Willard felt really good about his team. It was there where Seton Hall fans felt this team will be okay with the seniors graduating.
It will be a surprise if Seton Hall finished the season by going on a slide. They have enough home games where they should be good enough to be in.
Sure, everything has gone right for them all season, so maybe Seton Hall could be in for a rough patch. From watching this team, though, do they give you an impression that they will fall apart in the end?
It’s just not Seton Hall basketball until they give fans reason to be nervous. This season just seems so different.
For Willard and the players, that’s a great thing.
Even the fans would agree.