2012-13 Record: 15-18 (3-15), 13th in Big East.
Coach: Kevin Willard: Fourth season at Seton Hall ; 49-49, Zero NCAA Tournament appearances. Previous: Three seasons at Iona; 45-49, Zero NCAA Tournament appearances.
Key Returnees: G/F Fuquan Edwin (16.5 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 1.9 APG, 2.4 SPG, .441 FG%), C Gene Teague (11.2 PPG, 7.2 RPG, .562 FG%), F Brandon Mobley (9.0 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 1.0 BPG, .496 FG%), G Brian Oliver (7.7 PPG, 3.7 RPG, .350 FG%)
Departures: G Aaron Cosby (Transferred to Illinois; 12.6 PPG, 3.0 APG, .426 FG%), G Freddie Wilson (Transferred to Drexel), C Kevin Johnson (Transferred to Cal State Northridge; 2.5 PPG, 2.0 RPG, .500 FG%), G Kyle Smyth (Graduated; 5.1 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 2.1 APG)
Projected Opening Night Starting Lineup: G Sterling Gibbs, G Brian Oliver, F Fuquan Edwin, F Brandon Mobley, C Gene Teague
Non-Conference Games That Matter: Nov. 9 vs Kent State, Nov. 22 vs Oklahoma (at Barclay's Center for Coaches vs. Cancer Classic), Dec. 8 at Rutgers (rivalry game)
Last Season at a Glance:
Coming off a 2011-12 campaign that saw the Pirates win 21 games, Head Coach Kevin Willard and Co. couldn't keep momentum going and the team stumbled to a 15-18 record with just three Big East wins. The Hall missed the NCAA Tournament for the seventh straight year, and the three Big East Conference wins were the fewest since the 1985-86 season. The season was marred by a litany of injuries that included a broken foot to junior forward Patrik Auda that limited him to five games, a shoulder injury to junior forward Brandon Mobley that limited him to 22 games, and an ankle injury to center Gene Teague that hampered him all season. With injuries to the front court, Seton Hall unsurprisingly struggled on the glass (just 33.5 rpg), and were dead last in the Big East in blocks.
Where the team did thrive, though, was on the perimeter thanks to the play of junior Fuquan Edwin and sophomore Aaron Cosby. The two guards played the most minutes on the team and provided Seton Hall's scoring punch. The 6-6 Edwin posted numbers of 16.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, and an impressive 2.4 steals per game which should have put him on the national map. But with the Hall's struggles, Edwin didn't get the national attention he deserved. Cosby was the team's long-range threat and attempted the most 3-pointers on the team, hitting at a 40 percent clip. Cosby was a nice complement to Edwin and went on to average 12.6 points and 3.0 assists per game. With the efforts of Edwin and Cosby, the Hall took, and made, the most 3-pointers in the Big East. Unfortunately for Coach Willard, Cosby transferred to Illinois leaving a huge gap in scoring as Edwin and Teague are now the only two returning players who scored in double figures last season.
With injuries hurting the Hall's depth and front court production, the Pirates ended the season with a first round Big East Tournament victory over South Florida before falling to Syracuse in the next round. The Pirates did not earn a postseason bid.
During the offseason, Willard bounced back from a disappointing finish and hauled in a nice recruiting class that featured 4-star guard, Jaren Sina and transfers Stephane Manga (forward), and Sterling Gibbs (point guard). All three add much-needed skills to this year's squad and each will likely log minutes right away.
With Fuquan Edwin back, Seton Hall has an NBA prospect and certified top player in the Big East leading the way. Edwin is the one surefire component for Willard on the perimeter as the pieces around the star guard remain in question. Making up for Aaron Cosby’s lost offensive production will be a challenge the Hall’s coaching staff must fix immediately. As stated above, Edwin and Cosby formed a potent scoring duo last season and Cosby’s 3-point acumen will be sorely missed. Not only was Cosby a scoring threat, he was also one of the team’s better playmakers, finishing second on the team with 3 apg.
Many of Cosby's minutes will most likely be split between guard Brian Oliver and incoming freshman Jaren Sina. At 6-6, Oliver was a part-time starter last season, and averaged 7.7 points and 3.7 rebounds per game. The Georgia Tech transfer averaged 10.5 points per game his sophomore year as a Yellow Jacket, and with an increase in minutes and responsibility, Willard will give the guard the chance to become a viable scoring option. Sina was a Top-100 recruit last year and can really fill it up. As a high school senior, the 6-2 combo guard averaged 21.3 points and 9.1 assists per game. During his career at Gill St. Bernard’s School (NJ), Sina shot 46% from beyond the arc and he will be counted on to step in and become the team’s long-range threat. Sina will split his time at both guard spots and Willard has said that he will not shy away from putting lineups on the floor that will feature two smaller guards.
At point guard, sophomore Tom Maayan logged most of the minutes last season and led the team with 3.1 apg. Taking over point guard duties as a freshman proved to be a difficult task as the Israel native averaged just 1.8 ppg and 2.8 tpg. With the aforementioned Sina and Texas transfer Sterling Gibbs now in the fold, Maayan will likely come off the bench as point guard duties are handed over to the newcomers. At 6-1, Gibbs is a talented shooter from beyond the arc and has a high basketball IQ. Gibbs played limited minutes as a freshman Texas, but after a redshirt year used to study Coach Willard’s offense, he will be asked to run the show from day one. It will be interesting to see if a year away from competitive basketball hindered his game at all once the season starts.
A backcourt duo of Gibbs and Sina will give other head coaches around the Big East headaches as both guys have the ability to score and handle the rock. Regardless of who ends up taking the reins as floor general, Seton Hall must cut down on its turnovers if they wish to succeed. Last season, the Pirates averaged 15.6 tpg (compared to just 14 apg) and really struggled due to lackluster point guard play.
Despite the transfer of 6-10 center Kevin Johnson, the Pirates front court will be bolstered thanks to a healthy core of Gene Teague, Brandon Mobley, and Patrik Auda. Teague, a 6-9 senior, posted numbers of 11.2 ppg and 7.2 rpg--impressive stats considering he battled through an ankle injury. The talented big man has reportedly lost 30 pounds which will help him finish above the rim and log more minutes as the season wears on. After an injury-plagued season, 6-9 power forward Brandon Mobley had offseason shoulder surgery to cure his woes. Mobley can stretch the floor and knock down jumpers (he shot 43% from 3 last season) and is a nice complement to Teague's presence down low. Auda, another 6-9 forward, broke his foot last season and played in just five games. In those five games, though, Auda was active, averaging 7.6 ppg and 3.4 rpg. Now that he's healthy, he will spell both Teague and Mobley without much of a drop off. Also in the mix is 6-6 JuCo transfer, Stephane Manga. Manga is undersized but has a versatile game and is a willing rebounder. If Willard chooses to play small ball, Manga will slide comfortably into the power forward position.
Defensively, the Hall has to get more production from its front court. Last season the Pirates averaged just 33.5 rpg and blocked under 100 shots on the season. Without a true rim protector, the big men will need to rely on positioning and winning the hustle plays if they want to see those numbers increase.
The success of the season will depend on guard play and whether the Pirates can remain healthy. Seton Hall must get consistent production at point guard and find a way to make up for the loss of Aaron Cosby. Fuquan Edwin and Gene Teague will post numbers, but someone else will have to step up and be the third option. Whether that’s Brian Oliver or Brandon Mobley remains to be seen as neither of these guys have proven to be high-impact scorers during their time at Seton Hall. Jaren Sina will get an opportunity to play and scored at will during his high school days but whether or not his skills translate to the next level remain to be seen. Sterling Gibbs will be the x-factor. If Gibbs can handle point guard responsibilities, cut down on turnovers, and get the pill to Teague and Edwin in rhythm, the Pirates will succeed.
The Pirates were picked to finish eighth in the Big East in the preseason coaches poll, but this team has sleeper written all over them. They are healthy, deep, and have a star player in Fuquan Edwin. If everyone stays healthy, the point guard issues are resolved, and a third scoring option emerges, 18 to 20 wins and a .500 record in the Big East is not out of the realm of possibility for the Pirates. Will that be good enough to get them into the Tournament? Doubtful, but they will be in the conversation as an at-large bid and will surely make the NIT with that kind of resume. The worst case scenario is Gibbs and Sina don’t live up to their billing, the Hall get crushed on the boards, and Edwin and Teague are left to fend for themselves each night. Whether the best case or worst case scenario happens, Kevin Willard and the Pirates have brighter days ahead as top recruits Isaiah Whitehead, Angel Delgado, and Khadeem Carrington join the program for the 2014-15 season.