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Seton Hall: Coach Kevin Willard’s expectations for Pirates are high, but cannot add more pressure

In order for this year’s Pirates team to succeed it is going to take time, which means patience has to be high and the pressure has to be low.


The 2014-15 season looks very bright for the Seton Hall Pirates because of a recruiting class that has been ranked in the Top 10 across the nation. However, this team is young and has lost veteran leadership, which is why head coach Kevin Willard’s expectations, for the sake of the young freshmen players, should be low.

When Willard put this stellar recruiting class together many around the Pirates team and the university were expecting a possible trip to the NCAA Tournament. Why not right? They signed Isaiah Whitehead, one of the best shooting guards in the nation out of high school and a McDonald’s All-American. The Hall added Angel Delgado, a highly-touted power forward and rebounding machine. In addition, they signed other talented guard like Khadeen Carrington, as well as Desi Rodriguez and  Michael Nzei who could play a major role in the frontcourt.

Guards Sterling Gibbs and Jaren Sina will return for their junior and sophomore seasons respectively with the Pirates, making this set of backcourt players special. The guards on this team will be what makes the team go, but the reason why the pressure will be on them so much is the fact that they are a young team and there will be a lack of depth in the frontcourt.

The losses of Fuquan Edwin and Patrik Auda will be big because that puts the onus on big men like Brandon Mobley, Northwestern transfer Chier Ajou as well as Delgado to all really step up. Without many players who we would consider veterans on this team it would make sense if they struggled at the beginning of the season. The guards will be expected to do so much for this team and that is why Coach Willard should not be setting many goals at all for the Pirates right now until he sees his young team play some big time competition.

It will be all about setting up many short term goals while keeping the long-term objectives in the back of player’s minds. That way when the opportunities arise for this team they will be prepared to reach those lofty goals.

With all of that said, when Willard looks at this team he should be very excited. Last year, he took a team that was not very talented as a whole to the semifinals of the Big East Tournament. Now that he has young team with talent, Willard will be thinking big for this season and beyond.

Seton Hall has not seen an influx of talent like this in a long time. It is going to come down to chipping away at the goals and taking everything one step at a time. An example I like to use for this is last year’s Kentucky Wildcats team. They struggled during the regular season while starting five freshmen because they were inexperienced and had not played that much together. But, after head coach John Calipari had a full season with them he was able to instill the right frame of mind and confidence in his players. When they got to the NCAA Tournament they were an No. 8 seed, but what did they do? They made it all the way to the National Championship game.

Is Seton Hall’s team this year as talented as that Kentucky team from last year? No, but it does not have to be to have an amazing season. Much like that Kentucky team from a year ago, coaching will be the key and managing the pressure that comes with being a first year player in college that comes from the fan base as well as people who analyze the team.

Coach Willard has shown in the past that he runs a pretty tight ship (no pun intended). Many star players from last year’s team including seniors were benched and did not even make the trip to games if they did not play well during practices or showed signs that they did not take the preparation before games seriously. The freshmen will likely buy in to what Willard brings to the table and should have this team ready to accept the challenges that lie ahead.

Expectations are high for the Pirates, but if the pressure is low and the Hall takes time to find their true identity as a team through coaching and hard work then maybe we might be in store for an exciting season for Willard’s bunch.