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Derrick Gordon and Seton Hall, despite controversy, could be a perfect fit

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Derrick Gordon decided to return to his home state to play at Seton Hall for his final season despite the firing of Father Warren Hall. The first openly gay athlete in Division I men’s college hoops could address many needs for the Pirates if the community can handle the situation.

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

When Derrick Gordon announced on Sunday that he would be transferring to Seton Hall, the word irony may have popped into the heads of many who heard the news.

The surprise had nothing to do with Gordon as a player, but the guard as a person. Gordon, the first and only openly gay athlete in Division I college basketball, had not only decided to transfer to a Catholic University, but one that is still dealing with major controversy.

It all started with The Archdiocese of Newark’s controversial decision on Friday to fire Father Warren Hall from Seton Hall after he posted a picture supporting the (Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay and Transgender) LBGT community on Facebook. Seton Hall University has done nothing about it. Students have started petitions that received upwards of 1,500 signatures in the hopes of bringing Fr. Hall back.

That announcement came before Gordon had made his decision, which could have left some doubt into his mind. However, it did not make a difference and Gordon is a Pirate.

Gordon told WSOU radio on Sunday that coming to Seton Hall was a "win-win situation." On suiting up with Isaiah Whitehead and Khadeen Carrington he said that "playing with those guys in the backcourt could be something special."

As far as the controversy on Seton Hall’s campus, Gordon addressed the issue of Fr. Hall’s firing, but did not seem too concerned.

"The president of the school [Gabriel Esteban] was welcoming to me," Gordon said. "It was a long process" that included "not getting recruited by certain schools because of my sexuality."

Seton Hall did accept him and now he looks to make a massive impact on the floor for the Pirates on the defensive end. Gordon talked to WSOU about bringing great defense to the Pirates and the fact that he wants to guard the best offensive player on the opponent’s team. That defensive mentality coupled with the fact that he wants to play for the Pirates are things that the team desperately needed down the stretch last year.

According to Gordon, the Pirates are getting "a player with a drive and will do whatever it takes to win."

"[Derrick] Gordon is a fit. He is a defensive stopper," Jerry Carino of the Asbury Park Press told WSOU on Sunday, "He is a hustle player."

Carino added that Gordon will be the best defensive player on the team.

Gordon, who averaged 9.8 points per game last season at UMass, talked about being a gay athlete at a Catholic university. "As long as I am accepted. There will be people who accept it and people who do not."

In the end, Gordon just wanted to be closer to home and his family, "My family will be able to come to all of my home games and support me."

The Pirates are getting a great defensive player, but also some leadership in the locker room that could come in handy. With the losses of Jaren Sina, Brandon Mobley, Haralds Karlis and now Sterling Gibbs, the Pirates were going to be a bunch of talented sophomores who still needed guidance. Now they have someone who can lead a defense and has played in the NCAA Tournament.

One question that still remains involves how The Hall will deal with this team off the court after all of the rumors that surrounded the Pirates last season.

"Off the court you still have to have unity," Carino said, "that still has to happen. Can the staff make it work?"

We will not know if the Pirates can figure it out with this team, but it certainly helps to have Gordon who can provide Seton Hall with experience and defense.

In the midst of the controversy, Gordon has already shown how cool, calm and collected he can be in these difficult situations that must be stressful for a college student. If that can translate on to the court, the Pirates may have found a perfect fit to help turn the culture of this team around.