Seton Hall Basketball Preview: #45
Overall Rank: #45
Conference Rank: #7 Big East Conference
2008-09: 17-15, 7-11
2008-09 postseason: none
Coach: Bobby Gonzalez (47-46 at Seton Hall, 174-123 overall)
Seton Hall struggled in the Big East and only beat one team that ended up higher than them in the conference standings. However, that is all about to change now that a few players who were sitting on the sidelines last year are eligible to play. In fact, many would say the practice team last year was just as good as the team Coach Bobby Gonzalez put on the floor. Now he has both of those teams to work with.
Key Losses: C Mike Davis, G Paul Gause, F Brandon Walters
The best of the transfers are Keon Lawrence from Missouri and Herb Pope from New Mexico State. Both of those guys could find themselves in the starting lineup right away. Lawrence started 20 games two years ago with the Tigers and tallied 11.0 points per game. Pope made great strides during his one season with the Aggies and is a great scorer and rebounder under the basket. Melvyn Oliver, another big man, and wing Jeff Robinson, a transfer from Memphis who will be eligible after the first semester, will finally give Coach Gonzalez plenty of quality depth. Add junior Jamel Jackson and Ferrakohn Hall, the lone incoming freshman, and this is a nice group.
Paul Gause was a great glue guy on the perimeter and his absence will be felt. However, the Pirates return Eugene Harvey and Jeremy Hazell. Harvey is now a senior and has slowly turned into an efficient and productive point guard as well as a great scorer. Harvey is not much of a shooter and he would be an even better scorer if his outside shot fell consistently, but he will still put up plenty of points by getting to the basket. It is Hazell who will knock down the long ball. He connected on an incredible 3.3 three-pointers per game and averaged 22.7 points. Hazell, at 6-5, is even big enough to help out on the glass. With Lawrence joining Harvey and Hazell, this will be a tough backcourt to stop.
Robert Mitchell is only 6-6, but is a tough and experienced power forward who ranked second on the team with 14.6 points and led the squad with 8.0 rebounds per contest. The senior will probably not give up his starting job to Pope, but he will not have to play over 36 minutes per game this year either. Mitchell’s ability to step outside and hit the long ball will spread out the opposing defense and cause a big problem. It is John Garcia who is the scorer under the basket. He averaged 8.0 points per contest and added 7.0 rebounds.
Who to Watch:
With Mitchell, Garcia and now Pope, the frontcourt is in great hands. When Seton Hall needs a shooter on the floor, they will have Mitchell playing. When they need somebody who can block shots and score with their back to the basket, Seton Hall will call on Pope. Pope even has enough size to play the five spot when Garcia needs a break, but that job could also belong to the 6-11, 340 pound Oliver.
This is a very talented Seton Hall team that could turn into a very difficult team to stop when they have the ball. Having a player like Pope or Garcia coming in off the bench will do wonders for the frontcourt. The only issue is how quickly this group can come together and play cohesive basketball. That should not be much of an issue since Lawrence, Oliver and Pope were all sitting on the bench last season, but it is different when they all have to share the ball for real. And if they do, the Pirates will be in the NCAA Tournament.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Eugene Harvey, Senior, Guard, 12.5 points per game
Keon Lawrence, Senior, Guard, DNP last season
Jeremy Hazell, Junior, Guard, 22.7 points per game
Robert Mitchell, Senior, Forward, 14.6 points per game
John Garcia, Senior, Center, 8.0 points per game
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