2007-08 Seton Hall Basketball Preview
Seton Hall Pirates
Overall Rank: #92
Conference Rank: #11 Big East
2006-07: 13-16, 4-12, 13th
2006-07 postseason: none
It was only two years ago when it looked like Seton Hall was dead and buried. With Coach Bobby Gonzalez entering his second year in South Orange, New Jersey, the Pirates have high hopes. A postseason trip may be asking too much right now, but looking for an NCAA berth in 2008-2009 is perfectly reasonable. For now, making the Big East Tournament is a step in the right direction.
Stan Gaines and Grant Billmeier are the big losses. While neither put up big numbers, the frontcourt will be extremely young and inexperienced without Gaines and Billmeier. Carl Marshall, Mani Messy and Kashif Pratt will not be returning next year, but none of those players averaged over seven minutes per game. And with the talent coming in, those numbers would not have gotten much higher.
The frontcourt does not just need depth, but one of the newcomers will likely be a starter right away. With his experience at the junior college level, 6-10 center Augustine Okosun is the logical choice. The Nigerian can run the floor and will be a force on the glass from day one. Mike Davis will see some time at both the four and five and will add another big body to clog the lane. Brandon Walters is an intriguing prospect. Like every big Coach Gonzalez recruit, he can run the floor, but with his ability to battle in the paint and step out and hit the mid-range jumper, Walters has the potential to eventually develop into a recruiting steal. Michael Glover can play either forward position, but his outside shooting will need a little more work before he can be an effective small forward. However, he is a quality rebounder and can fill up the scoring column in a hurry. Chris Smith and Jeremy Hazell will add depth on the wings. Both are terrific shooters, but it is Hazell who has garnered most of the attention heading into the season.
Who to Watch:
The bad news for Smith and Hazell is the fact that Seton Hall has a ton of perimeter players that will be fighting hard for minutes. The top five scorers last year, Eugene Harvey, Brian Laing, Jamar Nutter, Paul Gause and Larry Davis, all return and all are guards. It is feasible for Laing to play the power forward spot against smaller teams, but that may be difficult to pull off in the Big East, but such things have been done successfully before. Harvey had a great freshman campaign and led the team with 16.5 points and 4.2 assists. The turnovers are the only viable black mark on his 2006-2007 season, but that should improve with a year of experience. Laing, who also averaged 16.5 points, is a great rebounder and led the team with 6.7 boards, which is why he can play the four spot. Nutter is the best long range shooter on the team, but his overall shooting percentage is marginal at 33 percent. Gause, a junior, and Davis, a sophomore, could relegate Nutter to a sharpshooter off the bench if his consistency remains a problem.
John Garcia is the lone returning big man. After recovering from a bad knee injury, Garcia played in 13 games for the Pirates last year. If the 6-9 forward can get back into the swing of things, he has the potential to be a decent interior scorer. What Garcia lacks however is the quickness that the team needs from their big men. He will likely start anyway, but Garcia could lose his job to one of the incoming freshmen if he struggles with injuries or keeping up with the speed of the game. The frontcourt is a concern and Seton Hall at least needs the newcomers to provide a defensive presence under the basket. Finding an offensive threat would be helpful as well or the opposition can easily key in on the perimeter players.
Projected Post-season Tournament: none
Projected Starting Five:
Eugene Harvey, Sophomore, Guard, 16.5 points per game
Jamar Nutter, Senior, Guard, 12.3 points per game
Brian Laing, Senior, Guard, 16.5 points per game
John Garcia, Sophomore, Forward, 4.4 points per game
Augustine Okosun, Junior, Forward, DNP last season