Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Pirates To Welcome New Captain To Ship

Seton Hall reaches into the MAAC to hire a coach for the third consecutive time, going with Iona's Kevin Willard to succeed Bobby Gonzalez. (Photo courtesy of Newark Star-Ledger)

Seton Hall has found their next head coach, and he comes to the Pirates from the same conference in which they imported both of their last two coaches.

Kevin Willard, who spent the last three seasons at Iona College, was hired over the weekend to replace Bobby Gonzalez at Seton Hall, edging out Siena's Fran McCaffery, the Pirates' supposed top choice that instead opted to take the job at Iowa. Willard will be introduced at a press conference on the campus of Seton Hall at Walsh Gym tomorrow afternoon at 1 p.m., just before St. John's will hold an introductory press conference of their own to welcome Steve Lavin as their new head coach.

Willard, who will turn 35 next week, started out as an assistant under Rick Pitino both with the Boston Celtics and the University of Louisville; and follows Louis Orr (Siena) and Bobby Gonzalez (Manhattan) as the third straight Seton Hall coach to make the jump from the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. His father, Ralph Willard, is currently the associate head coach at Louisville behind Pitino, and has previous Big East experience as a head coach at Pittsburgh. In an interview with Brandon Tierney of 1050 ESPN Radio in New York, the new coach stated that his first goal would be to get to know his new team, which will be led by shooting guard Jeremy Hazell, who will enter his senior season next year. Forwards Herb Pope and Jeff Robinson have declared for the NBA draft; but neither have signed with an agent, thus leaving the door open for each player to return to New Jersey.

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