Isaiah Whitehead enters sophomore season as established face of a Seton Hall team facing a potential make-or-break year for Kevin Willard. (Photo courtesy of the Newark Star-Ledger)
For as much turmoil as there was surrounding Seton Hall and their catastrophic collapse last season, the highlights early in the year were just as abundant. Head coach Kevin Willard used his combination of highly touted youth and invaluable veteran leadership to guide the Pirates to the No. 19 ranking in the nation, beginning the season 7-0 and scoring upset victories over a pair of ranked opponents in St. John's and Villanova in their first two Big East contests before it all went downhill in January.
The Hall has an opportunity to not only put the taste of last year's struggle away early next season, they also have several chances to make a statement in a nonconference schedule released Thursday morning, one that sees the Pirates return to the Charleston Classic after an opening weekend of home games against Dartmouth (November 13 at the Prudential Center) and Wagner (November 15 on campus at Walsh Gym) that serves as a deceptively strong test for what lies ahead.
In Charleston, Seton Hall opens up against Long Beach State on November 19 before facing Bradley or Virginia the following day, with the final game of the tournament coming on November 22. Following the Thanksgiving holiday, Georgia comes to the Prudential Center on November 28 as the first of three marquee opponents that will return the favor by visiting New Jersey this year after Seton Hall traveled last season. The Bulldogs, who lost to Michigan State in the NCAA Tournament last year, are one of three teams from the field of 68 that Seton Hall will, or potentially will, face before Big East play.
The Pirates' lone two true non-league road games begin the month of December, first returning a home game against George Washington by visiting the nation's capital on December 2, then taking the drive down the New Jersey Turnpike to Piscataway to meet Rutgers on December 5 in the Garden State Hardwood Classic. Home games against Troy (December 10) and in-state rival Saint Peter's (December 13) begin a four-game homestand at the Prudential Center headlined by the arrival of Gregg Marshall and likely Top 10 program Wichita State, who comes to Newark on December 19 led by the nationally acclaimed backcourt of Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker.
South Florida is Seton Hall's final nonconference opponent, as they take the floor at the Prudential Center on December 22 for the first time since departing the Big East in 2013. All game times will be announced at a later date, as will the Big East schedule.
2015-16 Seton Hall Pirates Nonconference Schedule
Friday, November 13: vs. Dartmouth (Prudential Center)
Sunday, November 15: vs. Wagner (Walsh Gym)
Thursday, November 19: vs. Long Beach State (Charleston Classic)
Friday, November 20: vs. Bradley or Virginia (Charleston Classic)
Sunday, November 22: vs. TBD (Charleston Classic)
Saturday, November 28: vs. Georgia (Prudential Center)
Wednesday, December 2: at George Washington
Saturday, December 5: at Rutgers (Garden State Hardwood Classic)
Thursday, December 10: vs. Troy (Prudential Center)
Sunday, December 13: vs. Saint Peter's (Prudential Center)
Saturday, December 19: vs. Wichita State (Prudential Center)
Tuesday, December 22: vs. South Florida (Prudential Center)