NEWARK, NJ -- Seton Hall opened their season in Newark Friday night with a bit of a bang, defeating Fairleigh Dickinson 90-68 to improve to 1-0 on the young season. Lots of positives took place for the Pirates against an undermanned Knights squad. Here are the 5 Thoughts from the first game in a season of high expectations for the Pirates:
Fairleigh Dickinson was going to be out-gunned by the Pirates in terms of talent on the court anyway, but with their best player Darian Anderson out due to the timetable for his recovery from a stress fracture sustained in the summer, the Knights didn’t stand much of a chance. Seton Hall dominated pretty much everywhere, but especially inside, as they out-rebounded FDU 44-27, with 18 offensive rebounds leading to 20 second-chance points and a 46-24 edge in points in the paint.
With no Anderson (who scored 27 last year against the Pirates in South Orange), there was nothing to offset that inside dominance for the Hall, which threw on a ¾ court press against FDU freshman point guard Jahlil Jenkins and surged ahead in the middle of the first half, keeping the Knights at bay the rest of the game.
2: “A Fine Bottle of Wine”
That’s how Fairleigh Dickinson head coach Greg Herenda (who was an assistant under George Blaney at the Hall in the mid-1990s) described the Pirates’ experienced roster. Seton Hall head coach Kevin Willard’s classic Willardian response?
“I don’t drink fine bottles of wine, so I’m not sure what that means. We’re definitely aged, let’s put it that way- I’ll take an ‘aged steak.’ I haven’t eaten today.”
Willard then added: “When you have as many seniors as we have- five of them and a redshirt junior- you have confidence in the fact that they’re going to get done what they need to get done. And I think the young guys are feeding off that a little bit.”
That senior confidence was evident in that after the Knights got off to a great start (12-5 in the first 3 ½ minutes), they still got overwhelmed by the Pirates as the first half went along.
3: Carrington Report
This season, with no true point guard on the roster, Khadeen Carrington has been given the keys to the car a la former teammate Isaiah Whitehead two years ago, who was also a scoring guard from New York City. After a good showing in the preseason, Carrington was sharp in the first game that counted for the Pirates. The senior finished with six assists and no turnovers, spearheading the Pirates’ offense, and if there’s one individual stat that dictates whether Seton Hall will have a great season rather than a good season, it’s Carrington’s assist-to-turnover ratio.
4: I Can See For Myles and Myles
Myles Powell and Myles Cale were both pretty good on the wing tonight for the Pirates. Powell started and finished with a well-rounded stat line of 10 points, three rebounds and three assists, but Cale impressed everyone in his collegiate debut, pouring in 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting with five rebounds and four assists.
Cale in particular hit a couple of contested three pointers that helped show off his size - he’s a bit bigger on the wing, and that should help the Hall if they can get contributions from the outside from both him and Powell. Cale also showed some driving ability in the second half, with a strong foray into the lane for a tough hoop-and-harm while being draped by two defenders. Give him an A for his first game at this level.
5: Balancing Act
With sudden newfound depth, Kevin Willard’s rotation went ten-deep tonight, with minutes being distributed on a pretty even basis- everyone who played saw at least 15 minutes of court time. I asked Willard if he got a chance to be a little creative with his combinations on the floor, but he said that since the first and second units are comfortable with each other from practicing with each other, that those units were pretty much kept the same. But if there’s one thing coaches love, it’s having options, and although it’s early, the Pirates do have a bunch of different talents on their roster that Willard can mix and match. Perhaps in the future, we could see some of that from the Hall.
Seton Hall has a quick turnaround before hosting Monmouth in Newark at 1:30 p.m. Sunday afternoon.