Seton Hall held their annual Media Day festivities in Walsh Gym on Tuesday afternoon. About 25 people were there, including myself, as first there was a presser from Coach Willard, then a time for one-on-ones with the players. After that, we were all treated to a practice, with several members of the media leaving before practice concluded. Let the record show that I did not.
Here are some highlights:
- DE-FENSE (clap, clap)
Willard is nothing if not a) consistent, and b) a fanatic about defense. He basically reiterated the fact that he wants the team to develop a defensive mindset. He also said that there is enough talent on this team that he would let them play... except on "his end of the floor- the defensive end." In practice, he drilled the Pirates time and time again on their defense; when a player made a mistake on defense, he didn't let it go unnoticed- he started the play over. The players I talked to all talked about the defense as being one of the big differences between this year and last year, and that is solely because of Willard. Expect constant effort on that end of the floor at the very least this year.
- Come together... but not right now
The Pirates had a closed scrimmage with Rider, and Willard said that he saw signs that the team was coming together. On defense, he expects the Pirates to be a good team by December. He also said the Pirates could go 10-11 deep when healthy, something about as foreign as can be under Bobby Gonzalez. According to Willard, the veterans have bought in to his style and his system, something that is also good at this point.
Willard said the team is more mature than last year (for obvious reasons) and he said that it would help with the end-of-game situations. He also went out of his way to praise Jeremy Hazell, whom he called a "leader"and "the biggest and most pleasant surprise." Jordan Theodore also said that he was looking forward to his new responsibilities as the starting point guard, the most complex and important position in Willard's offense.
More from the open practice:
- The Pirates ran so many screens, backscreens, and side screens that it made my head spin. I don't think the Pirates ran that many screens last year in a game, let alone a practice.
- Patrik Auda was back on the court, and he is a tough matchup with his shooting ability and the fact that he's a lefty. He won't be a lights-out shooter from deep, but he will definitely help. Aaron Geramipoor was sick with what Willard described as mono. More on this as it becomes available.
- Anali Okoloji looked lost today on several occasions. Coach wants to go 10-11 deep, and right now Okoloji is at the near-bottom of that list. He did just come back from a stress fracture, but he definitely won't be a major contributor right away.
- Fuquan Edwin defended well today, but his corkscrew jumper needs some work. Ditto for Eniel Polynice.
That's all for now. Friday night, the Pirates play William Paterson in an exhibition at Walsh. Coach Willard said that the fans should come to the games and show their support, so that starts Friday. I'll be at the game, then hosting Hall Line on 89.5 FM WSOU afterwards. Get excited, Pirate fans- there was a general good vibe around the team today. And that can only mean good things.