The Kevin Willard era is underway. The official press release form Seton Hall University can be read in it's entirity here. Coach Willard's comments:
"I'm really excited about this opportunity," Willard said. "It has been a goal of mine for a long time to have the opportunity to coach in the BIG EAST. It's an honor, considering the caliber of coaches in this conference. There is a great challenge ahead of us, but my staff and I are really looking forward to hitting the ground running and integrating ourselves into the Seton Hall University community."
Willard also granted his first interview as Seton Hall head coach to SNY last night, which you can view here:
Impressive interview. Willard referred to coaching in the Big East as, "a great honor," touched on the advice he received from Rick Pitino, spoke on Herb Pope's decision to test the waters saying, "every kid wants to play in the NBA" and "I'm all for it, every kid wants to be a millionaire and if he can do it, I'm all for it." KW, also said he's looking forward to getting in the gym with Jeremy Hazell and recognizes that he's a special talent. Regarding the atmosphere that he will establish at Seton Hall, he referred to it as, "a fun style of basketball" and is excited to play in the, "first-class building" that is the Prudential Center. Check out the video.
Steve Politi reports on further advice from Rick Pitino. Except, in this instance, Rick was doling it out to Patrick Hobbs:
In three years, you are going to have one of the best young coaches in the game of basketball.
You mean we can't have one next year? Kidding. I'd be thrilled if he's regarded as one of the best young coaches in just three years time. It's realistic, he turned around a 2-win Iona program into a 21 win team in just three years, earning himself the MAAC COY award this year.
According to Brendan Prunty, at the moment, Herb Pope hasn't hired an agent:
Herb Pope, who gave the Pirates a low-post presence they desperately needed this season, announced he is entering the NBA Draft in June. Like teammate Jeff Robinson - who announced similar intentions last Thursday - Pope has not signed with an agent.
I guess you could say Pope gave both the Pirates and their opponents a, "low-post presence" this season. In all seriousness, I hope all three pass on hiring agents. Realistically, I'm hoping at least two of the three return and believe two will be back. Unfortunately, I think Herb's the odd-man out and will go through to the NBA Draft, while Hazell and JRob will return to South Orange. Side note, I used, "all-three," but it must be said that despite what's been thrown around on twitter and message boards, Hazell hasn't officially declared for the NBA Draft. Yes, it's expected that he'll join Pope and Robinson, but an official word hasn't come yet, which is why it hasn't been reported on Gonzo Ball.
Adam Zagoria tweeted this afternoon that Lincoln High coach, Tiny Morton, is a candidate for an assistant coaching position under Willard.
WSOU will be holding a special edition of Pirate Primetime, tomorrow night from 8-10PM, with quotes and reactions from the Willard/Donovan presser, which will be held, open to the public at 1PM tomorrow. Listen to Pirate Primetime, by tuning into 89.5FM, or for those out of coverage, point your browsers to: WSOU.net
Jeff Roberts of The-Record with a great-read on former Pirate Dan Calandrillo, his return to basketball and how his fear of heights saved his life:
Like the story of how he made it out of North Bergen, the youngest of 13 kids born to deaf parents, all crammed into a three-bedroom, fourth-floor walk-up.
Or how he became the 1982 Big East Player of the Year on a losing Seton Hall team. Or how being afraid of heights may have saved his life, keeping him out of the World Trade Center on 9/11.
And how much the fifth- and sixth-graders on his Holy Cross Church basketball team in Rumson mean to him - all 28 of them, because he won't cut anyone - and how their personal victories are his victories.
Great feature on Calandrillo, be sure to check it out.
Lastly, congratulations to Jerry Carino of Hoops Haven who welcomed a baby boy into the Carino household on Sunday. There's more important things in life than basketball, but even as one of them were being introduced, Carino couldn't restrain himself:
One of the delivery doctors was a West Virginia grad and justifiably stoked about the Eers' berth in the Final Four. So there we are talking DaSean Butler, Joe Mazzulla and the 1-3-1 zone in between her urging Mrs. Hoops Haven to push harder. Is this a great country or what?
Awesome story, Jerry's provided phenomenal work all season long. Now that the coaching search has ended, hopefully Jerry has a few minutes to relax with his new addition.