Seton Hall's Pirate Blue Event in NYC: Quotes from Pat Lyons and Kevin Willard

Kevin Willard looking Rick Pitino-esque fly at the Young Alumni event last night in NYC. (Photo credit: Nicole DeBiase)

Last night, Pirate Blue hosted a young alumni happy hour event in the Lower East Side of Manhattan at the very swanky Gallery Bar, and it was a tremendous success. I had the opportunity to meet a number of new supporters, mingle with familiar friends, and speak with Athletic Director Pat Lyons and Head Coaches Kevin Willard and Anne Donovan. Overall, outstanding job by Pirate Blue and the Director, Bryan Felt, in particular. In fact, there was even live music by musician extraordinaire Jon Barbieri "Rheyne" http://www.youtube.com/user/RheyneMusic?blend=7&ob=5 , also an alumnus.

The very approachable Jerry Walker was also there in support of his alma mater as well as his charity,"Team Walker" in the form of a toy drive. If you haven't had the chance to say hello to Jerry, I highly advise it, as he is one of the most genuine guys you'll meet. And now, after almost 19 years, Walker is able to laugh(ish) at the irony of having the son of Coach Ralph Willard (the same coach who, at Western Kentucky, knocked his Pirates out of the NCAA Tournament in 1993) in the drivers seat of his alma mater (remember, I said "ish").

At the risk of sounding terribly cliché, I not sure I can adequately convey what breaths of fresh air Pat Lyons and Head Coaches Kevin Willard and Anne Donovan have infused into the Seton Hall Basketball program. I have no interest in bashing, or even writing about, previous coaches and styles; but what I will say is that I truly believe our program is headed in the right direction with the aforementioned individuals at the helm.

I spoke, at length, with Pat Lyons who graciously invited me to a practice; in fact, he seemed downright giddy about it. He explained that through six games we "haven't seen even close to what our freshman can do. Sure, we are 5-1, but they haven't shown the fans nearly what they can do. I can't wait for you to see them in practice." Of course, there must be an allowance for the adjustment that, invariably, first year student-athletes go through, but Lyons was very direct in saying that what I will see in practice will, "astound" me. My response was simple, "Um; twist my arm? Let’s put it on the calendar." Lyons went on to describe the focus and dedication this team has displayed, and that they've really adopted the same drive and intensity of their Coach.

Coach Willard, however, was a little less forthcoming in divulging his thoughts about the team. Uh, look (Obama), I'm not one to shy away from 1am trips to Atlantic City for a fix of no limit hold'em, but I certainly wouldn't want to play poker at Kevin Willard's table. He plays his cards close to his chest while also engaging you in meaningful conversation; I admire and respect that - it's an art. I've spoken recently with a few friends about his "even keel" and "quiet intensity" and that really rings true when speaking with him. I asked Coach Willard if there was one thing he'd like to communicate to the Seton Hall fan base and he said, in a very thoughtful and adroit way, "Support. Come out to games, come out to events, just get involved in any way you can." Succinct yet comprehensive words that stuck with me through the night.

Finally, Seton Hall collides with SEC member Auburn (4-0) this Friday at 9pm at the ROCK. While Auburn boasts a spotless record thus far, their opponents have a combined 4-16 record on the year (yikes!). Seton Hall will be, by far, the most talented team to face the Tigers this year so this should really be a fun match up. This is also the first road game for the Tigers, so with a large fan turnout, Seton Hall really has an opportunity to create a loud environment worthy of a true 6th man!

See you Friday, and as always, Hazard Zet Forward!

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