Seton Hall's all time assists leader (681) and current Associate Head Coach, Shaheen Holloway, was kind enough to spend some time with me discussing all things Seton Hall Basketball. Needless to say, I was thrilled to have had the opportunity to speak with the former standout and pick his brain about the upcoming season. So, let's get right to it...
First of all, congratulations on your recent induction into Seton Hall's Hall of Fame. What does that distinction mean to you?
It's a tremendous accomplishment. Coming to Seton Hall for the first time, walking through the halls and seeing plaques on the wall of great former athletes, it was amazing. There was a lot of talent that came through this school over the years and when Bryan (Felt) told me that I had been nominated, it was just unbelievable. I give Pirate Blue and everyone on that staff a lot of credit because they have spent a lot of time and have done things right. It really means a lot to me.
By all accounts, this is a young team with transfer Kyle Smyth being the lone senior. Do you see this as a concern or an opportunity?
You know, the young guys like Aaron Cosby, Brandon Mobley and Haralds Karlis, they got lot of playing time last year. Then, you bring a couple experienced transfers in like Brian Oliver and Eugene Teague, I think we have the makings of a pretty good team. We have all the pieces; we have shooters, slashers, and we finally have a big post presence inside, so I think this is a great opportunity. I think a lot of our guys are hungry too, they have chips on their shoulders and want to prove people wrong. Take Fuquan Edwin for example, when we first got the job, we heard that Fuquan wasn't a passionate player, that he wasn't a good kid. He really took that to heart and was unbelievable for us last year. We also have no seniors (aside from Smyth), so we can keep this group together for a few years which is always good in college basketball.
Have there been any developments on Sterling Gibbs' hardship waiver? When do you anticipate an answer?
Well, it's in their hands right now (NCAA review committee). We really have no idea what's going to happen. When we find out, you guys will find out.
If Gibbs isn't granted the waiver, who should Seton Hall fans anticipate seeing run the point?
It's going to be point guard by committee. We got the kid Tommy (Maayan) who is a very, very good point guard. He's a pass first guard. I know he's coming off the knee injury, but as of right now, he's doing everything that we're doing but without contact. Freddy Wilson has gotten better. Aaron Cosby might play some point. The good thing is that we have three or four different guys who can play that position. So, to answer your question, it's going to be by committee. Whoever is playing well on that particular night.
I was particularly impressed with Brandon Mobley last year, especially since he missed roughly 25% of his freshman season due to injury. Do you believe that he, along with Eugene Teague et al. can provide a dominant presence inside and one that Seton Hall has lacked for many years?
Yeah, I think so. Brandon is more finesse and Gene is just a beast down low. Kevin Johnson is looking good right now. Patrick and Aaron are looking good too, so we have some size down there that we didn't have our first two years. Eugene and Kevin are our big guys who are really going to bang down in the post. This team has a lot of depth at the forward positions.
If you had to chose one player as your sleeper on the team this year, who would it be?
It's really hard to say. I think all the guys got a lot better from last year. I think one of the transfers could definitely be a sleeper with Brian, Eugene, maybe even Kyle Smyth so I would probably say it's between one of those three guys.
What should Pirate fans expect to see from the team this year?
This team is going to play hard. The one thing that we can always control is our defence. Our defense in the past has kept us in games, and it's not been good, it's been great. This year, we really have guys that can make some shots so it's going to be very interesting to see who is going to emerge as the leader of the team. You know, we think it'll be Fuquan but each night we could have different guys stepping up and making big plays.
You seem to still be in game shape; do you lace em up and show the guys what the former McDonald's All American MVP still has in the tank?
I try to a little bit now. You know what, our first year here we didn't have a full roster, so I practiced a lot but last year I didn't play as much. I do try to stay in shape and get out there a little bit. It was actually exciting last year to have Jordan there every day. Jordan thought he was pretty good, you know (laughs), so I had to show him a few things, you know?
Jordan Theodore began to really developed into an elite point guard in the Big East when Coach Willard took over the program two years ago. Given that both you and Coach Willard were point guards in the BE, and you were certainly a standout, has that helped with recruiting elite guards?
Well first of all, we really need to give all the credit to Jordan. He's a gym rat and the kid works as hard as anyone I know. He comes in early, he watches film, he puts up extra shots. He's the first one in the gym and the last one to leave. Last year, he and I got to games three hours early to work on things. To answer your question though, I think we have a tremendous benefit at Seton Hall because both Coach Willard and I were point guards in the Big East. There are things we do to develop guards. You could see this development with Scott Machado at Iona and also with Jordan Theodore here, so yes, I think now a lot of point guards are really interested in coming here.
Seton Hall's out of conference schedule was recently released. What are your thoughts about the schedule, and do you think it will adequately prepare the team for the grind that is the Big East?
You know what, last year we had a tremendous non conference schedule. The Big East is a hard conference and it's difficult to play both a very difficult out of conference and conference schedule. I think the out of conference schedule we have this year is pretty good. In college basketball, there are no weak teams. As you know last year, our first game, we almost lost to St. Francis at home so you really can't take any team for granted. We're also playing at LSU and at Wake Forest plus the tournament in Connecticut so there really are a lot of quality teams we're going to play outside of the Big East.
What was your favorite moment as a Pirate?
Oh man, that's tough. I think I have three which I spoke about at the Hall of Fame dinner. The day that I announced coming to Seton Hall, it was on the MSG Network and we had a camera feed and there was so much energy, I had a chance to see the reaction of all the fans it was unbelievable, just unbelievable. I think also hitting the game winning shot against Oregon, and then finally for me to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. I think those three moments were tremendous for me. It's hard for me to pick just one.
I'd like to again thank Shaheen for being so gracious with his time for this interview. It's virtually impossible to not get excited about the state of Seton Hall Basketball after spending time talking with him.
As always, HAZARD ZET FORWARD!