Following the graduation of senior centers Eugene Teague and Aaron Geramipoor and the departure of graduated redshirt junior Patrik Auda to Poland for pro ball with Polfarmex Kutno, Seton Hall is in desperate search for guys who can man the interior.
Returning from last year's roster is senior Brandon Mobley, a stretch 'four' that has done most of his damage to teams by pulling his defender to the perimeter. Brandon told media this morning that he has added 20 pounds to his frame in the off-season and targeted his body as a focal point in preparing for the season. "I perfected my body a lot this summer, I added on 20 pounds to my body, so now I can accept the contact more during the season a bit more without feeling sore," said Mobley at Big East Media Day this morning. "My skill-set is still there, but I really wanted to focus on my body."
Further, Mobley added that he's turned a corner after struggling with a shoulder injury early in his career which appeared to affect his outside shooting last season. "I'm 100-percent. My body's great, my conditioning is great ... I'm hungry, my shoulder is fine, everything is fine, I just want to get out there and lead my team."
Though Mobley didn't hint at any Xs and Os changes in his game, Kevin Willard intends on pushing his senior forward further into the interior after the departure of guys like Teague and Geramipoor. "I think Brandon is going to have to post up a little bit more, I think he's going to have to get inside. He's got to be a post presence, he has that ability. Because Eugene has been down low the last for the last two years, he kinda clogged up that area, you couldn't really space Eugene out, I think Brandon's going to have more opportunities now in the post because the lane is going to be a little bit more open."
Joining Mobley from last year's roster is a wildcard in 6-foot-9 redshirt freshman Rashed Anthony, who projects as the first forward off the bench for the Hall after sitting out last season. While Mobley will look to bring an all-around forward skill set to the table and Angel Delgado will rebound and defend, Rashed may surprise some fans in ability and minutes played due to the experience he picked up last season in practice. "Rashed has the advantage of being able to practice last year," explained teammate Brandon Mobley. "He pretty much knows how the college practice guys, a lot of these guys coming in from high school that never practiced before dont know how intense college practices are."
The third forward who is likely to see heavy minutes is highly-rated freshman Angel Delgado, a rebounding extraordinaire that will contribute heavily on defense, the glass, and with his athleticism rather than a polished post game. Outside of 7-foot Northwestern transfer Chier Ajou, who isn't eligible until December, Seton Hall doesn't have a ton of Teague-like power on the block, but a decent amount of athleticism and shiftiness.
"We're not big and bulky, but we're quick and athletic," diagnosed Kevin Willard. "It gives us a chance to switch pick and rolls defensively, switch screens, play differently, play faster, be able to press a little better than we have. We'll be a much different defensive team down low because of who we have."
On that note, Willard added that general defensive schemes will change due to added depth both at forward and guard. "We'll play much more man-to-man, we'll do a lot more things we couldn't due trying to protect some guys [from foul trouble]. We tried to protect Eugene, that's why we played so much zone. We tried to protect Fuquan a little because of foul trouble. This year with our depth I think we can be a little more aggressive ... This year we can handle someone getting into foul trouble a little bit more."
As for the overall outlook on forward depth, Willard narrowed it down to three guys that will see the bulk of minutes, though it sounds like a surprise freshman may see some important minutes after impressing during the off-season and small forward Desi Rodriguez can see time at the four in a very small lineup.
"You look at Desi Rodriguez, who's only 6-5 but he's a matchup nightmare for teams, he's lefty, he's strong, he can go off the dribble, he can create," described Willard. "The inside guys are going to have a unique ability to play and get easier buckets than they would have in the past. They're going to play at times with four guards who can all create off the dribble, who can all get them shots.
"It won't be by committee because guys like Angel, Rashed, and Brandon are going to have a very heavy load. Ish [Sanogo] has been an unbelievable surprise, he's almost 6-8 now, he's athletic. In a scrimmage the other day he had nine rebounds in 20 minutes. It's just trying to get his body up to where he can handle the physicality. When you're playing four guards and a big guy or three guards and two forwards it gives us unique opportunities to play different ways."
Willard added that Seton Hall's last forward, freshman Mike Nzei, will not play this season for the Pirates. When asked for a clarification, Willard said that Nzei is a partial qualifier and that there is currently an appeal out to the NCAA, though it didn't sound hopeful that he would suit up this year.
Look for a follow up story tomorrow night on Seton Hall's outlook at the guard position after adding freshmen Isaiah Whitehead and Khadeen Carrington.