Seton Hall hosts Division II Caldwell College tomorrow in an exhibition in what will be the first look at a band of new Pirates under Kevin Willard. Set to tip at noon in Walsh Gym on Seton Hall's South Orange, New Jersey campus, the game won't be on TV or the Pirate Sports Network, but can be heard on the Hall's radio network, 89.5 FM WSOU. We will be covering the game from upon the stage at Walsh and will provide a little bit of extra Twitter play-by-play for those not able to watch in person or listen on the radio.
On a recruiting note, all three weekend visitors are expected to be at the game.
Caldwell visited Walsh last season for an exhibition and led 18-17 late in the first half before Seton Hall's offense partially emerged from their slumber during the second half en route to a 67-49 win. The Hall played without Fuquan Edwin, but Caldwell was also playing their second exhibition in as many days. Junior guard Dawan Lighty (11 pts), senior forward Michael Balkovic (4 pts, 6 rebs), and senior guard Kevin Walker (3 pts) are the returning starters from that game a year ago. Balkovic has earned preseason First Team All-Met (D-II) honors after averaging 15.4 ppg and 8.8 rpg last season and will be Caldwell's main threat alongside Lighty.
Here is Caldwell's brief preview of the exhibition.
Three things to watch (or listen) for:
Although Seton Hall struggled to separate themselves from Caldwell last year, there will be several things to look for tomorrow besides box score stats.
How will Seton Hall's guard-heavy offense look? Isaiah Whitehead will likely start alongside Sterling Gibbs and Jaren Sina tomorrow, a precursor of a three guard lineup we will see for much of the season. All three guys are multi-faceted and have the skillsets to work within such an offense, but how well will Kevin Willard's setup come together on the court tomorrow? Everything is all rosey on paper and in interviews, let's see how these three guys play in a backcourt we haven't seen under Willard. One related theme here is tempo and how it is dictated both by the players and by the head coach.
Forward play. It's time to see what new guys like Rashed Anthony, Angel Delgado, and Ismael Sanogo bring to the table at the four and five spots. Caldwell won't be the best barometer, but it sounds like Michael Balkovic is formidable opposition in the paint for a D-II school and I wouldn't be surprised if he gave the young guys a little bit of trouble early on. With Caldwell's size in mind, we'll probably get a look at Desi Rodriguez playing the four at some point.
It will be interesting to see how Kevin Willard uses each of his new forwards in a different offense this year. Willard said Delgado has surprised him in offensively, but doesn't think Rashed Anthony's role will stray outside of defending centers, rebounding, and setting good screens. Ish Sanogo brings a combo forward's game to the paint area, but probably won't be relied upon for many points, which means we may see someone like Desi Rodriguez as one of the bigger scorers of the new guys. It's also important not to forget Brandon Mobley, who the Hall will definitely need on both ends of the court if they are to take a leap to the next level. A fast start tomorrow would work well for his confidence.
How well would this team do in Walter White's class? Chemistry. A lot of the preseason talk has been about the chemistry that not only the freshmen but the returning players have within the team. But what good does that do if it doesn't manifest itself on the court? We saw a lot of disjointed offensive looks and scoring droughts last campaign, which arguably could have been attributed to lack of team cohesion that includes a players-to-coach bond. The shots don't necessarily have to fall tomorrow, but ball movement, meaningful ball screens, and a look of purpose on the offensive end are solid indicators of a team working together and dedicated to a system and each other.