For the first time since 2005-06, Seton Hall knocked off ranked opponents in consecutive games when it upset No. 6 Villanova at Prudential Center yesterday, just three days after edging No. 15 St. John’s. A win of firsts, Seton Hall hadn’t won consecutive games over Villanova since the 2002-04 seasons and hadn’t started 2-0 in the Big East since the 1999-00 campaign under Tommy Amaker.
This was accomplished without Isaiah Whitehead, without the national spotlight's gaze, and largely without the help of the officials.
Come Monday afternoon, one of those things will change, and it’s not the status of Seton Hall’s star freshman guard, nor will the officials will have a say in the matter.
Kevin Willard and his players, this team, will now have the proverbial target on their backs when a national ranking is slapped next to their school’s name tomorrow for the first time since an ever-so-brief showing in the top 25 during the 2011-12 campaign. Before 2012, a ranking had failed to find a way to associate with a Seton Hall team since January of 2001.
We're now in territory that has only come once not every few seasons, but every few coaching changes in South Orange. The last time Seton Hall started a Big East season 3-0, something they’ll have a chance to do on Wednesday against Xavier, was 1992-93 under P.J. Carlesimo. The Hall went 28-7 and won the Big East Tournament that season. And to think that all Seton Hall fans could realistically ask for coming into this one was a shot at the NCAA tournament.
Word of advice: At this rate, you may need to alter your expectations.
Seton Hall has won aesthetically pleasing games like they did against St. John’s, have definitively proven their worth against droves of lesser opponents, and have nicked gritty games against George Washington and Villanova. If Willard’s team gets a handle on winning on the road (losses at Wichita State and Georgia) to accompany the ability to beat just about anyone at Prudential Center, watch out. Oh yeah, let's not forget that Isaiah Whitehead kid will be back sooner or later pending a January 12th MRI.
For now, enjoy a winning team and all the exhilarating, surprising, and pleasing quirks that come with one like Khadeen Carrington’s tough-as-nails performance yesterday or Angel Delgado's motor that had him literally fighting Director of Sports Medicine Tony Testa to stay in the team's huddle after taking a shot to the eye that had him lying in front of the Seton Hall student section.
But also be sure to take some time to reflect on and bask in what we may be witnessing here: The opening pages of a new glorious chapter in the Seton Hall basketball saga.
Is the Hall back?