City Sports Report

Seton Hall making room for themselves in a resurgent Big East

Sterling Gibbs

Seton Hall made an early statement on New Year’s Eve with a 78-67 win over 15th ranked St. John’s at Prudential Center in the Big East opener for both teams.

The Pirates 11-2 start to the season doesn’t appear to be a fluke, with the Big East on the rise, what’s become evident in recent weeks is that they’re for real.

While it has yet to show in the national rankings, Seton Hall is beginning to gain attention with their play. However Pirates head coach Kevin Willard doesn’t appear to be overly-concerned about that.

“If we get ranked, great,” said Willard, after the game. “If we don’t, we have to continue to work hard and get better.”

The Pirates are not just getting better, they are maturing with every game. This is a predominantly young team with a talented crop of freshmen and sophomores helping put Seton Hall back on the map. Angel Delgado, Desi Rodriguez, Jaren Sina, and Khadeen Carrington all made key contributions in the win over St. John’s. They also helped offset the loss of freshman standout Isaiah Whitehead, still out with a stress fracture.

This young corp has complimented nicely Seton Hall’s upper classmen, specifically junior guard Sterling Gibbs and senior forward Brandon Mobley. Gibbs was outstanding against St. John’s, finishing with 25 points, 8 assists, and zero turnovers. It was as impressive a performance as I’ve seen up close in recent memory, enough to even wow Red Storm head coach Steve Lavin.

“That was as close to a masterpiece for a leader and for a point guard as you can have,” Lavin said. “He exhibited great poise. He was in the zone.”

With Whitehead in the lineup, I can’t help wonder how much more of a difference it would have made on the scoreboard against St. John’s. However, the Pirates showed their depth in the backcourt, growing confidence and overall energy are legitimate factors for them in this year’s Big East.

The Big East showed the nation what they’re made of this season with impressive non-conference play up and down the board. While Villanova, St. John’s, and Georgetown were already expected to be in the conversation for March, the rest of the conference, specifically Providence and Xavier, has stepped up considerably from where it was a year ago.

The Pirates knocked off the 15th ranked Red Storm to open league play, they’ll now get a chance at making an even bigger statement against 6th ranked Villanova. They may not be thinking about national rankings now, however that could all change after this next game.

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