Few college basketball players have bigger shoes this season than Seton Hall’s Myles Powell. Powell was an All-American First Team a year ago and has done pretty much anything for the Pirates for the past four years. 9 goalscorer in the history of the Great East. On Friday, life begins without him for Kevin Willard’s program.
Seton Hall’s season was supposed to start with a Yum Center game against Winthrop on Wednesday, but the Pirates had to pause for two weeks after a positive Covid test from their program earlier this month. This break also led to the cancellation of the season opener. Seton Hall should play a big game against No.. 2 Baylor on Sunday but that game was canceled earlier this week after Bears head coach Scott Drew tested positive. The SHU officially resumed all team activities on Tuesday.
Willard had a legitimate national title contender a season ago, and while that high bar may not be reached in 2020-21, he should nonetheless build a roster that is right there in the top 4-5 of the ever-competitive Big east.
Despite the loss of Powell, double-digit goalscorer Quincy McKnight, Big East Defensive Player of the Year Romaro Gill and others who graduated, Seton Hall is still giving 44 percent of his hits, 63 percent of his rebound and 50 percent his three hits back. Notes from last season’s Big East championship team.
Sandro Mamukelashvili, who leads the pirates’ indictment this season, is the 6-11 striker who should pose a double threat every time he speaks. The highly skilled left big man is going to be an extremely big job for the Louisville defenders. He averaged 12 points and six boards a year ago but was at his best on the track. In Seton Hall’s last eight games, Mamukelashvili averaged 15. 1 point and 7. 8 rebounds per game when shooting 57 percent from the field and 50 percent from three.
Two other well-known names are also in South Orange: the wings Myles Cale and Jared Rhoden. While Rhoden produced solid averages of 9. 1 point and 6. 4 rebounds per game last season, the bigger impact he and Cale have comes on the defensive end of the floor. As good as Powell was last year, Seton Hall was actually a much better defensive team when he sat on the bench with people like Cale and Rhoden laying on the floor together. For David Johnson and Samuell Williamson, they will be difficult tasks. Rhoden in particular will test who will put him on the defensive. His score should jump to a place where he’ll get All-Big East deliberations later this year.
How well the season at Seton Hall ultimately goes will largely depend on the answer to how healthy and effective Bryce Aiken’s transfer to Harvard can be. Aiken is a former top 100 recruit averaging 22. 2 points per game two years ago at Harvard and who passed the 30-point mark seven times in his college career. A foot injury ended his 2019-20 season prematurely with the Crimson, and a knee injury forced him to miss most of the summer as well as the first few weeks of training at Seton Hall. He is expected to be ready for Friday’s game.
If for any reason Aiken is unable to complete the general duties, the assignment will be referred to Senior Shavar Reynolds. Reynolds, a former walk-on, can hit the outside shot when he’s alone, but his mentality is more pass-first-point guard than what pirate fans of Powell have seen or will see of Aiken. Defensively, he is a dog and he will enjoy the opportunity to stop Carlik Jones from doing this thing.
Canisius grad transfer Takal Molson is another guy to watch. He was one of the MAAC’s top scorers during his time at the conference, but in large part due to the lack of a supporting cast, he was not overly efficient. His efficiency should be improved with more talent around him, but how Molson adapts to life without getting options A, B, and C will be fascinating.
Another name Louisville fans might recognize is Ike Obiagu, a 7’2 center that came on off after two seasons in the state of Florida. Obiagu never made much of an impact at FSU, largely because he was behind the 55 other 7-foot Game of Thrones characters that Leonard Hamilton is kind of convinced will come to Tallahassee.
In summary, Powell, Gill, and McKnight were all spectacular, but there is more than enough return and entry for Willard to bring this team back to the NCAA and compete with the best teams in the Great East. Stylistically, I wouldn’t expect them to look any different from them. They will invade you defensively, they will quicken the pace when the situation calls for it, and they will try to outsmart you for every second of every 40 minute game. Defensively, they want to guide you into their shot blockers in the lane and force you to take an extremely low percentage shot on every half-court possession.
– Louisville won 56 straight home games in November, a streak that went up to a loss to Vanderbilt on Jan.. November 1972. The cards are in November 43-0 in the Yum Center.
—Louisville has won 82 of its last 86 non-conference games at the KFC Yum Center, a mark that spans the past 10 seasons.
—Seton Hall head coach Kevin Willard was U of L’s assistant for six years (2001-07). The Cardinals were with cards 142-58 for Willard’s six years and advanced to the 2005 Final Four. He led Louisville to a 64-48 win over Houston (1-28-04) at Freedom Hall when Rick Pitino took a brief medical vacation
—Louisville plays between 47 and 15 against former assistant coaches to the Cardinal who are now head coaches. That record includes a 7-1 mark against Seton Hall head coach Kevin Willard.
—Louisville players are wearing the National Unity Mark on the front of their uniforms this season to support an initiative by the NCAA Division I StudentAthlete Advisory Committee, which also launched a National Unity Pledge. In addition, « UNITY » is shown in the font under the player numbers on the white uniforms of U of L.
– About 3. 000 fans can take part in the Friday game. All seating is limited to the lower bowl and premium seating areas.
– At the KFC Yum Center, Louisville has an overall record of 155-25 and a 90-6 mark against non-conference opponents. The cards have won 46 of their last 49 home games against opponents outside the conference.
– Louisville has set a record 51-6 in November for the past nine years, winning 31 of its last 35 games that month.
– Louisville was 18-0 last season when he scored at least 71 points and only 6-7 when he didn’t. The cards scored 79 points in Wednesday’s season opener win against Evansville.
– Louisville is one of only four schools to have won 20 or more games on the court in each of the last 18 seasons. Gonzaga, Duke, and Kansas are the other.
Seton Hall Pirate Men’s Basketball, Louisville, Big East Conference, College Basketball
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