Team: Seton Hall Pirates
2015-16 Record: 25-9, 12-6 in the Big East
2015-16 Big East Finish: Third
Final 2015-16 KenPom Ranking: #22
Key Departures: Isaiah Whitehead (18.2 points, 3.6 rebounds, 5.1 assists); Derrick Gordon (8.0 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1.6 assists)
Key Returners: Khadeen Carrington (14.1 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.5 assists); Desi Rodriguez (12.4 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.4 assists); Angel Delgado (9.9 points, 9.3 rebounds, 1.0 assists); Ismael Sanogo (5.0 points, 7.2 rebounds, 1.3 assists)
Key Additions: Myles Powell (6’1”, 200 lb. point guard, 247 Sports Composite #82); Eron Gordon (6’2”, 170 lb shooting guard, 247 Sports Composite #135)
Coach: Kevin Willard, in his seventh season (152-138 overall, 107-89 at Seton Hall)
Outlook: Shoutout to Kevin Willard, who got his team to the NCAA tournament for the first time in his sixth season. In fact, it was the first time that the Pirates had finished over .500 in Big East play with Willard at the helm, and just the second time that they had won 20 games.
That might not sound all that great, and to be honest, it’s probably not. But in the 17 (seventeen!) seasons previous to Willard’s arrival, Seton Hall had won 20 games in a season on two different occasions, and he’s done it twice in six years. So shoutout to him.
The question becomes whether or not this can be sustainable. With Isaiah Whitehead leaving for the NBA Draft (ended up with the Nets with the #12 pick in the second round), Seton Hall is going to have to find 1) a new leading scorer and 2) a new point guard. [Excuse me, I need to finish this helping of crow. Mmmmm, delicious.] After a highly heralded freshman campaign that 1) endured a mid-season injury and 2) ended badly for the team after he returned (14-6 before the return, 2-9 down the stretch), Whitehead was RIDICULOUS for Seton Hall in 2015-16. In addition to the stats listed above (2nd in the BE in scoring, 3rd in assists), Whitehead was a perfectly competent three-point shooter (37%) while leading SHU in attempts, and he finished with a top 50 assist rate on the national level. He was really great!
The good news for Seton Hall when it comes to continuing this run is that they had the eighth best defensive efficiency in the country last season, and more specifically, they were really good on defense for reasons that weren’t Isaiah Whitehead. Sure, he helped, but amongst the dudes who are returning, the Pirates had two guys who were top 200 in steal rate as well as two guys who were top 500 in block rate. Ismael Sanogo is sneaky important to Seton Hall, as he was one of the guys in both of those categories.