Updated: Aug 5
The Pirates have put themselves in a very difficult position after back to back disappointing losses to Georgetown and Butler. Seton Hall holds a 13-10 record on the season with a 10-7 record in Big East play to put them in fourth place in the conference standings. While some bracketologists like Joe Lunardi still have the Pirates as one of the "Last 4 Teams In" everyone around the SHU program knows there is work to be done and multiple games to be won. The Pirates conclude their regular season on Saturday night at St. John's. The Big East Tournament will start up next Wednesday, March 10th where Kevin Willard's ballclub will certainly have to win two games if not the whole thing.
Tonight however will be a special night for the Pirates program. For the first time in nearly a year since last years Senior Night loss to Villanova, fans will be allowed inside the Prudential Center to cheer on the Pirates. Although it will only be 10% (1,700 fans) its certainly a welcomed addition and a fitting one to send off the senior class of 2021. The four seniors Sandro Mamukelashvili, Myles Cale, Shavar Reynolds and grad transfer Bryce Aiken have all played a huge role for the Pirates during their respective tenures in South Orange.
For the group of three, (Mamu, Cale, Reynolds) that have been here since day one in 2017, they've witnessed it all. Two NCAA Tournaments appearances, three had there been a tourney last season. A 2020 regular season share of the Big East Title. An unbelievable upset victory over Kentucky at MSG in 2018 where Myles Cale drilled a game-winning three pointer. The group has also got to play with some incredible talent. Their freshmen season they got to take a back seat and learn from the best senior class in Seton Hall history that featured Angelo Delgado, Khadeen Carringotn and Desi Rodriguez. Of course we cannot forget Myles Powell who the 2021 senior class got to play with for three years.
On their final media pressor Tuesday afternoon, emotions were at an all-time high.
"I put my soul and heart into my development, and I put my soul and heart into listening to coach", the recent 1000 point scored Mamu said. "Being one of the top players in the conference was my dream coming in as a freshman. I used to look at the top players say to myself, 'One day I'll be the player who everyone talks about, and who everyone puts on top of the scouting report." It's safe to say Sandro has fulfilled that goal.
For Myles Cale it was all about motivation going forward, "We came in trying to leave a legacy and we're far from done." The Wilmington, Delaware native would fight to hold back tears when talking about his journey with Mamu and Shavar, "we came in together. We tried to do our best to leave our mark here, that's my guy. He's like a brother to me", Cale said.
Shavar Reynolds, the former walk-on, has probably made the most tremendous amounts of improvement during his tenure becoming a starter the majority of the season, averaging 7.7 points per game and 4.4 assist per game. As for the Harvard grad transfer Bryce Aiken whose dealt with numerous injuries in his lone year for Seton Hall the emotions were also overwhelming. "To be back here in New Jersey was a dream come true for me. As a kid I always dreamed of wearing Pirate Blue and representing Pirate nation. Even though I haven't been on the court that much, I've just been super, super thankful for the opportunity to come here."
The feel good stories will do no favors for the Pirates tonight though, as they welcome in a talented and well coached Connecticut Huskies team with a 12-6 record sitting at third place in the Big East Conference. The Huskies led by James Bouknight (20.5 ppg) and NJ native R.J. Cole (12.8 ppg) are also right on the NCAA Tournament bubble and looking for revenge on the Pirates after their 80-73 loss to Seton Hall back on February 6th in Storrs.
Tipoff is at 6:30 p.m on FoxSports1 in a crucial Big East Battle. UConn enters as -1.5 favorites.