Game preview: Seton Hall battles Stony Brook in Walsh GymnasiumDate: November 8, 2019
By: Justin Morris
Seton Hall men’s basketball’s head coach Kevin Willard will be back on the sidelines to coach his first official game of the season Saturday when American East opponent Stony Brook rolls into town at 2:30 p.m. in Walsh Gymnasium.
He was forced to sit out of the Pirates’ last two matchups for a tampering violation levied on him by the NCAA, and while both were played against outmatched opponents (including Division-III Misericordia), they were able to handle them with ease.
The violation involved former Syracuse transfer Taurean Thompson, who, a key cog in last year’s rotation, sat out of Tuesday night’s game. Willard’s absence undoubtedly left a big hole on the Pirate bench, but forwards and centers’ coach Grant Billmeier was superb in his place. He deserves the utmost amount of credit for his coaching performance, especially in doing so on short notice. They just missed tripling Misericordia’s score by two points in a stifling defensive performance in Billmeier’s debut, obliterating them 112-38.
That game was just an exhibition, though, and some of Misericordia’s players represented their JV team. A few first-half blunders did not come as a surprise against fellow Division-I foe Wagner, and at one-point, the team’s shooting percentages and three-point numbers were neck in neck. What was likely a fiery halftime speech from Billmeier though, who was not hesitant to let referees know how he was feeling during the game, turned the tide in the second half, and The Hall stretched their lead to over 30 as they topped 100 points in both wins.
Myles Powell was the leading scorer as usual in all three of their outings thus far, and put up his best scoring performance of the season against Wagner, dropping 27 points on 7/13 from the field and 4/9 from the three point line, including a nearly impossible and-one off a hard foul. These types of outbursts from Powell are expected, and it’s usually a matter of time before he gets going.
Having Willard back will only elevate his scoring though, as the chemistry they’ve developed through Powell’s years, which includes Team USA stints at the Pan American games in Peru this summer, makes them a scary duo. Powell’s play-calling expects to increase Saturday, as Willard’s presence will create many more opportunities for him to get involved.
Florida State transfer Ike Obiagu will also have a large role inside; his multiple blocked shots were crucial momentum shifters vs. Wagner, and freshman Tyrese Samuel will be needed, as he led them in rebounds with six. Jared Rhoden (12) and Myles Cale (six) will be key on the scoring end as well.
Stony Brook’s Seawolves will come into South Orange at 0-1. Their opener was an overtime thriller against Yale, but a late-game comeback push was unable to surmount Yale’s lead in the closing minutes. Newark junior Elijah Olaniyi paced their scoring with 19, and will likely be their first option Saturday, while sophomore Miles Latimer poured in 16, with two other Wolves posting double figures in scoring.
The matchup against Stony Brook will be the last the Pirates play before the they head over to “The Rock”, the Prudential Center, in nearby Newark, NJ. The game will tip off at 2:30 p.m., and will be broadcasted on 89.5 FM. On the call for the game are Liam Plate and Ronny Castaneda. Handling pregame coverage starting at 2:15 p.m., will be Jose Feliciano and Wilnir Louis.
Justin Morris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.