One of the question marks for Seton Hall head coach Kevin Willard this offseason was whether or not he would have the services of sophomore guard Tom Maayan. Maayan, a native of Israel, was thought to be done as a Pirate due to his need to serve the three-year stint in the military that’s required of all Israeli citizens (women are required to serve two years).
But Seton Hall, most notably former director of basketball operations Stephen Sauers (now the top assistant at Cal State Riverside), continued to fight with the hope that Maayan would be allowed to return to the program. That hope has become a reality, with the Israeli Defense Forces granting Maayan a 90-day furlough.
Maayan returns to the States today according to Jerry Carino of Gannett New Jersey, and the expectation is that the furlough will eventually be extended so the guard can finish his college career before having to serve. Maayan’s uncle, David Fuchs, was grateful for the effort Seton Hall put in on his nephew’s behalf.
“I’m telling you from my heart — I am a Jewish Israeli, Seton Hall is a Catholic university in America, and what they did for us, I don’t have words,” Fuchs said via phone Wednesday. “They took a broken child and they gave him a chance. From now until the end of my presence on Earth, I can’t say how much I appreciate what they did.”
Maayan was detained by the IDF for missing the date he was supposed to report for duty, ultimately serving in northern Israel. But no one gave up on the possibility of him returning to Seton Hall, regardless of how grim the outlook was. The end result is the return of a player who won’t have as much on his plate in 2013-14.
Maayan, pressed into playing the majority of his minutes at point guard due to the Pirates’ lack of options at the position, averaged 3.1 assists and 2.8 turnovers per game as a freshman and struggled offensively in the role. However Seton Hall has options at the point this season, with Texas transfer Sterling Gibbs eligible after having to sit out the 2012-13 season per NCAA transfer rules and freshman Jaren Sina having the ability to handle some minutes on the ball as well.
There will be more competition for minutes on the perimeter but this development will likely benefit Maayan (and Seton Hall) in the end.
GAME OF THE NIGHT: Syracuse vs. No. 18 UConn, 3:30 p.m.
For the first time since the Orange departed the Big East, the two former rivals will square off. Today’s battle will take place at the Battle 4 Atlantis, as the Orange knocked off Charlotte yesterday and the Huskies dispatched Michigan. To get ready for this battle, I’d suggest ready through the conversation @NoEscalators had with himself last night.
THIS ONE’S GOOD, TOO: No. 25 Texas A&M vs. No. 10 Gonzaga, 1:00 p.m.
The other semifinal in the Battle 4 Atlantis could end up being just as good, as the Aggies — who might be the second best team in the SEC — square off with a Gonzaga team that has one of the best front lines in the country. This will be a good test to figure out just how good both of these teams are.
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR
1. No. 20 Wichita State vs. USC, 2:00 p.m.: The Shockers will be without Fred VanVleet for this event. It will also be a chance for us to gauge just how good this 4-0 USC team is.
2. No. 23 Xavier vs. Alabama, 12:00 p.m: The Musketeers should have no problems dispatching Alabama.
3. No. 8 Villanova vs. Stanford, 4:30 p.m.: The Wildcats are, once again, as good as any team in the country. Josh Hart might be the nation’s most underrated star.
4. No. 14 Cal vs. San Diego State, 12:00 a.m.: Tyrone Wallace and company have been awesome this season. They get their first real test of the season tonight.
5. Providence vs. Evansville, 7:00 p.m.: Evansville is one of the nation’s best mid-majors, good enough to give the likes of Wichita State and Northern Iowa a fight in the Missouri Valley. And Providence? They got a kid named Kris Dunn. Heard of him?
THE REST OF THE TOP 25
- No. 3 Michigan State vs. Boston College, 6:30 p.m.
- No. 11 Arizona vs. Santa Clara, 11:30 p.m.
- No. 17 Notre Dame vs. Monmouth, 6:30 p.m.
No. 2 Maryland finally found their rhythm on Wednesday night, blowing out a good Rhode Island team, 86-63, in the finals of the Cancun Challenge.
Melo Trimble and Rasheed Sulaimon combined for 34 points and eight assists on 13-for-14 shooting and Robert Carter added 15 points, nine boards, three assists and three blocks. Peak Maryland, which is what we saw tonight, is really dangerous.
But Peak Maryland wasn’t the story after the game, as tempers flared in the waning minutes.
It started when Maryland coach Mark Turgeon called a timeout with less than two minutes remaining. Jake Layman had just hit a three to put Maryland up by 24 points and Turgeon wanted to get his walk-ons in the game. Hurley said to the Maryland bench, “We’ll see you again, boy,” according to Inside Maryland Sports, which prompted this reaction from Turgeon:
After the game, the two teams had to be separated in layup lines. According to reports from IMS and from the Baltimore Sun, Hurley was cursing at Maryland players as he was shaking their hands after the game. According Doug Gottlieb, who called the game for CBS Sports Network, Trimble said that the Rhode Island team wanted to “fight us”: