Kevin Willard

Seton Hall will face more non-conference challenges in 2014-15

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During the 2013-14 season, Seton Hall and head coach Kevin Willard really didn’t face too many difficult non-conference opponents. The Pirates were 9-4 during the non-conference portion of the schedule last season but lost to both teams, Mercer and Oklahoma, that reached the 2014 NCAA Tournament out of those 13 games.

Seton Hall eventually struggled to a 6-12 record in Big East play before making an unlikely run to the semifinals of the conference tournament to finish the year at 17-17.

But this season, with experienced pieces like Sterling Gibbs and Jaren Sina returning along with a highly-touted recruiting class, Willard’s team will be tested quite a bit in the early part of the season.

According to a release from the school, Seton Hall will have some tough games before they hit Big East play this season.

Some highlights include a road game at Wichita State on December 9th, a road game at Georgia on December 21st and a trip to the Paradise Jam, which includes an opening game against Nevada and features Clemson, LSU, Old Dominion, Gardner Webb, Illinois State and Weber State.

Atlantic Sun champion Mercer also plays the Pirates again to open the season on November 16th and NEC champion Mount St. Mary’s (December 2nd), George Washington (November 29th) and Rutgers (December 6th) also play games at the Prudential Center as well this season.

Expectations will be high for Seton Hall this season as McDonald’s All-American and guard Isaiah Whitehead joins the roster and other talented newcomers include forward Angel Delgado, forward Mike Nzei and guard Khadeen Carrington. This schedule should test this team quite a bit as Willard’s team hopes to compete for a postseason berth next season.

Rutgers hoping new duo can bring a spark

of the Ohio State Buckeyes against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights during their Big Ten conference game at Rutgers Athletic Center on February 8, 2015 in Piscataway, New Jersey.
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Rutgers has struggled to achieve success on the floor the last few years and head coach Eddie Jordan is hoping that some talented newcomers can help start a turnaround. With the start of practice, local media saw some of the Scarlet Knights’ early practice and Jerry Carino of the Asbury Park Press noted that the duo of freshman point guard Corey Sanders and junior college forward Deshawn Freeman were getting a lot of burn together.

With both incoming players being four-star prospects, it’s hardly a surprise that Jordan would see what the two were capable of. According to Carino, it meant a lot of Sanders driving and forcing the defense to collapse before finding Freeman.

“It seems like coach always has us on the same team,” Freeman said to Carino. “Ever since we’ve gotten here, he’s trying to get us to play together.”

Carino also notes that since Rutgers is deeper, longer and more athletic in general this season, the team could do more with a pressing defense to help create turnovers.

While Rutgers still faces an uphill climb in the Big Ten, they at least have some exciting pieces that will be in place for a few seasons.

LSU looking into starting lineup options

FAYETTEVILLE, AR - MARCH 7:  Head Coach Johnny Jones of the LSU Tigers watches his team play during a game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Bud Walton Arena on March 7, 2015 in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  The Tigers defeated the Razorbacks 81-78.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
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LSU football and Leonard Fournette are off to a strong start this fall, but the beginning of October also means that college hoops is right around the corner. If you’re a Tigers basketball fan, you also have plenty to be excited about on the hardwood this season with the arrival of a loaded freshman class headlined by forward Ben Simmons.

While the versatile Simmons has solidified a spot in the starting lineup for next season, it’ll be interesting to see how head coach Johnny Jones uses the rest of his talented freshmen. In a story from Sheldon Mickles of the New Orleans Advocate, he looks into some potential LSU starting lineups.

Freshman guard Antonio Blakeney, a McDonald’s All-American with Simmons, is also expected to start, but does another talented freshman guard, Brandon Sampson get a shot to start? And what of Arizona transfer Craig Victor when he’s eligible to play in December?

Mickles believes the early favorite for starting lineup is guards Tim Quarterman, Keith Hornsby, Blakeney, Simmons and center Darcy Malone. When Victor returns, Mickles said Victor could push Simmons into the “center” position, which would be a matchup nightmare on the opposition because Simmons would be very tough for many college centers to defend.

Sampson also gets a mention from Mickles of having the potential to start down the line. Overall, a good problem to have for Jones and he’ll have to experiment to see which lineups are giving him the most. Having a productive starting five is nice, but I’m sure Jones would love to find the five players he wants to close with.