Shaheen Holloway leaves Saint Peter’s for Seton Hall

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Shaheen Holloway is leaving Saint Peter’s for Seton Hall just days after helping the little Jesuit school make history by becoming the first No. 15 seed to reach the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament.

Seton Hall athletic director Bryan Felt announced the hiring of the 45-year-old early Wednesday evening. It really wasn’t a surprise.

Holloway played for the Pirates of the Big East Conference and his move to replace Kevin Willard has been a hot topic since the opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament. Willard left last week for the head job at Maryland.

Holloway, whose Peacocks knocked off No. 2 seed Kentucky. No. 7 Murray State and No. 3 seed Purdue before falling to North Carolina, will get a substantial raise. Willard earned $2.4 million last season, about tenfold what Holloway got at the Metro Atlantic Athletic Confernece school in Jersey City, New Jersey.

Holloway, whose teams play a hard-nosed game trademarked by defense, will be introduced at a campus press conference on Thursday.

“Life has a way of coming full circle,” Holloway said in a statement. “This is certainly a full circle moment for my family and I. Seton Hall is near and dear to my heart; it’s where I became a man, where I met the love of my life, where I spent countless hours honing my crafts as a basketball player and a basketball coach. To say that I’m excited to get started as the head men’s basketball coach at Seton Hall University would be an understatement.”

Holloway led the Peacocks to a run of three consecutive top-three finishes in the MAAC, a first for the program since the school’s first three seasons in the conference in the early 1980s. They won the MAAC Tournament to make their first NCAA Tournament since 2011. The program was 64-57 under his lead, including 22-12 in 2021-22.

Prior to Saint Peter’s, Holloway helped build a foundation at Seton Hall that turned it into a program that competes for NCAA Tournament bids and Big East championships on a yearly basis. In eight seasons as associate head coach under Willard from 2010-18, the Pirates experienced a multitude of success both on and off the court.

Holloway also was on Willard’s staff at Iona, where they turned the Gaels’ program around. They transformed a 2-28 team in 2006-07 into a 21-win team in 2009-10.

Holloway was a four-year standout at Seton Hall from 1996-2000 and helped lead the team to the 2000 NCAA Sweet 16. He hit the winning layup in overtime to defeat Oregon in the first round.

The New York City holds the Pirates’ record with 681 career assists and was inducted into the Seton Hall Athletics Hall of Fame in 2012.

Holloway becomes the first Seton Hall graduate to lead the men’s basketball program since 1953 graduate Richie Regan led the Pirates from 1960-70.

“I am incredibly excited to welcome Shaheen Holloway and his family home to Seton Hall,” athletic director Bryan Felt said. “Shaheen is a winner in every sense of the word, and he is not only an incredible coach, but also an incredible educator of young men. He works tirelessly to put his student-athletes in a position to succeed, and he makes them believe that they can achieve anything with hard work and determination. That is evidenced by his historic NCAA Tournament run this month.”

Willard recommended Holloway succeed him after the Pirates were beaten by TCU on March 18 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

All-Big East: Gillespie unanimous, Champagnie honored again

Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports
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NEW YORK — Villanova guard Collin Gillespie was the only unanimous pick for the all-Big East team Sunday, and St. John’s forward Julian Champagnie joined him as a repeat selection.

Connecticut guard R.J. Cole and forward Adama Sanogo also were on the first team, along with Marquette forward Justin Lewis and Seton Hall swingman Jared Rhoden.

Gillespie, the co-Big East player of the year last season, is averaging 16.3 points per game to pace the 11th-ranked Wildcats. He leads the conference in 3-point shooting (43.1%) and free-throw percentage (91.5%).

Champagnie is averaging 18.9 points and 6.6 rebounds. He just missed winning the Big East scoring title for the second consecutive year, nipped by Lewis in the final game of the regular season.

Two players from regular-season champion Providence were included on the all-Big East second team: guard Jared Bynum and center Nate Watson. Joining them were DePaul guard Javon Freeman-Liberty, Creighton forward Ryan Hawkins and Villanova guard Justin Moore.

Receiving honorable mention were St. John’s point guard Posh Alexander, Creighton center Ryan Kalkbrenner, Marquette guard Darryl Morsell and Xavier center Jack Nunge.

The conference’s head coaches vote for the all-conference teams and are not allowed to pick their own players.

The league’s player of the year will come from the all-Big East first team. The winner will be announced Wednesday afternoon at Madison Square Garden before the Big East Tournament opener, when the conference also reveals its coach of the year, freshman of the year and scholar-athlete of the year.

Creighton had three players on the all-freshman team: guard Trey Alexander, forward Arthur Kaluma and point guard Ryan Nembhard, who was chosen Big East rookie of the week six times before a season-ending wrist injury late last month.

Nembhard was a unanimous selection to the all-freshman team, along with Georgetown guard Aminu Mohammed and Marquette guard Kam Jones. UConn guard Jordan Hawkins also made the squad.

No. 22 Villanova edges short-handed No. 15 Seton Hall 73-67

Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
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NEWARK, N.J. – Justin Moore hit a go-ahead jumper with 1:36 to play and No. 22 Villanova posted a tough 73-67 victory over short-handed but gutsy No. 15 Seton Hall on Saturday.

Collin Gillespie scored 21 points, Brandon Slater added 17 and Moore had 13 for the Wildcats (9-4, 2-1 Big East). Jermaine Samuels added 11 points and 11 rebounds for Villanova, which dominated the boards 42-28 with Seton Hall missing two key big men because of COVID-19.

Backup guard Bryce Aiken had 22 points to lead Seton Hall, which has lost the last two games playing with only eight players because of COVID-19 issues. Jared Rhoden added 13 and Jamir Harris had 12, all on 3-points, for Pirates (9-3, 0-2).

Seton Hall had three players foul out with Myles Cale picking up his fifth foul and joining Alexis Yetna and Tray Jackson on the bench with less than a second to play. Yetna had 10 points and eight rebounds.

The final five minutes took almost 15 minutes to play with all the timeouts and the free throws.

Villanova’s play on the offensive glass was the key. Moore’s go-ahead shot gave the Wildcats a 62-61 lead and it came after Gillespie missed and 3-pointer and Bryan Antoine got the rebound. After a Pirates miss, Slater made two free throws for a 64-61 edge after another offensive rebound. Another Gillespie free throw pushed the lead to five points.

Seton Hall got within two points twice in the final 10 seconds but Villanova held on for its fourth straight win over the Pirates.

BIG PICTURE

Villanova: The Wildcats have a talented roster and have all the components. They can shoot, rebound and play defense. It’s a typical Jay Wright team build for a post-season run. The four losses is not a good number but they included losses to No. 1 Baylor, No. 3 Purdue and No. 5 UCLA. They also were missing a key player with guard Caleb Daniels, who was averaging almost 10 points and 4 rebounds. He was on the COVID-19 list.

Seton Hall: The Pirates probably are going to fall out of the Top 25 after two straight losses. While it may seem unfair playing shorthanded, the only key player they are missing statistically is junior forward Tyrese Samuel. He is averaging 10.8 points and 6.9 rebounds. Center Ike Obiagu doesn’t contribute big numbers but he is a force in the of the defense.

UP NEXT

Villanova: Returns home to play Creighton for the second time this season. The Bluejays won 79-59 on Dec. 17.

Seton Hall: At Butler on Tuesday.

Horchler carries No. 21 Providence over No. 15 Seton Hall

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
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PROVIDENCE, R.I.- Providence coach Ed Cooley isn’t about to get caught up in the national attention his team is receiving.

Noah Horchler scored 17 points with 13 rebounds, and Nate Watson added 14 points to carry No. 21 Providence to a 70-65 victory over short-handed, 15th-ranked Seton Hall on Wednesday night.

“I think our players are earning it. They deserve it. If you earn it, you deserve it,” Cooley said. “As a coach, you’re just looking forward to the next game. It may help you in some recruiting. That’s just someone’s opinion of what your team is.

“If we do what we’re supposed to do and win enough games, then they’ll be a number beside (us),” he said.

Watson, a 6-foot-10 center, became the 18th player in Providence history to reach 1,500 points.

Playing its first game since a victory over Rutgers on Dec. 12, Seton Hall had only eight players in uniform. Five were in COVID-19 protocols, but only one starter, 7-foot-2 center Ike Obiagu, was out.

“It was really different,” Seton Hall’s Myles Cale said of the small bench. “We were missing guys that you usually travel with and build that chemistry around. You’re just missing that feeling about the game because they definitely bring that energy. I wish they could have been there, but it’s just the times we’re living in.”

Jared Bynum also had 14 points for Providence (12-1, 2-0 Big East), which is off to its best start since opening 2015-16 by winning 14 of its first 15 games.

Alexis Yetna had 13 points and 11 rebounds for the Pirates (9-2, 0-1). Bryce Aiken scored 11 points, and Jared Rhoden and Tray Jackson each had 10.

Providence led by nine points at halftime and pushed it to 40-27 on Al Durham’s steal and breakaway jam in the opening minute of the second half.

Seton Hall closed within 57-50 with just under six minutes left on Yetna’s put-back before Providence pushed it back to double digits.

Yetna’s layup cut it to 66-63 with 17.3 seconds left, but Durham hit two free throws.

Seeing their first action since beating then-No. 20 Connecticut on the road 11 days ago, the Friars rode the hot 3-point shooting of Horchler to a 36-27 halftime edge.

“The virus is spiking and changing sports every day,” Cooley said. “I’m just glad we were able to play. We beat an undermanned, very talented team.”

Neither team held more than a one-possession lead until Horchler connected from beyond the arc on three straight possessions in just under two minutes during a 15-0 spree that pushed Providence ahead 34-22.

“That’s something we practice every day – step-in 3s,” Bynum said.

BIG PICTURE

Seton Hall: The Pirates’ season had been derailed by COVID-19 before Wednesday, so it’ll be interesting to see if they can regain the form that led to them climbing in the AP Top 25 before three games were canceled. … The school announced before the game that reserve guard Jahari Long had surgery on his right knee on Dec. 20 and will miss the remainder of the season.

Providence: If experience means anything, the Friars could be in for a strong season. They have a ton of it and some well-balanced scoring, too. Their starting lineup consists of four graduate students and a senior. Three of the starters are averaging double figures and a fourth came in at 9.9 points per game.

“We’ve got a veteran group, you demand excellence, you hold them accountable,” Cooley said. “When you’ve got an older group, you expect to win. You come into the game and give the guys a game plan, which they follow and you expect to win. You’re expecting to win when you have an older group like this.”

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Despite having an extremely limited bench on Wednesday, Seton Hall will likely drop a bit in next week’s poll unless the Pirates have a solid showing in their conference home opener on Saturday. Providence almost certainly will climb barring a bad showing over the weekend.

UP NEXT

Seton Hall: Hosts No. 21 Villanova on New Year’s Day.

Providence: At DePaul on New Year’s Day.

Schedule shuffling prompted by COVID hits college basketball

Grant Halverson/Stringer
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No. 21 Kentucky will now face North Carolina on Saturday in the CBS Sports Classic in Las Vegas after each of their opponents had to drop out due to COVID-19 issues, while No. 16 Seton Hall’s second cancellation in as many days will lead to a forfeit in the Big East Conference standings.

The worsening coronavirus situation in the U.S. forced another schedule scramble across college basketball Friday. The new matchup was announced after fourth-ranked UCLA canceled its game against the Tar Heels. The Bruins have paused team-related activities, and the status of their future games is undetermined. They had called off a home game against Alabama State set for this week.

The other game that was part of the Vegas event, a matchup between No. 15 Ohio State and Kentucky, was canceled because of positive COVID-19 results within the Buckeyes program.

At Seton Hall, the Pirates’ game Monday against St. John’s has been canceled. In a release from the school, that will result in a conference-only forfeit per Big East policy when a team cannot begin or complete a game due to an insufficient number of players.

It will not affect Seton Hall’s overall record and will go down as a “no contest” per NCAA policy.

The announcement came a day after the cancellation of Seton Hall’s Saturday game against Iona at Madison Square Garden.

At least 20 men’s basketball games and 36 women’s basketball games have been canceled or postponed this season due to COVID-19 protocols as of Friday afternoon. It is a number that seems sure to grow as the nation grapples with a surge in coronavirus cases.

Second-ranked Duke announced Friday afternoon that it would play Elon on Saturday after having a second opponent cancel due to COVID-19 concerns.

The Blue Devils were originally slated to play Cleveland State before that program had to cancel and pause team activities. Duke then scheduled Loyola Maryland, only to say that game was off as well due to positive tests within the Greyhounds program.

Duke ended up bringing in Elon, located about 40 miles west of Durham. Elon is coached by Mike Schrage, who worked nine seasons under Mike Krzyzewski at Duke.

Syracuse also announced it is canceling its next two games due to COVID-19 protocols. The school will determine whether Saturday’s scheduled game against Lehigh and next Tuesday’s scheduled game against Cornell can be made up later.

“Our top priority is safeguarding the health and well-being of our student-athletes, athletics staff, fans and the campus and central New York communities,” Syracuse athletic director John Wildhack said. “While it is disappointing to have to postpone any athletic event, this is the right decision given the increasingly difficult public health landscape.”

Meanwhile, one team that had been locked down is starting back up. Washington paused play after an outbreak of cases following its game on Nov. 27. Washington had a game at No. 5 Gonzaga canceled, a road game at No. 8 Arizona rescheduled for January, and a home game against No. 4 UCLA wiped out and recorded in the Pac-12 standings as a forfeit during that stretch.

Washington coach Mike Hopkins declined to say how many players and coaches tested positive. He said the team finally started having full practices Monday and he expects to have everyone available when it returns to the floor Saturday against Seattle, 21 days after last playing.

“Having those opportunities against some of the best teams in the country you always learn so much about your team and yourself and your program, and we were really looking for those opportunities,” Hopkins said Friday. “But as we all know, this thing is serious and it’s real. And we’re just lucky that no one was really affected on a personal side and just grateful that we were able to get through it.”

Citing public health recommendations and COVID-19 concerns for the team, No. 23 Colorado State canceled a game Saturday against Tulsa at the Hoops Hype XL Collegiate Basketball Showcase in Fort Worth, Texas, and later pulled out of a game Tuesday night against No. 6 Alabama in the C.M. Newton Classic in Birmingham.

“By making the decision now, it affords Alabama an opportunity to find another opponent for next week,” athletic director Joe Parker said.

Schedule changes also include Hampton withdrawing from the Legacy Classic matchup against North Carolina Central on Saturday, with Hampton pausing team activities due to protocols. Delaware State is replacing Hampton in the event featuring HBCUs.

On the women’s side, Middle Tennessee’s game at Belmont on Sunday is off due to issues within the Belmont program. No makeup date has been scheduled.

Johnson hits game-winning 3, Ohio St. tops No. 21 Seton Hall

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FORT MYERS, Fla. – Meechie Johnson Jr. made a game-winning 3-pointer with 2.3 seconds left and Ohio State beat No. 21 Seton Hall 79-76 on Monday night in the Fort Myers Tip-Off.

Seton Hall guard Jamir Harris stole it and raced for a fast-break layup to tie it at 76 with 15.9 seconds left. Ohio State elected not to call a timeout and Johnson made his team’s 11th 3-pointer – from NBA range.

Seton Hall got it to Tyrese Samuel for a decent look at the buzzer but it bounced hard off the backboard.

E.J. Liddell led Ohio State (4-1) with 28 points, making all 10 of his free throws and shooting 8 of 17 from the floor. Justin Ahrens scored 11 of his 17 points in the first half and Kyle Young had 12 points and eight rebounds. Johnson was 2 of 5 from the field for eight points.

Liddell started a 19-4 run with five straight points as Ohio State built a 38-28 first-half lead. Liddell finished the half with 16 points, matching Seton Hall’s star Jared Rhoden.

Rhoden finished with a career-high 29 points for Seton Hall (3-1), which was coming off a 67-65 win over No. 4 Michigan. Bryce Aiken added 16 points and Ike Obiagu had three blocks.

After calling a timeout with 50 seconds left, trailing 76-74, Seton Hall turned it over for just the eighth time when Rhoden’s foot touched the midcourt line. Liddell had a good look at a 3-pointer at the other end, but it was short and he grabbed his own rebound before turning it over.

LIGHTS OUT

The lights went out temporarily at the Suncoast Credit Union Arena with 8:59 left in the first half. Myles Cale had just made a fast-break layup following a steal to give Seton Hall a 24-19 lead. He landed awkwardly after the basket and stayed on the floor for an extended period before jogging back to the bench. The lights came back on about five minutes later.

TECH

Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann was called for a technical foul with 7:53 remaining for arguing with an official, and Aiken made two free throws to pull Seton Hall within 63-61. It was the closest the Pirates had been since 28-26.