The unfortunate among you remember the 2009-10 Seton Hall basketball marketing plan that ultimately backfired: “The Time Is Now.” Fast forward ten years, and the time truly is now for the Pirates.
Remove embarrassing first round N.I.T. losses featuring groin punches, man-purse theft, and players getting arrested from your vocabulary.
Try Elite Eight, pre-season AP All-American, first in the preseason Big East coaches poll, and regular season Big East title on for size.
A decade removed from the dumpster fire that was Seton Hall hoops is a tenth-year coach in Kevin Willard, AP All-American Myles Powell, and a Pirates team ranked 12th in the preseason AP poll that is surfacing as a pre-season Final Four darkhorse.
Comparisons to the glory years of the late 80s and early 90s might be a bit too bullish for me, but skyrocketing ticket sales are unprecedented in modern Seton Hall basketball history and conjure old, grainy YouTube footage of the Meadowlands packed to the rafters.
We’re used to seeing a “sellout” or two per season, but Prudential Center looks set to host quite a few lower bowl sellouts and maybe even a truly packed house (or two).
Michigan State has been deemed a blue out. There may have been a haphazard attempts at color-outs in recent past, but a top-15 matchup with a preseason No. 1 coming to town is another beast.
The list of feel-good stories orbiting the celestial body of Pirates basketball might need a narration from Carl Sagan (we’ll settle for Gus Johnson).
Which is why it’s time for the final purge, right? The ultimate cleanse of the lingering doubts and past sporting traumas that have been endured and internalized, never to be seen or heard from again.
Who would want to relive playing a 6’6 small forward (Robert Mitchell) at center two weeks into the season?
An 18-point N.I.T. loss to Texas Tech in a barren Prudential Center?
What about a 28-point bullying from DePaul after losing to an arch-rival while on the N.C.A.A. bubble?
I bet you buried both the 2-15 streak to end regular season play (2013) and a 1-9 run to end a season including a 26-point loss to Villanova (2015) really deep in your headspace.
It’s time to make peace with what has transpired — if you haven’t already.
Don’t forget. Remember.
Because the trials and tribulations when a program is wobbling are what makes the comeback and the arrival at glory that much more meaningful.
A Patriots fan who never saw a game at Foxboro or the dismal early 90s doesn’t feel the same joy as a fan birthed in the Brady era, similar to how a Yankees fan fertilized with late-90s success doesn’t know what it’s like to climb to those heights.
Manchester City fans before and after 2008? Arguably two different breeds.
The fans that come later only know the view from the mountaintop. Ironically, a view that contains a blind spot to the journey: the footpath is hidden from the untrained eye with brush strewn about by recent success.
But for those of you who have been around the Seton Hall block a bit — from Walsh Gym to South Mountain Arena to the Meadowlands to Prudential Center and everywhere in between — you know that journey and then some. You can’t forget that treacherous trail littered with heartbreak.
The time is now to get hyped about this coming season, and despite the late-game doubts and anxiety it may yield, embrace the past.
It’s what makes the present so redeeming, and future success that much sweeter.