It has been bugging me since minutes after Seton Hall’s post-Arkansas press conference: How well did the 2016-17 Pirates do compared to expectations?
For better or worse, I wrote a story an hour after the final buzzer with a few quotes from Kevin Willard and Khadeen Carrington, touching on a zoomed-out perspective of how the season played out on multiple levels.
Naturally, not all Seton Hall fans have agreed, so I’m looking to find out how the fan base — or at least the segment that frequents this site — feels about the 2016-17 season as a whole.
The three most-common opinions go a little like this:
The team met expectations. Seton Hall was tied with Georgetown for fourth/fifth in the pre-season coaches poll, which can also be taken with a grain of salt. I thought the Hall should have been another rung lower: below Butler and fighting with Marquette for the last at-large bid but with the potential to leap-frog the Hoyas and Butler, which isn’t far from what panned out.
Outside of the coaches poll, there were two tracks given the major question mark at point guard coming into the season. 1) a path with capable point guard play and 2) a route where it turns out to be a major weakness. Somehow, the season played out somewhere in between as Madison Jones no doubt helped the team out but wasn’t a pure distributor.
This is where my opinion lies, as pre-season I thought a return to the NCAA tournament was good enough to satisfy post-Isaiah Whitehead hunger and a best-case scenario.
Seton Hall exceeded pre-season hopes. I would imagine the argument here is that fans thought losing Whitehead would be too much to overcome and the emergence of Angel Delgado — at this level — was not expected. Perhaps a bubble-out NIT bid was a good but not great turnout for fans in this camp given not enough incoming talent alongside Myles Powell and Madison Jones to replace Whitehead and Derrick Gordon; I think Carrington’s quote about people expecting 14 or 15 wins is at the low end of the spectrum.
Kevin Willard and his guys did not improve enough. The fans that think this expected more of the junior class, regardless of Whitehead’s departure. They may have also expected more of Madison Jones at point guard (despite him not playing for 20 months), along with Jevon Thomas who panned out as a universal disappointment. For a look back, Jones finished third in my pre-season point guard poll.
The one major hard-to-quantify part of this way of thinking is the legacy look at the junior class. They have now gone three seasons without winning a single NCAA tournament game (but they do have two bids and a Big East title), though I think it’s also valid to say the team met expectations for this season, but have fallen short as a whole because they have not won a game in the tournament. Along this train of thought, would one bid that featured a first round win be better than two winless bids and a Big East tournament title? That can go either way.
Is there a fourth perspective I’m missing? Let me know if there is, and/or an argument that backs up your vote, in the comments below.