Seton Hall opens season at Walsh against Fairleigh Dickinson

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The post-Isaiah Whitehead era begins on Friday when Seton Hall hosts defending Northeast Conference champs Fairleigh Dickinson at Walsh Gym.

After a long seven-month wait, the 2016-17 season is finally upon us.

Preseason NEC favorite Fairleigh Dickinson comes to town boasting a 2-1 record over Seton Hall in their last three contests, dating back to 2006-07;  the two schools last met in 2013-14, a 58-54 win for the Knights.

Seton Hall is the second conference champion in this season-opener and will look to prove to their fans that they are A-OK without Isaiah Whitehead at point guard — by far the largest concern orbiting this program over the summer.

Ish Sanogo and Madison Jones will not be sidelined for the opener after sitting out the scrimmage against Penn State two weeks ago with knee injuries; Sanogo had tweaked his MCL.

Seton Hall will raise the first of two Big East title banners on Friday when they hoist one to a sold out Walsh’s rafters minutes before tip; they will do the same at Prudential Center on Sunday.

Scouting Fairleigh Dickinson

Not much has changed for Greg Herenda’s FDU since I wrote this primer about them two weeks ago.

The Knights beat Division-II Merrimack 77-62 in an exhibition last Thursday after trailing by four at the half; both Jersey natives, Mike Holloway totaled 16 points and 13 boards while lone senior Tyrone O’Garro notched 14 points and 12 rebounds.

It looks like juniors Darian Anderson (preseason all-NEC) and Stephan Jiggetts will man a backcourt that is FDU’s strength. Herenda’s 2015-16 team had an average height ranked 314th in the land and he will continue to search for depth in the paint to join Holloway and Earl Potts Jr. — perhaps junior college transfer Nadi Beciri will chip in.

Another FDU weakness last season was defense (336th), which has been flagged as something that needs to be improved upon this campaign. The Knights finished 46th in tempo and 316th in bench minutes a season ago.

Three things to watch

Focus on Angel Delgado. The Dominican junior is poised to take the next step this season, especially on the offensive end if the team can get him the ball in the paint consistently. Will the big man start his journey on the way to becoming a first-team Big East player on a positive note vs. FDU?

The Hall’s defensive intensity.  Kevin Willard has compared Jevon Thomas (ineligible until Dec.) to Paul Gause,  while teammates have spoken highly of Madison Jones’ defending. Willard has said his team can now press more aggressively than they have in the past. How will Derrick Gordon be replaced?

Point guard play. Did you think I would forget about this? You know the situation by now: Who replaces IW at the one? It’ll be between Khadeen Carrington and Madison Jones for now, but to finally see this play out on the court is certainly notable and will obviously influence how the team performs.

KenPom says: No. 38 Seton Hall 85, No. 263 Fairleigh Dickinson 64 (97%)

Last 5 meetings (all-time: SHU 17-4)
2013-14 — 58-54 Fairleigh Dickinson (Prudential Center)
2008-09 — 101-70 Seton Hall (Prudential Center)
2006-07 — 76-71 Fairleigh Dickinson (Prudential Center)
2005-06 — 65-57 Seton Hall (Continental Airlines)
2001-02 — 95-73 Seton Hall (Continental Airlines)

Projected Fairleigh Dickinson starters
G – Darian Anderson
G – Stephan Jiggetts
G – Darnell Edge
F – Earl Potts Jr
F – Mike Holloway

Projected Seton Hall starters
PG – Madison Jones
SG – Khadeen Carrington
SF – Desi Rodriguez
F – Ish Sanogo
F – Angel Delgado

Time: 7pm ET
TV: FSN (regionally)/YES Network (locally)
Radio: 970 AM (Gary Cohen & Dave Popkin)
Opening line: TBA