With Seton Hall in a rut, will you help the team out of it?

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There is no doubt that Seton Hall basketball has lost its way over the past month of Big East play, as fan morale has plummeted from lofty preseason aspirations of trips to the Sweet 16 and beyond.

But I’ll be daring enough to pose the question: So what?

As of now, Seton Hall has lost six of their last nine, are in danger of seeing a losing conference record if they falter at scalding hot Xavier on Wednesday, have slipped from a three- to a borderline six-seed in the NCAA tournament, and at a macro level, have come up way short of preseason projections not only from the local fan base, but on a national level.

And yes, it’s fair to say the blame resides both with the seniors — who have often resembled their freshmen selves — and head coach Kevin Willard, who has yet to win an NCAA tournament game with this group.

Do you have all the negativity — valid, but negative — out of your system now? Good.

Because again, so what?

In America, followers of different sports entities are called fans. Short for fanatic of course, which as defined by Cambridge Dictionary is “a person whose strong admiration for something is extreme and unreasonable.”

Unreasonable. Interesting…

Anyone who follows European soccer knows that they largely use a different noun to describe those who back a particular team: supporters.

Support.

To me, support means helping someone out when they are down and out. You go to support a friend or family member when there is a death. You give moral support to someone who is anxious about an upcoming event.

Support is something this team is hungry for right now. Sure, maybe in the ideal world of most fans, a seasoned head coach and a group of seniors should be able to perform in an empty gym.

But forget that ideal stuff. In one month yesterday, we will know who is going to be Dancing.

Just one month is all you — the fans — and people like me — a reporter (but also a fan) — may have left with this group of seniors.

A group which has reached collective milestones of points scored (they’re at what, 300 million now?), has incredible individual achievements like Angel Delgado’s rebounding record, has seen things through in the classroom and on the court as a unit, and has probably made you (but definitely made me) tear up when they brought home the Big East title just a mere two years ago.

The list can go on for why you should shed the negativity and simply support these young men.

And I know what a percentage of you are thinking either consciously or subconsciously: You don’t mind the short term losing because you want Willard gone so that an integral limit to the program’s achievement can be lifted and a whiteknighting Hurley can come in and save the day.

I was very much subscribed to that way of thinking late in the Bobby Gonzalez reign, but also during the dreadful 2014-15 season, and we all know how that unique situation turned out.

While I won’t debate Willard’s utility with anyone at this stage, I will say that it’s easy to forget the horses who got you here. Hint: they are the same horses who are still here.

But if you are remotely close to this camp of fans who are actively rooting for Willard’s demise, or have packed it in for the season saying you have seen enough, I’ll challenge you to stop being a fan.

And become a supporter.

Get out to Newark on Sunday to perhaps snap a losing streak or applaud the beginning of a winning streak after an upset at Xavier.

Buy tickets to the St. John’s game at the Garden — quick, they’re going fast and it’s going to be packed.

Clear your calendar for the Villanova game, because a big-time upset would do wonders at the tail-end of a season, just ask the Red Storm.

And heavens forbid, don’t let the first Senior Day that falls on the last game of the season since 2013 turn out to be a sorry showing in the stands like the one Jeremy Hazell received in 2011.

If not the program as a collective, at least support the players. They deserve more, just as you rightfully deserve more out of them right now.

While it does seem like this four-year journey is headed down the wrong path in the final chapter, you’ve stuck around this long and most likely much longer than that and you’re still here; these last four years are still another galaxy compared to the 5-10 years prior.

So what that the team is struggling right now and are a disappointment in your mind. Stop raging in your Seton Hall echo chamber about the disconnect between what you thought would happen and what has come to be.

The ink has not yet dried, and you can help the team you love write that final chapter. You’ll likely regret it if you call it quits now.

Here’s to another month of unconditional support… Because what’s the alternative?

  • True Blue

    All In! Let’s Go Pirates!

  • lizadin

    Bravo!

  • 11yearplan

    I have always loved your coverage. However, your analysis of why we should be supporting this team, shedding the negativity and not whiteknighting Coach Hurley takes this to a new level. I have tickets to the final game against Butler and chose this one because I wanted to cheer for this group of seniors at their last home game. Having been a fan since the 60’s i understand where the doubts and negativity come from. However, you make the case better than I ever could why we should be cheering this team on. I have always been a supporter and a fan and will always be Hall In.

    Thanks for all you do for us.

  • Ardy

    Great article. Please blast it out to the team from the Head coach to the water boy and have the team post it on their lockers!!!

  • Andrew Herbst

    Great article Chris. I will be there Sunday and against Butler cheering on our team. GO PIRATES!

  • VinBick

    Beautiful sentiments expressed by our resident reporter. All of the Seton Hall programs deserve our support and respect. Win or lose, we are all Setonians. I will be at the Butler game to support our seniors regardless of the rough waters ahead between now and then.

    One point of disagreement with you, Chris. It is unfair to indicate that some people here want Willard to fail so that a Hurley can come charging in to win the day. A bit of a history lesson is in order. When we had a Hurley here, our fan base was brutal to him when he struggled, and hell will freeze over before that family ever supports our university in any way. Danny, Bobby, and their father certainly have bitter memories of home games in the Meadowlands Arena when Danny was booed unmercifully by his fellow students and many others in the packed venue.

  • 2003Pirate

    Have always been a fan, and will continue being a fan and supporting the University and the school. That said, this season is over.

    @ #5 Xavier. This would be a HUGE upset but a likely loss.
    vs Depaul. A very likely W and stops the skid. (7-7 BE record)
    @Providence winnable
    @St Johns (they are beating EVERYONE of late)
    vs Nova, a likely loss.
    vs Butler, winnable.

    Im seeing best case, 3-3 and a 9-9 BE season.

  • shufaninva

    I’ve had my tix for Senior Day for a few months now. I just felt that I owed it to these seniors to be there. They have brought such joy into our lives. I remember jumping around my living room like a maniac when they won that BE final. I was overcome with joy. I ran out into the street and poured a bottle of bubbly on my head lol. I was, and am so proud to be a Pirate fan. I felt that if I could make the trip, I owed it to them. I felt the same way with Pope’s senior class and day. That was a great day, even with the OT loss to RU. My only gripe is that the start time still hasn’t been announced. It has caused me to have to make the drive on Friday instead of taking a flight on Saturday, but these guys are worth it.

    I just think of how far these young men have come. Desi was a whirlwind of control and emotion as a Frosh. He was a ticking timebomb and I was always waiting for him to have his blowup. He has matured, and he not only has developed into an elite shooter, but he can be trusted as a senior player to do the right thing on the court. The others have overcome and developed as well, but Desi is the one I feel most proud of as a fan. I am sure everyone has their own favorite from this group. For me, to see what Desi has done, when he was actually an afterthought in the group as they were recruited, gives me some hope about Willard and Co.’s ability to develop talent. I hope they can repeat the Desi experience with others.

    • Larry Karg

      Desi is a lot of fun to watch. Love his moxie and demeanor. My favorite of the bunch as well.

  • Mike Walsh

    I am cracking up listening to the responses so far. I haven’t heard one person say they are a season ticket holder, I am. The fan support at the Rock has been very good this year. I was shocked at the crowd that showed up for Marquette last week, the weather sucked and driving was difficult in some areas and the building was loud as the Hall tried to make a comeback. The “supporters” show up for the games, the “fans” will continue spewing the negativity here. I love this senior class and will miss them. My posts always compliment the recruiting and I feel that the younger players will not disappoint. My only issue with coaching is player time management, the younger guys need to get more time and the seniors more rest. I WILL BE AT EVERY HOME GAME AND PROBABLY THE GARDEN. GO PIRATES!!!

    • ThePirateFan

      FWIW I caught our guys @Nova and @Georgetown (I am a jinx apparently), and fans of both teams were surprised by how well SHU fan’s traveled. As far as what we see on the court, I don’t think I can disagree more (I’d be happy with the 5, Nzei, Cale, and nobody else), but to each their own.

  • Ardy

    The problem is some underlining factors that has to be honestly address before we can get back to winning. Until that is dealt with honestly winning will be second. Everybody is not going to make the NBA and even if they are they need to do the best they can for the program that has supported them over the years. It should not have come to this point that is why I have concern. Have this gone to far and if they right the ship how long will it hold up? Even with some big upsets will they revert back to THE SENIORS ONLY BUDDY BALL OR EXCEL TO THE SH PIRATES?

  • SC

    Great write up Chris. This is the most talented team we have had in two decades. If we don’t support this team to go as far as they can, when will we? Crazier things have happened and I wouldn’t be shocked if this team was able to beat Xavier on the road or Nova at home. You are either HALLin or HALLout

  • RonD

    Thanks, Chris. Your perspective was sorely needed.

    I’ve been a season ticket holder for 6 years after I returned to NJ. These kids deserve our support for all they have given us, both the ups and the downs.

    But so far the ups have far outweighed the downs— the BET, the 7-2 stretch runs the previous two seasons, the big wins so far this year: TT, @L-ville, Creighton, @ Butler. Maybe this season won’t be what we expected, maybe the expectations were too high and seniors in their last go around are feeling the pressure. We all know the team needed a point guard.

    I don’t know. But I do know they deserve our support as good young men who have grown up on and off the court right before our eyes.

  • SHU95

    Everyone really wants to see these guys go out with a bang… Now is NOT the time to give up. We are 6-6, Not 2-10. I will be there for every minute of every game until the final horn, whenever that may. We just need a ‘get over the hump game’ like Creighton last year & they’ll be fine. Let’s Go Pirates!!!

  • TheBar1

    Well said, Chris!

  • fouline

    Chris, some people think that “fan” derives from the word “fantasy”. That said, the underlining the problem of the team has never been the talent, it’s always been the coach. He’s not the right person to lead them past themselves. It just is what it is. But that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the ride. It’s been fun and will continue to be fun until they throw us out kicking and screaming from the dance.

  • Mike Walsh

    By the way, SHU is #27 in RPI and #35 in Kenpom ratings.

    • ThePirateFan

      A far cry from the fat lady singing.

  • shu_92

    Great article Chris. As someone who has watched/listened/or been to every Hall game since I was 8 years old it shocks me that people don’t understand the way Willard and these kids have transformed this program. Bobby Gonzalez took this program to the lowest depths of mediocrity and disfunction and Willard brought it back to national relevance and respect. Some people just don’t realize the quality of coaching and competition in the Big East and how hard it is to win games.

    We’re limping into March, but no one wants to play these seniors in the tourney, and I have faith they are going to come through for us when it matters most.

  • PadrePirate

    St John’s is proof that a team can turn things around late in the season. College hoops is already a heart-driven sport, and this group has always been especially emotional. They feed off confidence and energy but a little droopiness snowballs quickly. These kids (and Willard) have accomplished much, and we all believe they’ve got something more left. They’re in a rut, but 6 games + BET is plenty of time to turn things around.

    I can’t be at the Rock, but I listen to these games on a +6-8 hour time difference every week when I should be in bed. That’s only way to show my “fanatic” support this year. GO HALL!

  • LBP

    I doubt that the Brothers and Sisters on this Board are less than full “Fans” of Seton Hall Basketball and/or this Team. This Board serves at least two purposes : 1.) Education –and Chris you do as well in that area as any writer I have experienced and I welcome the insights of many of the Posters; 2.) a place to vent– which is essential to keep any Community strong.
    This Team was always liked by me because of its’ “Blue Collar” work ethic and its’ toughness. When I sense/see that the work effort is eroded, I become frustrated and I vent.
    But my venting, as I am sure with so many Others is not a dismissal of my ,or the Others,support of this Team. I have been a Season Ticket holder from 1968. I have been to more Games this Year than ever and have been impressed with the both the size and enthusiasm of the Crowds. I will venture that the Rock will earn its name v Nova and on Senior nite.

    • Mike Walsh

      The only thing I caution to those who need to vent, the players are probably reading this stuff and that is counterproductive.

      • LBP

        If pointing out that the Team is not playing hard, I hope it is counterproductive 🙂

        • Mike Walsh

          Not talking about your comments, others go a little too far when venting.

      • PadrePirate

        This adds weight to my suspicion that you are really Phil Flory under a pseudonym… Serioulsy, I agree but I doubt they read this blog.

  • Coach Mike

    One game at a time. These guys are very good (not great) but not collectively playing well right now. Just remember where we were (the Gonzalez ashes) to where we are now (not quite the promised land but well-respected and usually exciting). Well said Chris. Hoping for a hot streak and good foul shooting. [CM – A 20 year season ticket holder]

  • FireWojo

    Is there nothing more painful than a season of dashed hopes? I am a Marquette Man and I come in peace. But as you must know the faithful in Milwaukee share your agony. We too have felt the twist of the knife as metal shears bone and the blood of optimism drains from the believer.

    There was once a time when the Marquette community expected nothing less than a run past the first weekend. But for half a decade we have been tormented by mediocrity and sloth.

    There was once a time when journeys to NYC , Rhode Island, and Chicago meant the wresting of laurels and a drink from the gilded chalice. No more. Sadly, shamefully, no more.

    We feel your pain.

    • VinBick

      From the outside, Wojo looks pretty damn good as a head coach. Top to bottom, there are no weak coaches in the Big East. Patrick Ewing is the only unproven guy at this point, but he looks like an up and coming competent leader.

      The future of the BE is strong and the quality of the players simply gets better and better. There may be “only” five or six teams in the Big Dance, a down year for the league. The TV ratings are on the rise and attendance is up.

      Most of the games are entertaining and highly-charged contests. Our “Rock” is a comfortable, beautiful venue and the rest of the venues are rich in tradition and pleasant places, too.

      The late comers to our league, Marquette, Butler, Xavier, Creighton, and DePaul, are great additions to the league.

      Support you coach and your team; try to be a bit more patient. Like any family, we bicker a bit here, but it is all in-house. We love our coaches and players as our program is on the rise and so is Marquette.

    • 2003Pirate

      I read through to “But for half a decade….” and then LOL’d.

    • shufaninva

      Could you be a little more descriptive? I’m not quite feeling your point.

  • TallChiGuy

    Thanks for writing this. I needed it.
    I’m a Seton Hall alum who lives and does with the team each year. My negativity has started to come out again as I thought this was going to be another wasted opportunity for a team with a lot of talent. I’d love to see them make a run, but they need to bring some energy! When Angel said earlier this year that we were “coming for everyone’s necks” – o was fired up. We need to bring that energy back!
    Go Hall!

  • Mike Walsh

    Coach K makes a ballsy move removing Duval as a starter, Willard can learn from the best. https://www.yahoo.com/sports/m/cf3c84e5-3f00-3336-a18c-fb91ae797f59/ss_jeff-capel-on-alex-o%E2%80%99.html

  • Ardy

    LET’S GO HALL. LET’S WIN TONIGHT AGAINST ALL ODDS!!! We have seen the worst let’s show our best!

    • PadrePirate

      X has won 8 in a row and seems locked in on the BE title. For me, a “moral victory” would be a hard fought loss within 5 pts. For this team to pull of the upset, all cylinders must be firing and we have to stick to JP and Blueitt like crazy glue all night. Their bigs gave Angel fits last game, and he’s injured. Cintas crowd is tough, etc. Odds definitely stacked…all of which will make tonight’s W all the more sweet! GO HALL

      • Ardy

        If they are ready I am locked in and ready to ride. Everybody starts with Zero and each team gets a turn to get the ball. LET’S GO HALL THE WAY!!

      • Matty P

        I’m hoping all these close games that Xavier has been winning comes back to bite them tonight. In their last four St. John’s took them to the wire, they needed OT to beat Butler and Georgetown and, had a questionable foul call at the end of the Creighton game which gave them free throws to pull out the win.

  • Elvin Ciego

    I have enjoyed watching this group of seniors for the past four years. Their first year they were a lot of distractions, but other than Whitehead turning pro the others have stayed at Seton Hall, which is saying something, considering how frequently players transfer nowadays. I am very proud of what they have accomplished. The Big East is a tough conference, there is a lot of travel and every team is a challenge.

    Quick question–how is Angel’s dislocated knee?

  • Ardy

    Chris, once they figure things out there will be no turning back!

  • LBP

    Baby steps tonite?

  • Joe J

    It’s hard to stay positive with a team which looks to have quit on its coach, fans and themselves. There is not much anything a fan can do to help if the team does not show up and compete.