What-ifs of Seton Hall, Myles Powell’s 2019-20 season will live on forever

Wendell Cruz/FinishFirstPhotos

A week removed from COVID-19’s cancellation of college hoops, Seton Hall should be playing in their opening round game in Albany right now.

Yeah, my eyebrows perked up too — it’s somehow only been a week since everything was scrapped in the interest of national health. But it feels like a year.

With such an unprecedented event, the tournament hadn’t been skipped since 1938, there’s sure to be a wide spectrum of emotions ranging from anger to denial, but sure to include at least a dose of sadness.

That’s where I’m at.

Every passing update on social media seems so hollow. So meaningless.

Final AP rankings: Seton Hall finished 15th, their best closing mark since finishing top-ten in 1992-93 heading into the Big Dance.

Myles Powell is a finalist for the West, and the Naismith awards.

And the students who have put together Seton Hall’s ‘The Voyage’ video series followed up with a must-see finale.

But for a team second only to the 1992-93 squad in weeks ranked over the course of a season to not get to show their worth — with a generational player on the roster — is simply heart-breaking.

It’s hard to care when a season feels so voided.

I wrote in my short-lived silver lining story killed off by a total cancellation of March Madness that the timing of COVID-19 is another flavor of John Clougherty.

It’s not far-fetched to say this is worse in many ways.

The outcome of Clougherty’s botched national title game call is much more focused and direct: A specific team got hosed in the crowning game of a long season.

But the imagined possibilities and half-written stories never to be properly completed that go along with this season are as agonizing as it gets.

Seton Hall lost a title game by a hair and while you may have disagreed with the call, there was closure. And it came at the 11th hour.

Closure this 2019-20 team will never truly see. And closure that was several years in the making: it couldn’t have possibly been more cruel to a star like Powell, who sacrificed personal stats and pro offers to come back for a fourth go-around.

Maybe this is easier for you.

The empty pages in your head can be amended  in such a way that sees Seton Hall make a respectful Final Four run and fall short, but still earning national glory.

Or more ambitious yet, Powell catches fire and Seton Hall wins it all, purging 1989 forever.

For the pessimistic, a season trending in the wrong direction was going to fizzle out in the first weekend anyway, so the pandemic sort of helped freeze a season in a Jurrasic Park-like amber.

But for me, the swift ending, or lack thereof, that pits this team somewhere in the vicinity of 1992-93 but certainly not above it, is brutally numbing.

There was so much to play for, so much more to find out. Emotions to bottle, and emotions to lobotomize. 

There was going to be… something. Now, there’s nothing.

Step aside Clougherty, because you have company.

While 2019-20 should be remembered for plenty of the right reasons, it will also never be forgotten for all of the wrong ones.