The five stages of grief have been ever-present since Seton Hall bowed out to Kansas on Saturday night, but it’s becoming time for the final step in the process: acceptance and moving on.
The first two stages, denial and anger, can be merged into one.
“That’s not a moving screen on Myles Powell!!! … Oh man those officials were horrendous!!!!”
Bargaining and depression came in the 24-36 hours after Seton Hall loss. They arrived in the form of internally evaluating the senior class’ legacy and realizing that they will never put on a Pirates jersey again.
Now, it’s about accepting and appreciating what they have done, as well as focusing on the proverbial torch they will be passing to the next group of players who will be asked to fill a massive void.
There is no point reinventing the wheel, so I’ll link to Jerry Carino’s annual lens into the future as a starting point for this discussion.
That said, here is my breakdown of how Seton Hall will look at all five positions next campaign; an asterisk designates a new addition to the eligible roster.
Point Guard (Quincy McKnight*/Jordan Walker/Anthony Nelson*/Eron Gordon)
For a second straight season, this will be a major question mark for Kevin Willard. It is certainly too early to tell how this will play out, but I’ll toy with a couple of possibilities.
The most obvious solution most fans will point to is Jordan Walker getting the nod, but his freshman year was cut short by injuries including an odd decision by the coaching staff to have him sit out the NCAA trip due to surgery on his hand. If anything, he showed more potential on defense than with the rock in his hands and Sacred Heart combo guard transfer Quincy McKnight may get the Khadeen Carrington treatment as a result.
McKnight (18.9 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 3 apg) was a volume scorer in the Northeast Conference (32% from three) but should be available to fill the void to a degree while 6-foot-4 lefty Anthony Nelson will join the roster and could do enough to earn minutes at point guard too. Eron Gordon certainly showed improvement this season and was steady off the bench, but he’s not yet a Big East level point guard if he has to be relied on for an extended period of time.
Two-guard (Myles Powell/Gordon/McKnight*/Phil Flory)
This may be the most clear-cut position going into next season. This will become Myles Powell’s team and he will log the majority of minutes at the ‘two’, but I think based on how point guard works out, Gordon and McKnight could see some time here, or in a three-guard system that would something like Walker/Nelson-Powell-McKnight/Gordon.
Thinking outside the box, Seton Hall has one scholarship to give at the moment, and crazier things have happened than giving a scholarship to a hard-worker like Phil Flory, who saw 57 minutes of action this year. Still, he would probably be a third or fourth-choice option here.
Small forward (Myles Cale/Jared Rhoden*/guard)
After a shaky first half of the year, Myles Cale really came on strong in league play when given the opportunity by Kevin Willard. He already does a few things better than Desi Rodriguez did when he was evolving into a sophomore and Cale will be the favorite to inherit Desi’s spot.
Incoming freshman Jared Rhoden will certainly see time off the bench as he has impressed in high school and looks to be more potent than Cale from behind the arc. And as alluded to, we could see someone like McKnight or Gordon at the ‘three’ in a smaller lineup.
Power forward (Mike Nzei/Sandro Mamukelashvili)
This may be Seton Hall’s second biggest question mark, especially if redshirt junior Mike Nzei were to graduate and transfer — he receives his diploma this spring — or leave school. Regardless, Sandro Mamukelashvili will be given a longer leash after he showed big signs of improvement down the stretch just like Myles Cale.
It looks like the coaching staff is getting their estate in order if Nzei were to leave, as NJIT graduate transfer Abdul Lewis (12.1 ppg, 8.8 rpg), who played with Ish Sanogo at Newark (N.J.) East Side, was on campus Sunday.
As mentioned, Seton Hall still has a scholarship to give and there is always the chance of an outgoing transfer, so one must factor the graduate transfer market into their off-season expectations, at this position especially.
Center (Taurean Thompson*/Romaro Gill*/Darnell Brodie*)
There will obviously be a huge rebounding drop-off left in the wake of Angel Delgado’s departure, but Syracuse transfer Taurean Thompson proved his offensive potential by scoring 9.2 ppg as a freshman and reports indicate he did quite well against Delgado in practice this past year.
However, this is still a position that will be comprised of three guys who didn’t see a minute on the floor in 2017-18, with behemoth 7-foot-2 Romaro Gill set on receiving a redshirt for 2017-18; he would have two years of eligibility remaining as he joined the team last off-season via junior college.
It remains to be seen how incoming center Darnell Brodie — who prepped at Montverde Academy (Fla.) this past season — will fit into the picture, pun intended. While Gill is more height than girth, Brodie is somewhere around 6-foot-9 and has been listed as high as 280 pounds, it will be a tough ask to bully him out of the paint.
Way-too-early 2018-19 prediction
Assuming the roster stays even, meaning if Nzei were to leave (for example), Seton Hall would at least add someone of similar quality like Abdul Lewis, I think making the NIT comfortably should be labelled a successful campaign.
Next season is going to be more about the two-year rebound and watching this year’s role players — Cale, Sandro, Walker, and Gordon — plus the incoming freshmen develop around a core of Powell, Nzei, Thompson, and McKnight.
Any sort of post-season would be acceptable in my book while long-term development toward an NCAA bid in 2019-20 is the realistic big picture goal.
Related reading from December: