|Aaron Cosby is expected to run the point this season for the Pirates, but he'll miss the first few weeks with a knee injury. (US Presswire)|
Preview: Seton Hall Pirates
Last year: 21-13 overall, 8-10 Big East (ninth), lost in second round of NIT
Coach: Kevin Willard (third year, 34-30; sixth overall, 69-67)
Projected starters: G Tom Maayan, Fr.; G Kyle Smyth, Sr. (5.5 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 1.4 apg, played last season at Iona); F Fuquan Edwin, Jr. (12.5 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 3.0 spg); F Brian Oliver, Jr. (10.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.5 apg, stats from 2010-11 at Georgia Tech); C Gene Teague, Jr. (8.6 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 0.7 apg, stats from 2010-11 at Southern Illinois)
Top newcomers: There are several new faces ready to contribute for the Pirates this season, including four players expected to be in the starting lineup from Day One. Maayan, a freshman, cut his teeth against big time competition when he played for his home country, Israel, in the FIBA U-18 European championships. Teague, Smyth, and Oliver are transfers, each bringing a different dynamic to the team. Oliver and Teague have been around for a season and will contribute in the paint as well as adding some much-needed experience. Smyth, a senior who transferred from Iona, can provide perimeter scoring.
Key losses: F Herb Pope and PG Jordan Theodore. Not only were Theodore and Pope Seton Hall's leading scorers, they were also the team's emotional leaders. Both of their absences will be felt, but Theodore's departure leaves Willard in a bit of a lurch at point guard The original projected starter, Aaron Cosby, went down with an injury and is expected to miss the first few weeks of the season.
What you need to know: The Pirates have plenty of talent, but it may take some time to build chemistry. A lot of these guys have experience, but they haven't played with one another. Chances are Seton Hall will be a totally different -- and better -- team in February than it is in November.
Mark the calender:
- Nov. 17 vs. Washington (Hall of Fame Tipoff, Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Conn.): Seton Hall will be tested by the Huskies, and a win here could lead to a matchup with Ohio State.
- Nov. 29 at LSU: The Pirates trip to Baton Rouge will mark their first true road game. They'll face a young Tiger team that should be better than a year ago.
- Jan. 9 vs. No. 2 Louisville: Seton Hall played Louisville tough a year ago at the Prudential Center despite some very poor shooting.
Biggest question: Who will play point? Aaron Cosby , a natural shooting guard, is being molded into a point guard, but he'll be out the first couple week. Maayan, a freshman, will likely get the first crack at it, but it's going to take a special talent to run a team that has not been together long. It wouldn't be surprising to see the Pirates take their lumps during the season's first month.
Best-case scenario: Maayan is able to keep Cosby's seat warm while he recovers from injury, and the Pirates get some solid nonconference wins. Cosby returns, the team gels, and Seton Hall finishes the season above .500, qualifying for the NIT.
Worst-case scenario: The Pirates have trouble getting it together with so many moving parts and fail to find any sort of groove. Pope and Theodore prove more difficult to replace than originally though. Seton Hall struggles to a losing record.
Reality: There's no question: The Pirates will miss Pope and Theodore. But they have some talent and intriguing newcomers, so they will likely end up with a mix of solid wins and confounding losses, finishing the season right around .500.
Season opens: vs. Missouri-Kansas City in South Orange, N.J., Nov. 9, 7:30 p.m. ET
For more up-to-the-minute news and analysis on the Big East, follow bloggers Evan Hilbert and Matt Rybaltowski @CBSBigEast.