Posted on: January 13, 2011 4:17 pm
Edited on: January 13, 2011 5:25 pm
Posted by Eric Angevine
We all know that guy who hangs out in college way too long , getting his second degree or filing for twelve minor concentrations like an academic version of Brooks from The Shawshank Redemption . Once you get inside that warm cocoon of institutional calm, you just don't want to leave.
Seton Hall guard Jeremy Hazell was starting to seem like that guy. Already 25 years old, Hazell seemed prepared to come back again next season after a series of personal setbacks assailed him. It was bad enough when he injured his left wrist in November, but while he was coming back from that injury, he was shot in the right armpit while on Christmas break in his hometown of Harlem, NY. Nobody would have blamed him if he chose to take a redshirt and come back to help Seton Hall win games next season.
But he didn't. Hazell visited the doctor on Monday - that much we knew right away. But he and coach Kevin Willard would only say that he was cleared to play, not whether he planned to actually do so. We started to suspect something was up when he joined the team on a road trip to Chicago, but still thought that the prospect of joining this season's tough sledding might not appeal to the senior.
If you're like me, your estimation of Hazell shot way, way up yesterday afternoon when you heard that he would, indeed, play at DePaul. It climbed a couple more notches when the news came down that he not only played, but scored 23 points after coming off the bench in the fourth minute of the first half.
Just to recap, Hazell came back from his wrist injury in the absolute minimum time his doctor would allow. He was also shot -- SHOT -- by a gunman just eighteen days ago, and he came back playing out-of-his-mind, not tentative or ginger on the ol' wings at all. As the Associated Press reported, "Hazell, a first-team preseason All-Big East selection, had an alley-oop dunk to make it 77-60 with 2:17 left. He scored 15 points in the second half. Hazell said he never doubted that he would return to the court even after being shot."
I think I'd be a DNP - quivering pile of goo for the rest of the season if I had been shot by a robber, but it wasn't nothin' but a thang to Hazell. That's pretty tough, both mentally and physically.
It also shows loyalty to his teammates, who will have absolutely no excuses for slacking off in practice any more this season. Turf toe? Man up. Broken ribs? Get in the gym, jackwagon. Hazell here was SHOT a couple of weeks ago, and do you hear him whining? No, you don't.
All kidding aside, this is huge for the Pirates. Hazell's presence on the court should inspire his teammates to, in essence, 'win one for the Gipper'. He's got Willis Reed cred now. Seton Hall is now a respectable enough 2-3 in the Big East, just behind West Virginia and UConn, which are both 2-2. Even Hazell probably can't help them win at Pitt on Saturday, but next week's home games against slumping Georgetown and rebuilding Rutgers are winnable.
When you know your team has the toughest player on the floor, anything starts to seem possible.
Photo: US PRESSWIRE
Posted on: December 27, 2010 12:21 pm
Edited on: December 27, 2010 5:39 pm
Posted by Matt Norlander
No program in 2010 has had more topsy-turvy turns, felt more helter and skelter, than Seton Hall.
The Pirates are the New York Jets of college basketball. While that analogy is not flawless, hopefully you can see the general correlations between the two. (Though, does Bobby Gonzalez’s affinity for the man-purse count as a fetish?) Of course the expectation level and public devotion for the Pirates does not nearly match that of Gang Green. Still, both New Jersey-housed teams have seen their year dominated by stories that have had more to do with performance outside the playing arena.
The latest drama for SHU came over the weekend, when Pirates shooting guard Jeremy Hazell (right) was nipped in the arm by a bullet. Hazell was with his family in Harlem when they were victims of an armed robbery. He’s doing fine now (thrilled that he is OK) and is believed to be joining the team today in practice.
The Hazell incident got me to thinking about how screwy the past 361 days have been. (Still four left to squeeze in one last bizarre bit of news, you know.) So let’s take a look back at 2010, through a Pirate’s eye. No need to run the gamut on the Jets; you’re probably all too aware of those 36 subplots.
• After Robert Mitchell criticizes former coach Gonzalez to the press amid a disappointing end to the 2009-10 season, Mitchell is promptly kicked off the team.
• Less than 24 hours later, Mitchell and former SHU player Kelly Whitney grab guns and rob eight people.
• Following his team’s 15-point loss to Notre Dame in the Big East tournament, Gonzalez makes his case for his team to earn a bid … to the NIT. It works. Seton Hall earns a 4-seed.
• The Pirates are beaten at home in the first game of the NIT by No. 5 Texas Tech. The game causes a stir because Herb Pope punches an opposing player in the groin.
• Within hours of Seton Hall's season coming to an end, Gonzalez is fired.
• Twelve days later, former Iona coach Kevin Willard is hired.• The next day, Hazell, who has been known to take 347 shots in some games, enters his name into the NBA Draft. Less than a week later, he withdraws.
• In late April, Herb Pope collapses at a team workout, technically dies, then comes back to life.
• A month goes by, and all is silent on the Seton Hall front. Then Gonzalez is caught attempting to shoplift a European carry-all. The man who was once the hottest coaching prospect on the East Coast is no longer employable.
• On a Friday in late June, Mitchell and Whitney are charged with kidnapping, aggravated assault, burglary, robbery and possession of weapons. They confess.
• Pope’s comeback story is the best thing about Seton Hall basketball in 2010.
• As the first year under Willard begins, Seton Hall fails to beat any of the legitimate teams on its schedule and stumbles out to a 6-6 start to its 2010-11 season.
• Hazell takes a bullet on Christmas. The primary scorer for the Pirates has been out 39 days since injuring his left wrist, and whether he returns or not will have a lot to do with determining how Willard's first season at the helm turns out.
You can follow Norlander on Twitter: @CHJournal