SOUTH ORANGE, NJ – After missing out on the NCAA Tournament for the sixth straight year, the Seton Hall Pirates have been selected to play in their second NIT Tournament in the last three years.
The Pirates will be a No. 1 seed and play host to the Stony Brook Sea Wolves on Tuesday at Walsh Gymnasium on Seton Hall’s South Orange campus.
“We’re disappointed but still excited, very excited about being in the NIT and having the chance to still play basketball,” head coach Kevin Willard said. “Our ultimate goal was to make NCAA, (but we’re) very excited to be playing basketball and looking forward to playing on Tuesday.”
The Seton Hall players were not made available to the media, but Willard said the team took it really hard.
“My two seniors (Jordan Theodore and Herb Pope) took it really hard,” he said. “It was tough to console them because it was a really emotional time for both of them. They both gave so much for us this year and have gone through so much at this university. At the same time, they are both really excited to be playing.”
Seton Hall had a 20-12 record, 9-11 in Big East play, but lost 10 of their last 15 games, including matchups with Rutgers and DePaul, to close their regular season.
“Unfortunately they probably looked at the last two games of the season (Rutgers and DePaul),” Willard said. “And that’s unfortunate. I don’t think people looked at the fact that we played three straight road games. We beat Pitt, we beat Georgetown and won at the RAC, which isn’t an easy place to play. They looked at the last two games, and that wasn’t who we were.”
According to Jeff Hathaway, the chairman of the 2012 Men’s Basketball Committee, the Pirates’ late-season struggle put them out of the tournament.
“Seton Hall had a tough stretch at the end of the year, went 5-10 at the end of the season,” Hathaway said.
Tuesday night’s game will be the first meaningful men’s basketball game played at Walsh Gymnasium in over a decade. The Pirates hosted William and Mary at Walsh as an exhibition game prior to the start of the 2010-2011 season at Walsh.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Willard said. “I love the Prudential Center; that was one of the main reasons I took the job. I think it’s a great venue. To have an on-campus arena, I’m really looking forward to. I love Walsh gym. I love the history about it. I love talking to alumni about it.”
Tip-off for Tuesday’s game at Walsh Gymnasium will be at 7:15 p.m.
Tim LeCras is participating in a hyperlocal journalism partnership between The Alternative Press and Seton Hall University's Department of Communication & The Arts designed to give students real-world experience.