Entering his third season, Kevin Willard is a lot more optimistic about Seton Hall's chances than his fellow coaches in the Big East.
''I like this team a lot,'' Willard said. ''For the first time since I've been here, we have a full roster, so we can use different combinations to throw at people. This is by far the best team we've had. This year's team has a lot of different guys we can depend upon. I'm the most excited about this team.''
No one expected the Pirates to do much last season, but they were one of the Big East's biggest surprises, finishing with a 21-13 record overall and an 8-10 mark in the league. They were considered an NCAA bubble team, but were bypassed and participated in the NIT instead.
The Pirates lost their top two scorers, point guard Jordan Theodore (16.1 ppg) and forward Herb Pope (15.1 ppg, 10.4 rebounds per game), to graduation. But this team does not have a single senior on the roster, and the upside is everywhere.
A pair of junior forwards - Fuquan Edwin (6-foot-6) and Patrik Auda (6-9) - lead the way. The former started all but one game last season, and the latter started 26 times. Edwin averaged 12.5 points and 6.2 rebounds along the way, while Auda posted clips of 6.8 and 4.0, respectively.