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(Information in this team report is as of Oct. 1.)
COACH AND PROGRAM
Kevin Willard never had a chance to enjoy his first season as head coach at Seton Hall. Much of the joy evaporated when senior guard Jeremy Hazell, one of the great shooters in Big East Conference history, broke a bone in his left wrist while leading the Pirates to a victory over Alabama in the third game of the year.
Hazell still averaged 19.8 points a game, but he was limited to 18 games. Willard was left wondering what might have been.
"The on-the-court wins and losses weren't where we wanted them to be, but not having your best player -- really for the whole year -- will make that happen," Willard said. "If we had played a little bit better at home, I thought we could have won nine or 10 [Big East] games. We lost to Villanova at the buzzer, lost to UConn at the buzzer, and then also lost to Syracuse in a real close game where we had the chance to take the lead with about 30 seconds left. If we had had a healthy Jeremy ... I thought we could have had a really good first year in league play."
The Pirates did post a 7-11 record in Big East games (13-18 overall). Reverse those three home losses -- Syracuse (61-56), UConn (61-59) and Villanova (60-57) -- and Seton Hall would have finished at a respectable 10-8 in the league. Think about it. That would have topped Connecticut, the eventual national champion. The Huskies were 9-9.