Friday, March 4, 2016

Seton Hall making a case to crash the party in the BIG EAST

For the entire 2015-16 season, Villanova and Xavier have been the class of the BIG EAST conference.

While most fans might assume those teams are on a collision course to meet in the title game, the Seton Hall Pirates might have a say in the race after all.

The Pirates are back amongst the elite of the BIG EAST at 21-8 overall and 11-6 in conference play.

No, these are not your father's Pirates under the direction of former coach P.J. Carlesimo, who guided them to the National Championship game in 1989.

However, the current team— comprised of 10 underclassmen led by current coach Kevin Willard are making a statement as BIG EAST regular season play winds down with the No. 3 seed locked down in next week's conference tournament at Madison Square Garden.

Fresh off a much-needed win at home against No. 5 Xavier, 90-81 on Feb. 28, Seton Hall's four-game win streak came to a halt with a 85-78 loss on the road at Butler on March 2.

Seton Hall will look to rebound and close the regular season with five wins in their last six games on Saturday at DePaul.

Here are two players to keep an eye on in the regular season finale:

The emergence of Isaiah Whitehead:

In order for the Pirates to finish on the right side of the scoreboard on Saturday, Isaiah Whitehead will be counted on to produce.

With Sterling Gibbs' departure in the off-season to Connecticut, Seton Hall knew a leader needed to step up and Isaiah Whitehead filled the void with ease.

The sophomore guard leads the Pirates this season with 17.4 points per game and a 37.5 shooting percentage.

Whitehead produced six games of 20-plus points in the month of February and will look to carry the momentum going forward as a case could be made for consideration to take the BIG EAST Player of the Year honors.

Khadeen Carrington- More than a role player:

The recipe to success for winning at a high level leans on other players to step up and Khadeen Carrington fits the mold.

As a sophomore, Carrington has shown he can hold his own weight with 13.8 PPG (second on the team).

In five of the last six games, Carrington finished with double figure marks in the scoring department, highlighted by a 10-of-10 performance from the free-throw line in a 72-64 win at Georgetown on Feb. 17.

Can Seton Hall break through and make a run into the second week of the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2000?

Only time will tell.

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