BY LESLIE MONTEIRO
(Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
There’s no need to overthink or analyze Seton Hall’s new head coach.
We saw what Shaheen Holloway did as Saint Peter’s head coach the last two weeks to know he was the right hire. We know he has the street cred to get recruits in the tri-state area. He proved that from his work with Saint Peter’s, and let’s remember he and Kevin Willard worked together in bringing the class of Isaiah Whitehead, Desi Rodriguez, Khadeen Carrington, Angel Delgado and several others that brought the Seton Hall basketball program back to relevance in the Big East after being downtrodden under the disgraced Bobby Gonzalez.
It’s about how he can deliver as Seton Hall head coach and if he actually can. For Seton Hall to take the next step, it’s about beating Jay Wright and his Villanova Wildcats year in and year out. It starts right there. Anything less, and it will be the same old thing.
No disrespect to the current Big East coaches, but it sure seemed like their teams tend to roll over to Villanova too often ever since the new Big East was formed. The scores speak for themselves. Villanova has owned a monopoly of the new conference, and it resulted in a couple of national championships in 2016 and 2018. Once again, the Wildcats could do it again by winning a couple of games in the Final Four. They looked primed to win several more national championships before all is said and done.
It’s hard to believe any Big East team knocking Villanova off its perch anytime soon.
Seton Hall and its fans feel Holloway could be that coach that Wright meets his match. He has a way to get everyone to believe, and it was obvious from his work at Saint Peter’s. It wasn’t just the NCAA Tournament wins and the MAAC Tournament wins. It was the process of him building the program in his three years at Saint Peter’s. Remember this is a university with truly limited resources that play at a high school gym.
If Holloway can get results at Saint Peter’s, he can certainly do even better at Seton Hall. He expects that, and so do the university and the fanbase.
Most coaches say the same talking points about expecting to win and winning national championships. It becomes a cliché after a while. Interestingly enough, Holloway never said any of those things. He didn’t really have to. He knows he can.
There wasn’t much bluster or shtick coming out of him in his introductory press conference at Walsh Gym. In fact, he didn’t speak long in his introductory press conference. That’s not who he is. He is a guy who is a show-me type of guy. He lets actions and results speak for themselves. He is a coach of substance. It’s refreshing in so many ways.
Don’t mistake that for a lack of confidence. He certainly knows what he is doing. If anything, it’s reassuring confidence. It’s no wonder this hire is a slam-dunk, no-brain, open-vault hire for Seton Hall.
For the Seton Hall Pirates, this was the best scenario for them. Willard left for Maryland at a time when Holloway’s stock was high. It’s why Seton Hall fans were not worked up about Willard moving on.
The Seton Hall star is a can-do head coach. Remember he bet on himself that he would turn Saint Peter’s around after his predecessor John Dunne bailed out to Marist in 2018. Now, Saint Peter’s was a hopeless situation in the sense that facilities were awful and there was not much budget for basketball. Think Fairleigh Dickinson University in college sports. Both campuses are commuter campuses that really don’t put many resources into sports, and understandably so.
The hiring brings buzz in a sense it will be interesting what Holloway does to enhance the program. Can he be that coach who doesn’t kiss Wright’s rings?.
While Wright respects the Seton Hall Pirates, he has no reason to lose sleep on them like he used to when Jim Calhoun coached the Connecticut Huskies or when Syracuse, Louisville and other talented Big East schools were there before migrating to another conference. While Willard did have some wins against Wright, everyone knew the Villanova coach had the upper hand. This is where everyone is banking on Holloway to change the conversation.
Fans would be ecstatic if he can own Wright, but they would settle for him winning his fair share of games against the coaching standard in the Big East. It starts with recruiting and developing players. Holloway has that covered.
If the new Seton Hall head coach can be the school’s Wright, he could be the best coach the school ever had since P.J. Carlesimo.
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