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Monday / April 23.
  • Seton Hall legends Terry Dehere, Jerry Walker expect Pirates to make a deep NCAA Tournament run

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    By ADAM ZAGORIA

    With Seton Hall set to honor its 1992-93 team on Saturday at Prudential Center, two of that team’s stars expect the current Pirates to make a deep run this March.

    Seton Hall (14-3), which hosts Patrick Ewing and Georgetown on Saturday, is currently projected as a No. 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament per ESPN’s Joe Lunardi.

    “I think they have all the characteristics and ingredients to make a deep run,” Pirates legend Terry Dehere, who helped Seton Hall win Big East Tournament titles in 1991 and ’93, said in a phone interview. “They have a good mix of guys as far as experience and talent and I think that serves them well to make a run, having mature guards that handle the ball 90-95 percent of the time for you. That’s a big help. And then you have experienced front court players.”

    Seton Hall, of course, is led by its senior group of Angel Delgado, Desi Rodriguez, Khadeen Carrington and Ish Sanogo, along with sophomore guard Myles Powell.

    “They have fun, they look like they enjoy playing together, which is important,” Dehere said.

    After two straight first-round exits in the NCAA Tournament, Seton Hall has big expectations to go further this year. Much further.

    Pirates head coach Kevin Willard purposely set up a tough non-conference schedule to boost Seton Hall’s resume. The Pirates own wins over ranked teams Texas Tech and Louisville, as well as Indiana, VCU and Vanderbilt in the non-conference (where they also lost at Rutgers).

    So far in Big East play, they have a  big win at Butler and a home win over Creighton, the Bluejays’ only conference loss so far.

    “I think they have an opportunity to really make a run,” former Pirates star Jerry Walker said. “I talked to Coach [Bob] Hurley in the beginning of the year and we talked about Seton Hall. One of the things coach told me was that Seton Hall could be in the Sweet 16.

    “And at that point it depends on who they’re playing how much they could advance from that point, but we all agree that they have enough to get to at least the Sweet 16, winning two games in the Tournament.”

    Delgado told ZAGSBLOG before the season that he returned for his senior year with the intention of leading the Pirates to a Final Four, where they haven’t been since P.J. Carlesimo coached Seton Hall to the 1989 championship game loss to Michigan.

    Saturday will be P.J. Carlesimo bobblehead day at The Rock.

    “I’m ready for this year,” Delgado said in November. “I already forget about those two years. I’m ready for this year, I’m ready to get to the Final Four this year.”

    One factor that could be an issue for the Pirates in big games is free throw shooting. The Pirates rank last in the conference at 67 percent.

    “That’s what I’m most concerned about,” Walker said. “I mean, because when you get in these tournaments, you can’t shoot 50 percent. You’ve got to shoot at least 80 percent in these sorts of games, and I’m very concerned about that. But hopefully when you have seniors and it’s their last hurrah, hopefully they can be shooting free throws every day. But I’m definitely concerned about that.”

    Delgado, who made the Midseason Wooden Award list, ranks sixth nationally in rebounding at 11.6 per game (Georgetown’s Jessie Govan is fourth at 11.8) and second nationally to Minnesota’s Jordan Murphy in double-doubles at 13.

    But he’s also shooting just 61 percent from the line, something that is not lost on NBA scouts.

    “What’s crazy is his form looks good,” Walker said. “I think it’s about his confidence. That’s why he’s got to put in work to build on his confidence.”

    Still, Walker and Dehere thinks he could have a future in the NBA.

    “Yes, I do think so,” Walker said. “I think Angel has a lot of upside. He’s still getting better. I wish he was a little bit more explosive and worked on his agility a little more. Other than that, I think he’s definitely an NBA prospect. He’s a legit 6-9 and he’s a great rebounder.”

    Walker said Delgado reminds him of NBA Hall of Famer Moses Malone.

    “He reminds me a lot of a Moses Malone-type guy, old NBA,” Walker said.

    Delgado may not be Seton Hall’s only NBA prospect.

    “I think Desi is an NBA prospect,” Walker said of the 6-6 Rodriguez, averaging 18.2 points and 5.3 rebounds. “He has a lot of upside, too. He’s getting better and better. He’s athletic enough, he’s explosive. he can handle, he can shoot it. So I think he can be in the conversation, too.”

    Before any NBA talk, there is the matter of the remainder of the realgar season and then the postseason, where Seton Hall has hopes of big things come March.

    Photo: Hudson Reporter

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.