Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
After Seton Hall’s Blowout Loss, Sterling Gibbs Says He Will ‘Definitely’ Return Next Season
NEW YORK — Seton Hall’s late season free fall came to its seemingly inevitable conclusion in the first round of the Big East Tournament, where the Pirates were destroyed by Marquette, 78-56, in a game they were never really in.
After peaking at No. 19 in the nation earlier in the season, the Pirates (16-15) lost 9-of-10 to close the season. An NIT bid, once seemingly inevitable, seems highly uncertain at this point.
“We’re young, we were really young,” junior guard Sterling Gibbs, a second-team All-Big East selection, told SNY.tv after managing just 6 points on 1-for-8 shooting to go with 5 assists. “I think a lot of people mistake talent for us having to go far and having these high expectations.
“But at the same time, we were young and it takes a toll on the body and they just gotta get used to the Big East season. I think the fact that they have a year under their belts, everyone knows what that losing feeling feels like, it will give us motivation going into next year.”
Seton Hall already lost one player this season when sophomore guard Jaren Sina abruptly left the program late in the season amid reports of locker room discord.
Some have speculated that Gibbs may graduate early and transfer to a program that is built to win — he would surely have no shortage of suitors — but he insists he isn’t going anywhere.
“Oh no, I’m definitely coming back,” Gibbs said. “I’m at Seton Hall and that’s where I’m going to be. That’s where I’m going to finish it out.”
Asked if it was something he might reconsider or if he’s already made that decision, he said, “That’s already made.”
The Pirates will lose seniors Stephane Manga, Brandon Mobley and Haralds Karlis and at this point have wing Veer Singh and shooting guard Dalton Soffer coming in for 2015. They definitely need to find some front court size somewhere between now and next season.
Assuming they all return, their crop off freshmen studs, including newly-minted Big East Rookie of the Year Angel Delgado, along with Isaiah Whitehead, Khadeen Carrington and Desi Rodriguez, will all be sophomores. Gibbs will be a senior.
Sources told SNY.tv that Pirates coach Kevin Willard was “on safe ground” even as the team collapsed in the second half of the year. He is now 82-80 in his five seasons in South Orange, and has never had a winning record in the Big East.
“I knew the second half of the season was going to be brutal,” Willard said, adding that he has to deal with players injuries in every season at Seton Hall.
Now the pressure will really be on Willard to get this team into the postseason next year.
“I think we can be good,” Gibbs said. “It’s just a matter of just keeping us all together, making sure that everyone improves, making sure everyone makes gains.
“And I think the sky’s the limit for next year.”
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.