By David Cordova
Throughout the last four seasons, Seton Hall has been a program that has hung tough and stood the test of time in the Big East Tournament, due to one special recruiting class.
The recruiting class in question was the one from 2014, which featured Isaiah Whitehead, Desi Rodriguez, Angel Delgado, Khadeen Carrington and Ismael Sanogo. That class may have been one of the best assembled in school history. Many may have the same feeling four years later.
During this period of time, the Pirates made it to the NCAA Tournament twice in 2016 & 2017, won the 2016 Big East Championship and has achieved a record of 83-44. Of the quintet, Rodriguez, Delgado, Carrington and Sanogo remained. Whitehead left after his sophomore season to go to the NBA & is now in his second season with the Brooklyn Nets.
Saturday night was a swan song for the remaining four Pirates seniors at the Prudential Center in Newark as they played against Butler in their last regular-season home game before the impending Big East Tournament in New York at Madison Square Garden, in which both teams will play each other again on Thursday, March 8th.
On this night, The Pirates emerged victorious in their final regular-season home game, 77-70, over Butler.
Although the Pirates struggled with Butler senior Kelan Martin, as the newly-selected Big East Conference All-First Team member scored 35 points, The Hall played outstanding defense on the rest of the Bulldogs, limiting the majority of team’s offense outside of Martin and fellow senior Tyler Wideman.
On offense, Carrington led the way with 25 points, Delgado added 21 points and 10 rebounds. Because of injuries, Sanogo and Rodriguez did not play, and Coach Willard is saving them for the conference tournament.
But the main story of the night was the ceremony itself and the four seniors. “I think our fans were phenomenal, they got here early, they showed their unbelievable appreciate for four great seniors and it was the best senior night I’ve ever been a part of by far.”
When asked on how much the four seniors will be missed, Coach Willard replied, “Depends on who you ask. I will miss them dearly. I think that’s the great thing about what they’ve done here. They’ll never be gone. Every recruit that we have, that comes to watch us always walks away and say, ‘Man, I can’t believe how hard those guys work, how much fun those guys have.’ They’ve laid a great foundation for the guys sitting down, for the young guys. Even though their bodies won’t be here, I think they’ve passed along what it means to play at this level.”
Each player has left an indelible mark on the program. Carrington, Rodriguez and Delgado have all scored 1,000 points. But Delgado has had over 1,000 rebounds in his career at Seton Hall.
Although Saturday night was the final home game of their career, there will still be more games left for them, starting with Big East Tournament, and possibly, a third straight appearance in the Big East Tournament.
But the Core Four plus One More will always be remembered as the class that changed the game for the Seton Hall Pirates, and for the better.