June 9, 2014
In advance of the 2014 Seton Hall Athletics Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony which will honor the 1988-89 national runner-up men’s basketball team, SHUPirates.com will take you through the moments that comprised the Pirates’ magical run to the Kingdome and the Final Four – one that ignited passions, defied the odds and left an indelible mark on the program and the university alike.
On Friday we highlighted a pair of key victories over regional foes, wins that signified this Seton Hall team was primed to do something special, ending a 75-year drought at St. John's before blitzing Rutgers in Walsh Gym. Today we look at a scorching hot Seton Hall squad coming off its 12th win in a row. The No. 10 Pirates were to play fifth-ranked Georgetown in a marquee matchup. Just one day before the game Seton Hall announced that they sold out Meadowlands Arena, becoming the first team to achieve that feat.
There were no signs The Hall was going to slow down anytime soon as following the big win over Rutgers the Pirates easily handled regional foes Fordham and Princeton before heading down to The Big Easy for the 50th Sugar Bowl Classic.
Showdowns with Virginia and DePaul would be on the docket at the two-day holiday tournament held in the Louisiana Superdome, but neither foe would be primed to accomplish something no one else had all season, slow down the Pirates. Seton Hall beat Virginia, 84-67, in the opening round and easily rolled past DePaul, 83-60, in the Sugar Bowl Classic Final.
The tilt against DePaul was a rout from the opening tip. Andrew Gaze was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player after scoring 16 points in the win over the Blue Demons, 14 of which came during the first half, a period that ended with SHU holding a more than comfortable 54-25 lead.
After taking care of business on the road, Seton Hall returned home for arguably one of the biggest games in program history. The unbeaten Hoyas were the preseason pick to win the BIG EAST, and for good reason. Led by Olympic bronze medalist Charles Smith, Georgetown also featured freshman phenom Alonzo Mourning and sophomore Dikembe Mutombo.
Georgetown boasted a 9-0 record, coming off a win at the South Florida Classic over the holidays. The announced attendance for the game was 19,761, the most ever for a college game at Meadowlands Arena. Fans got a real treat as their team put together a close victory over a previously unbeaten foe. Seton Hall would be 2-0 in BIG EAST play, its best conference start in school history.
The Pirates won the game 94-86 in their closest contest since facing Kentucky in Anchorage. Heading into the highly anticipated event many pundits noted that Seton Hall was winning, but they hadn't played many tight contests. Fans were anxious to see how the Pirates would respond against a great opponent like the Hoyas if the game were to be close down the stretch.
At one point in the second half the Pirates were down nine but stormed back to defeat their conference rival. Like most of the season the Pirates had multiple players contribute and the Hoyas couldn't contain them all. Seniors Gerald Greene and Daryll Walked led the way scoring 20 points each. Greene would also add five assists and two steals while Walker pulled down a career-high 17 rebounds.
With their team trailing by nine in the second half, Australian import Andrew Gaze and reserve Michael Cooper put their stamp on the matchup. Gaze, who had been limited to just three points in the first half, scored 11 in the next seven minutes and Cooper scored six in the same span.
Mourning put together a solid game for the Hoyas, scoring 18 points, with eight rebounds while sending back eight shots. Jaren Jackson added on 27, hitting three of nine from deep.
When it appeared that the Hoyas could score at will early in the second half Coach PJ Carlesimo made a vital defensive switch. Seeing his Pirates get dominated in the paint convinced him to switch to a zone defense. His team responded and took the momentum for the rest of the contest. It was the first time they used zone defense all season.
After the game Gerald Greene boldly proclaimed, "We don't back down - Not anymore." The Pirates certainly proved Greene correct that night.
On Tuesday, our Hall of Fame series gears up for the NCAA Tournament. After a few road bumps early in BIG EAST play, Seton Hall eventually solidified a top-10 national ranking for its postseason run, establishing itself as a beast of the BIG EAST once the calendar turned to March.
A limited number of seats remain available for the 2014 Seton Hall Athletics Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony to be held on Wednesday, June 18 inside Historic Walsh Gymnasium. For more information on attending and sponsorship opportunities, please click here.