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December, 2014

A VOLLEYBALL FIRST

It's important to take a moment to congratulate our volleyball team for their tremendous success this season. This time of the year, much of our focus is on the beginning of our basketball seasons, however today our volleyball team will take part in its first-ever NCAA Tournament match.

Led by head coach Allison Yaeger and assistant coach Allie Matters, the BIG EAST Coaching Staff of the Year, the Pirates have a 28-7 overall mark and won a program-record 15 BIG EAST matches this season. Most recently, they played in their first BIG EAST Tournament since 2011, defeated defending champion Marquette in the event's semifinals before bowing to Creighton in the conference finals.

Seton Hall placed three players, seniors Shelbey and Stacey Manthorpe, and sophomore Tessa Fournier on the All-BIG EAST First Team, while junior Amanda Hansen was named to the Second Team. Fournier was named BIG EAST Libero of the Year, marking the third straight season a Seton Hall student-athlete has been awarded the sports' version of Defensive Player of the Year.

The Pirates' 28 wins represents a 12-win improvement from last season, which is tied for fourth-best in the country.

CLICK HERE to see a video following the announcement of the Pirates' selection to the NCAA Tournament.

On Thursday, Seton Hall will face Brigham Young in Tucson, Ariz. In its first NCAA Tournament game ever. The match is at 6:00 p.m. ET and can be seen via live video stream at www.PAC-12.com. Please join me in congratulating this very impressive squad.

PIRATES IN PARADISE

Our Seton Hall men's basketball program is off to a very hot start. After a season-opening victory over Mercer at the Prudential Center, the Pirates headed to the U.S. Virgin Islands to compete in the Paradise Jam for the second time in five years.

Buoyed by the strong play of junior Sterling Gibbs, The Hall earned hard-fought victories over Nevada and Gardner-Webb before outlasting Illinois State for the Paradise Jam title. The championship is the first at a traditional in-season, eight-team tournament since winning the Great Alaskan Shootout during the famed season of 1988-89.

Gibbs was named Paradise Jam Most Valuable Player after scoring a career-high 40 points in the championship game. The point guard was a remarkable 10-for-14 from the floor, including 7-for-9 from three-point range and a perfect 13-for-13 from the free-throw line. His 40-point outburst is the most points scored by a Seton Hall player since Jeremy Hazell erupted for 41 vs. West Virginia in 2009.

Since winning in the islands, Seton Hall has returned to the Prudential Center and scored victories over George Washington and Mount St. Mary's to improve its record to a perfect 6-0.

The Hall will take its perfect record into the Garden State Hardwood Classic on Saturday, when it hosts in-state rival Rutgers. Game time is scheduled for noon. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling 973-275-HALL or by CLICKING HERE.

THANKSGIVING SUCCESS

Not to be outdone by our men's team, our women's basketball team is off to another outstanding start, and over Thanksgiving weekend, the team won its home tournament with a 77-60 victory over Saint Joseph's, to improve to 5-1 for the second year in a row under head coach Tony Bozzella. I knew when I hired Tony his passion and drive would translate to success on the court, and his enthusiasm for Seton Hall has energized our students, alumni and fans to support this program.

Most recently, the team played its first conference game of the year at Creighton on Fox Sports 1, the first of four nationally televised games our women's basketball team, three of which will air on Fox Sports 1. Seton Hall held on to win, 79-74, to open the conference portion of the schedule with a victory. The fact the team is receiving this level of national recognition is a testament to the job Coach Bozzella has done and the commitment of our student-athletes. The season is just three weeks old and already Seton Hall has seen Ka-Deidre Simmons and Daisha Simmons earn BIG EAST Player of the Week honors and the Pirates are receiving top-25 votes in the USA Today/Coaches poll for the first time in nearly 20 years.

I hope to see all of you come out to Walsh to support the women's basketball program and the outstanding job they are doing on and off the court to represent Seton Hall University.

GARDEN STATE HARDWOOD CLASSIC

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to travel to the Skylark Diner in Edison, N.J. to join our men's basketball head coach Kevin Willard as well as Rutgers Athletic Director Julie Hermann and head coach Eddie Jordan in presenting a truly unique trophy that will be a staple of the Garden State Hardwood Classic for years to come.

The rivalry between Seton Hall and Rutgers is well-known, longstanding and woven into the fabric of both programs and universities. As members of elite conferences in the BIG EAST and the Big Ten, both sides felt it was vital to provide a stage worthy of a series that owns such a rich tradition.

The fact that both sides came together in this united effort to create such a platform is a credit to those involved and serves as a testament to how meaningful this game truly is.

The trophy itself was carved from recovered Asbury Park boardwalk planks that were displaced during Superstorm Sandy and has been molded into a mirror image of the state of New Jersey with each school's athletics logo emblazoned on the front. The Garden State Hardwood Classic logo, conceived and created by one of our current women's soccer senior student-athletes Peggy Nicolle, is also present on the basketball-themed base.

Sure to become one of the most coveted rivalry trophies in college sports, the trophy will be presented annually to the winning team.

CLICK HERE to see a video of the Garden State Hardwood Classic press conference.

I know you share in my excitement for the first-ever installment of the Garden State Hardwood Classic and I look forward to seeing you all at the Prudential Center on Saturday.

CONSTRUCTION PHASE NEARS COMPLETION

As the new year rapidly approaches, so too does a new chapter in the proud history of Seton Hall Athletics.

Last month, I spoke of the progress made in our ongoing locker room project which will provide each of our varsity teams with their own dedicated space for the first-time ever. With another few weeks in the books, we now stand on the cusp of opening the state-of-the-art spaces.

The next phase will focus heavily on artwork and branding that will honor Pirates both past and present while ensuring that that whenever you step into our facilities; you know you are at The Hall. Currently, the locker rooms and a new varsity weight room that will more than double the size of its predecessor are on track to reach completion in early 2015.

The foundation also continues to be laid for our carefully conceived team meeting room that will feature the latest in digital and audio technology and will be able to accommodate up to 40 people with amphitheater style seating.

Projects such as these and the recently opened Center for Sports Medicine and Charles W. Doehler Academic Center for Excellence closely align with, and make clear, our devotion to competing on the conference and national levels while also providing an elite student-athlete experience.

Such endeavors would not be possible without the contributions of our loyal Pirate Blue supporters. Naming opportunities are available within the campaign including the opportunity to name a locker within in our new locker facility. To make a donation or for more information, contact the Pirate Blue office at (973) 275-6447 or pirateblue@shu.edu.