Oh, what could have been for Seton Hall.
It’s always been a struggle for the Pirates in the Big East. Outside of a strong run in the late 1980s and early 90s, which included an NCAA National Championship game appearance in 1989 and conference tournament championships in 1991 and 1993, Seton Hall has always been one of the little brothers in the Big East.
With 6-5 Jeremy Hazell, double-double machine Herb Pope and bruising forward Jeff Robinson back, there were high hopes for the Pirates this year. Their dreams for a great season were dashed quickly when Hazell went down with a broken bone in his left wrist after the third game of the season.
Making matters worse, the senior from Harlem was shot while he was out with the wrist injury and ended up missing a total of 13 games. Seton Hall went 5-8 in those games and lost three of its first four games when Hazell returned.
Hazell, who one NBA western conference scout said could be the “steal of the draft”, carried the Hall with 27 points. But it wasn’t enough as Seton Hall (13-18) fell, 76-70, in overtime to Rutgers.
It was a type of game that the winning team will always remember in a positive way. As for the loser, it’s a contest that will always live in infamy. Hazell drained a big three-pointer with one second left in regulation to force overtime.
“It’s a great game, but the outcome, for us, wasn’t what we wanted,” Hazell said. “We worked too hard for this. And we wanted the W.”
First-year Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard felt the pain.
"Our seniors gave us alot -Jeremy, Jeff and Eniel [Polynice] - and all the guys that played for this university gave us a lot," said Willard. "So it's disappointing, but these guys are going to go on to bright futures."