2017-2018 Women's Basketball PreviewDate: November 9, 2017
(Photo: SHU Athletics)
The women's basketball team kicks off their regular season at 1 p.m. on Friday against Saint Peter's inside Walsh Gymnasium. We asked those at WSOU Sports to give their predictions for the upcoming season.
Matt Ambrose- WSOU Assistant Sports Director
This is going to be a transitional year for Tony Bozzella's crew. They will have a completely new frontcourt with Lubirdia Gordon and Claire Lundberg both gone, and also have seven new faces on the roster. Donnaizha Fountain is one of those newcomers as a graduate transfer from Temple, and she will be asked to lead this team on both ends of the floor. Jayla Jones-Pack will be tasked with filling in for Gordon at the center position, and Coach Bozzella has high hopes for the sophomore who averaged just 3.4 PPG last season off the bench. I see the team taking down St. Peter's to start the year, but picking up losses at Wake Forest, and home against Princeton and Rider. Their next two losses will come on the road against Rutgers, as well as a mid-December home game against #8 UCLA.
Jose Feliciano- WSOU Assistant Sports Director
The Seton Hall Women's Basketball team is coming off a down year that saw them finish tied for seventh in the Big East Conference. The Pirates have good competition in their non-conference schedule, the toughest being their matchup against UCLA at home, a four seed in last year's NCAA tournament. The Pirates under, Coach Bozzella's guidance, have been a dominant team when hosting games at the Walsh in the non-conference season, going 30-1 overall in the past five years. The fact that they will play eight of their 11 non-conference games at home only plays to their advantage. The addition of Donnaizha Fountain, as well as the growth of sophomore guard Kaela Hilaire, will be key for the Pirates throughout the season. I see the Pirates, due to their tough schedule, coming out with a 7-4 non-conference record.
Erin Kelly- WSOU Social Media Director
After a down year for the women's basketball team, the Pirates are looking to bounce back this year. The Pirates are set to have another successful non-conference. Kaela Hilaire and JaQuan Jackson are returning from the 2016-2017 season. The biggest question will be if Jayla Jones-Pack will be able to fill the shoes of Lubirdia Gordon. The best addition of graduate transfer Donnaizha Fountain, who averaged 14.1 points in her junior season last year at Temple, will bring an experienced guard to the combination of Hilaire and Jackson. Breaking down the non-conference, the biggest challenges for the Pirates come from instate rivals Rutgers on the road and Princeton in Walsh. The Pirates' toughest game, however, comes against UCLA in South Orange.
James Justice- WSOU Sports Contributor
After three straight seasons of rip-roaring success that had Walsh Gymnasium shaking from its foundation, Tony Bozzella's fourth season at the helm of the Seton Hall women's basketball program had an unfamiliar feeling as the head coach had to rebuild a program that had lost so many transcendent players. The positive from last season is an established backbone of youthful talent in Kaela Hilaire, Shadeen Samuels, Jayla Jones-Pack and company, to go along with a trio of transfers in Donnaizha Fountain, Nicole Jimenez and Inja Butina, and of course, the Big East's third leading scorer, JaQuan Jackson. I think the Pirates have what it takes to be in the conversation for postseason basketball once March comes around, but whether they will be in or out could largely come down to how they establish themselves in the non-conference portion of the season. The average RPI of the Pirates' opponents in this non-conference season is 181, using the most recent RPI. There are tough games with Princeton again, Wake Forest, and Rider, to go along with a marquee match in Walsh Gymnasium against UCLA. I think success for the Pirates would be to get to Big East play at 8-3.
Keith Egan- WSOU Sports Contributor
I see the Seton Hall women's team having a bit of a learning curve in their out of conference schedule, with their harder games coming in conference play. Starting the year, Seton Hall should take care of business with Saint Peter's at home. However, Wake Forest will be a tall task that I see them falling short on in their first road trip. Princeton will be a tough as well and will get the close win over Seton Hall in South Orange. The Pirates will begin to find success from there playing more opponents that they will be favored against, including two games in the Seton Hall Thanksgiving Invitational, and continuing that all the way to Boston College where they take care of business in their first major road win. The Pirates will finish up out of conference with a loss to a tough UCLA team at home, then a win against Fairfield.
Dagen Hughes- WSOU Sports Contributor
The Pirates return their top two scorers in JaQuan Jackson and Kaela Hilaire, but this team is full of new faces. Most notable is graduate transfer Donnaizha Fountain who will be a real difference-maker for this team. The Pirates also added transfers Inja Butina and Nicole Jimenez who will play a solid amount of time for the Pirates. The non-conference schedule is nothing short of tough for this team. The Pirates will have non-conference matchups against Wake Forest (Nov. 12), Rutgers (Dec. 8), Boston College (Dec. 10), and UCLA (Dec. 17). This non-conference slate will prepare the Pirates to play through a tough BIG EAST slate. The Pirates have the capability to go 7-4 in the non-conference especially if the team can find their stride in the first couple of games.
Alex Melillo- WSOU Sports Contributor
This team has a lot of very interesting pieces to it. Two main pieces from last season, Kaela Hilaire and JaQuan Jackson return to the Pirates this season. The Pirates can expect some growth from other players like Shadeen Samuels, Deja Winters and Jayla Jones-Pack to name a few. Newcomers like Donnaizha Fountain, Selena Philoxy and Taylor Brown (first year eligible for the Pirates due to NCAA Transfer Rules) have already impressed Coach Bozzella in the preseason and scrimmages. I see this Pirates team going 8-3 in this non-conference season. I think they fall short against Princeton, Rutgers and UCLA. Rutgers is going to be an interesting matchup for The Hall. It's a game at the RAC against a historically competitive and Hall-of-Fame-coached side.
Andrea Keppler- WSOU Sports Contributor
The Seton Hall women's basketball team looks to rebound after a tough 2016-17 campaign. Filling the shoes of Lubirdia Gordon will be sophomore Jayla Jones-Pack, who totaled 40 blocks last season, and will fit nicely into this role with one year of experience playing under head coach Tony Bozzella. Wing Donnaizha Fountain joins the Pirates after playing two years at Temple and will bring consistency to the offense. With matchups against Saint Peter's and Marist in the non-conference slate, The Hall will be able to gain confidence in the early goings. Bozzella will also use this time to make adjustments in the lineup, but the true testament of this squad will be tests against UCLA and Princeton, as these games will ultimately prepare the Pirates for the Big East against AP-ranked teams like Marquette and DePaul.