Key Losses: G/F John Allen (11.5 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 2.6 apg), G Justin Cerasoli (6.2 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 2.5 apg), G/F J.R. Morris (10.1 ppg, 5.8 rpg), F Andre Sweet (8.9 ppg, 5.7 rpg)
Chicago, IL/Transfer from Minnesota
Pittsgrove, NJ/Arthur P. Schalick
Antioch, TN/Oak Hill (VA) Academy
Cincinnati, OH/Transfer from Cincinnati
Pilgrim and Gaines are expected to contribute immediately after transferring in from Cincinnati and Minnesota, respectively. Gaines' defensive prowess will be a boost to the Pirates' frontcourt. Gause, a late signee, is a high-scoring combo guard who will see plenty of time at the point. Garcia and Palmer are both bruising forwards who will add to the physical style the Pirates will play.
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There's not just strength in numbers at Seton Hall this season. There's also numbers with strength.
Ever since he became the Pirates' coach five years ago, Louis Orr has wanted to field a bruising, physical team that could hold its own in the brawny Big East. Finally, he has one.
Two unexpected defections -- promising point guard Justin Cerasoli transferred and J.R. Morris left school early to play professionally -- and the arrival of newcomers have completely re-shaped Seton Hall's appearance and outlook.
Cerasoli's departure has created some uneasiness at point guard, but with seven players checking in at 6-foot-7 and 235 pounds or better, the Pirates can finally measure up with their Big East rivals.
"You need to be physical in this league, and we have the size now that will allow us to be that way," Orr says. "It will have an impact on the way we play at both ends of the floor."
Among the players in the Pirates' frontcourt mix, the least accomplished of the group is the one Orr seems the most excited about. Marcus Cousin, a 6-10, 240-pound forward/center, played sparingly in 18 games last season, averaging 0.4 points and 1.1 rebounds.
"Watch out for Marcus. I'm expecting a lot out of him," Orr says. "He has a chance to be a great rebounder and can give us a good low-post presence. He just needed time to adjust and mature and work on things as a freshman last year."
But finding time in this frontcourt won't be easy. Forward Kelly Whitney embarks on his fourth year as a starter and is looking to rebound from a sub-par season that saw him shoot a career-low 43.1 percent, though he did lead the Pirates in scoring and rebounding.
Part-time starter Grant Billmeier is back as well, along with forward Mani Messy, a promising athlete who has yet to reach his potential.
Orr finally has some flexibility up front thanks to four newcomers. Stan Gaines, a transfer from Minnesota, will earn immediate time due to his defense and ability to rebound. Gaines started 17 games as a sophomore for the Gophers two years ago, averaging 5.5 points and 3.2 rebounds.
Cincinnati transfer Mike Pilgrim, Orr's second cousin, will be eligible to offer additional help starting in the second semester.
The freshman class offers promise and help in the form of John Garcia (6-9, 235-pounds) and David Palmer (6-9, 240). Both are capable of playing under the basket or on the wing. Palmer spent last year at perennial powerhouse Oak Hill Academy in Virginia.
Cerasoli's departure leaves Seton Hall with only one true point guard on its roster, slender senior Donald Copeland, a reserve for all but 19 games in his career. Copeland, who scored only 91 points in his first two seasons combined, averaged 6.9 points per game last year.
But Orr will likely fall back on a point-guard-by-committee approach, with combo guard Jamar Nutter helping out, along with freshman Paul Gause. Though 5-11 and built like a point guard, Gause scored 3,144 points in high school and averaged 33.9 points as a senior.
"You can play him off the ball because he can make shots, but he can also play point guard," Orr says of Gause. "He's just a guard."
Nutter, meanwhile, is a guard without a position. He's 6-2 and athletic, but is neither a point guard nor a shooting guard. That means he will see time at both spots.
With four-year starter John Allen (a 1,400-point career scorer) and Morris gone, Brian Laing should benefit the most by taking the majority of the minutes at the off guard/wing spot. Laing averaged just 2.8 points last year.
"We're a work in progress," Orr says. "But that doesn't mean I'm putting a limit on how good we can be. We have size, athletic ability and depth, and we haven't had that for a while."
But too many new faces, too much uncertainty at point guard and too much reliance on unproven players likely mean the Pirates are headed for a .500 season. A tougher conference schedule doesn't bode well for a team that finished 4-12 in league play last season.