It has been a demoralizing two weeks for Seton Hall, a stretch that made whatever was happening across the New York Bight at St. John’s look relatively pastoral.
To recap: the Pirates have lost six of their last eight games, including a 19-point loss at home to Georgetown on Tuesday night, a contest which also nearly featured a fight between star guard Sterling Gibbs and star freshman Isaiah Whitehead. Coach Kevin Willard refused to discuss chemistry issues during the post-game press conference, when issues that were apparent to even the most casual college basketball fan, and this morning Jerry Carino of NJ Hoops Haven reported Jaren Sina, the Hall’s sophomore guard, has left the team.
Sina was a recruiting coup for Willard and his staff. The guard had first committed to Alabama, backtracked and chose Northwestern, and then finally settled on the Hall — fortuitously after Willard hired Fred Hill, who had recruited Sina (which included sending the guard handwritten notes) away from the Big Ten school. Sina was removed from the starting lineup against the Hoyas, and it appears that shuffling was the tipping point for a change. “I’ve always been positive. I’ve always worked hard. I always gave it 100 percent. It’s not a good situation for me right now,” Sina told Carino.
Seton Hall’s locker room has seemingly devolved into a toxic situation, one that needs to be remedied immediately if the Hall want to continue playing into deep March. There are many issues at play, but losing Sina ultimately hurts what Willard wants to accomplish in his fifth season, which is to finally make the NCAA tournament. Sina is a hardworking guard with high basketball IQ who is also a reliably perimeter threat (even if he was struggling from deep in 2015, he had made strides since late January hitting 38% over the past five games).
While reporting my piece about Gibbs, the guard told me that both he and his backcourt ‘mate were especially close. “When Jaren is calling plays, he knows what works and what doesn’t. If I am able to get a good look of it, I’ll tell Jaren to run it again, because he is able to examine the defense to know what will work best,” Gibbs said.
Sina was a player who epitomized how Willard won at Iona, signed on early to be part of Willard’s vision at the Hall, and his loss is damaging.
Matt Giles writes about the Big East and other conferences for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow him on Twitter at @HudsonGiles.