UMKC (0-0) at Seton Hall (0-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, Nov. 9, 7:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Walsh Gym (2,600) -- South Orange, New Jersey. Television: Pirate Sports Network. Home Record: UMKC 0-0, Seton Hall 0-0. Away Record: UMKC 0-0, Seton Hall 0-0. Neutral Record: UMKC 0-0, Seton Hall 0-0. Conference Record: UMKC 0-0, Seton Hall 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAMES NOTES: In the season-opener for both squads, the Seton Hall Pirates will entertain the UMKC Kangaroos at Walsh Gym as part of the Hall of Fame Tip-off Tournament.
UMKC is certainly not the Summit League's best after the Kangaroos finished last season with a conference-worst 10-21 record overall, including a 4-14 league mark. UMKC closed out its fifth losing season in the last six years on the backs of a five-game losing streak. Hitting the road was especially painful for the Kangaroos with the team managing only two wins in 13 tries away from Kansas City. The Kangaroos are coming into this season with four returning starters although the one that is missing is an important one with leading scorer Reggie Chamberlain gone. Like his predecessors head coach Matt Brown has not had much success with UMKC but his now sixth season matches the longest tenure for a coach at UMKC.
For much of last season it looked like Seton Hall might break its six-year absence from the NCAA Tournament but it was not to be as despite a 20-12 regular season tally, the Pirates were only able to muster and invite to the NIT. There the Pirates split there two games edging Stony Brook (63-61) before falling to eventual runner-up Massachusetts (77-67). Seton Hall is playing at Walsh Gym in this contest instead of its regular home venue of the Prudential Center. It's the first time since 2000 Walsh Gym has been used for Men's basketball.
As with many of the matchups in these types of tournaments, these teams have never faced off on the hardwood. UMKC has played only three games against current Big East competition and has accumulated a 1-2 mark, with the lone win against Cincinnati. Seton Hall is 0-1 in its only experience against the Summit League, losing to IUPUI, 67-65 in 2008.
Chamberlain (17.5 ppg) was a vital part of what was one of the worst offenses in the Summit League last season so his departure will be tough to get past. The Kangaroos scored only 64.5 points per game last season. An area that needs improvement is on the boards, where UMKC was better than just four other teams at the Division I level (28.2 pg). The good news for the Kangaroos is that four starters return. Trinity Hill (10.0 ppg, 4.3 rpg) was the only other player on the roster to average in double figures last season and will be looked to as the go-to scorer this year. The other returning starters are Kirk Korver (7.6 ppg), Thomas Staton (7.8 ppg) and Estan Taylor (5.3 ppg, 3.0 apg). Trinity and Korver are a bit undersized, both at 6-7, but will handle the responsibilities on the front line. Nate Rogers (6.0 ppg) and junior forward Caleb Johnson (6-9) are penciled in at the other starting positions with Staton expected to provide offense and energy off the bench.
Most teams have to replace key contributors from time to time, but Seton Hall has the miserable task of trying to fill the holes left by two of the best players in the Big East with the departure of point guard Jordan Theodore (16.1 ppg, 6.6 apg) and double-double machine Herb Pope (15.1 ppg, 10.4 rpg). It's unclear as to whose absence will have the bigger impact as there is little experience at the point guard position, but possibly less production on the boards on the current roster. Fuquan Edwin (12.5 ppg, 6.2 rpg) is a very good player on the wings and will assume the lead-scoring role. The projected starting lineup has freshman Tom Maayan taking over the point but if he falters sophomore Freddie Wilson (1.8 ppg) has some experience. Kyle Smyth transferred from Iona and will immediately get a chance to contribute from a starting position. Smyth is a dangerous threat from beyond the arc and might platoon with Aaron Cosby (7.9 ppg) to form a combination of size and shooting at the two-guard position. The contenders to replace Pope are Southern Illinois transfer Gene Teague (8.6 ppg, 5.3 rpg), Patrik Auda (6.8 ppg, 4.0 rpg) and Brandon Mobley (5.6 ppg, 4.4 rpg).
After coming so close to the Big Dance last season Seton Hall will be eager to prove that it can still contend without Theodore and Pope. A matchup against UMKC won't prove much in that regard, but should get the Pirates off on the right foot.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Seton Hall 71, UMKC 60
11/09 10:35:10 ET